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Top class music from both sides of the pond

A SPECIAL double bill concert featuring top-class roots musicians from both sides of the Atlantic will take place at Mareel this summer.

It is a decade since Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble, Lau singer and award-winning folk artist Kris Drever and leading Scottish fiddler John McCusker collaborated to record the acclaimed ‘Before the Ruin’ album under the name Drever McCusker Woomble.

The trio – backed by percussionist and Admiral Fallow frontman Louis Abbott – are on the road again this year for some tenth anniversary concerts, including a sell-out show at Glasgow Fruitmarket during Celtic Connections in January and forthcoming performances this summer including Cambridge Folk Festival.

Their concert at Mareel on Tuesday 31 July will be a double header where they will be joined by enduring Shetland Folk Festival favourites Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards.

The string quartet’s harmonies won over audiences at the 2015 festival and at a sold-out show at Mareel last year, and this will be their first visit since the release of their LP California Calling last autumn.

Cortese had watched on with envy at this past weekend’s festival shenanigans: “Is it possible to have post-festival FOMO [fear of missing out] blues?” she said.

“I think that’s what I have this week after cyber stalking Shetland Folk Festival all weekend. My only consolation is that we are coming back to Mareel in July. And along with the Drever McCusker Woomble reunion, no less.

“I’ve been doing my proper fan girl homework with ‘Before the Ruin’ on repeat since we confirmed the show.

“This will be our first show in Shetland since our album ‘California Calling’ came out this fall on Compass Records. We’ll be bringing vinyl copies (and of course CDs) and playing all the new songs.

“I’m extra excited to introduce the magic of Shetland to two new Dance Cards (Sumaia Jackson on fiddle and banjo and Hasee Ciaccio on bass). I’ll be crowdsourcing ideas for must-sees and must-dos for Shetland newbies.”

Shetland-based Drever has some shared musical history with Cortese, having sung harmonies on her 2013 record ‘Into the Dark’, so there might even be scope for a collaboration during a show that will see both artists perform full-length sets.

‘Before the Ruin’ received extensive airplay on BBC radio upon its release. The poetic, melodic and atmospheric record, featuring contributions from Radiohead’s Philip Selway, Norman Blake and Francis MacDonald from Teenage Fanclub and Donald Shaw from Capercaillie.

A BBC review at the time said the album took “traditional folk as a starting point” and added in “splashes of CSNY, pastoral Zeppelin and Radiohead, to make something that, in this world of transient pop daisies, is resolutely made of long lasting oak”.

In addition to performing the 10-track album, Drever McCusker Woomble will also dip into their respective back catalogues.

“We’re very excited to be doing these shows and kicking off in Shetland is always special,” Drever said. “Throw Laura Cortese into the mix and it’s got to be good, doesn’t it?”