Entertainment / Old and new faces on folk festival bill

Kabantu: "Vocal harmonies from South Africa combine with everything from Celtic reels to Brazilian samba and beyond".

MUSIC lovers look to be in for a treat this May when the Shetland Folk Festival returns.

The line-up of visiting artists has now been announced, with musicians heading to the isles from over ten different countries.

A number of acts will return to Shetland for the 39th folk festival, with multi-instrumentalists JP Cormier and Tim Edey lined up for both collaborative and solo sets.

Kaia Kater. Photo: Raez Argulla.

Indie-folkers The Elephant Sessions and “Newcastle’s finest swing-honkytonk-rockabilly band” Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra will also make return visits to the festival.

Highlands and Islands trad supergroup Blazin’ Fiddles will make their festival debut, as will Josie Duncan and Spaniard Pablo Lafuente, who won a Radio 2 young folk award in 2017.

Glasgow’s Kinnaris Quintet will bring shades of Celtic, Scandinavian, American and classical music, while the quintet’s Jenn Butterworth and Laura Beth Salter will also perform as a duo.


Montreal’s Kaia Kater is set to showcase her banjo skills and “jazz-fuelled voice”, while Canada’s Juno award-winning Pharis and Jason Romero will bring old-time tunes to the isles.

They will be joined on the bill by French-Canadian trio Bon Debarras.

US singer-songwriter May Erlewine will follow up appearances at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections by heading north in May, with the musician a bandmate of Shetland favourite Lindsay Lou in the Sweet Water Warblers.

Northern Irish outfit Connla.

Connla will head from Northern Ireland, mixing contemporary and trad flavours, while Anxo Lorenzo – known as one of Europe’s premier virtuoso pipers – will dip into a range of genres, from jazz and flamenco to hip-hop.

French quartet Les Fils Canouche will bring their Django Reinhardt-inspired gypsy-jazz to the bill, while bluegrass will come in the shape of UK trio Jaywalkers. World music fans, meanwhile, will be pleased to see the eclectic Kabantu on the line-up.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


The array of local acts set to play the Shetland Folk Festival will be announced in the coming weeks, as will the busy schedule of concerts.

Head of festival programming Mhairi McLeman said the committee always strives to bring a diverse range of acts to Shetland.

However, she admitted the organisers are keeping a close eye on Brexit and how it may affect the movement of musicians in the future.

“While we pride ourselves on breaking brand new bands to Shetland audiences, it’s also lovely to see returning faces and we also can’t wait to show off our local talent alongside these celebrated international acts,” McLeman said.

“Like many other organisations who are working with international artists, we will need to keep an eye on the current political situation and what implications will be for movement of musicians and the strength of the pound – all of this has a bearing on what we can bring to Shetland.


“However, we are grateful to all our volunteers, sponsors and committee members who continue to work together to make the event what it is.”

This year’s festival will take place between 2-5 May, with early membership gong on sale in the month of February.

Members will be able to buy concert tickets from 18 March before they go on general sale on 1 April.

Listen to all of this year’s visiting artists over on the Shetland Folk Festival website.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.