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Features / Shetland Folk Festival 2019

Coverage brought to you by Shetland News, from start to finish!

Welcome to our Shetland Folk Festival page.

We will attempt to cover as much as possible of the four day musical extravaganza, both here on our website but also on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/shetlandnews/ and on our Twitter feed @Shetnews.

Please feel free to share any photos/videos or interesting tales by sending these to news@shetnews.co.uk.

5 May 2019 23:20

French quartet Les Fils Canouche had been playing at The String earlier in the day but sounded plenty fresh when they took the stage at Mareel. Their jazzy world music gave the crowd something else again to listen to with their style and sophistication in stark contrast to some of the more “traditional” folk acts.

5 May 2019 23:10

Manchester based quintet Kabantu brought an entirely different sound to the festival with their African inflected music and beautiful harmonies.

5 May 2019 23:00

Scottish “supergroup” Blazin’ Fiddles were first on stage at tonight’s Mareel foy gig, where every visiting artist plays a 15 minute stint in the marathon concert. Blazin’ Fiddles made an immediate impact with their brand of precision traditional playing.

5 May 2019 17:05

Who knew there would be a mass singalong of baby shark at the Shetland Folk Festival?

No, it wasn’t during a squiffy late night session in the club – as far as we’re aware.

Bon Débarras’ Véronique Plasse at the Peerie Spang on Sunday. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

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It was one of the many child-friendly tunes at the Peerie Spang event at Mareel on Sunday afternoon as Shetland’s younger generation got their chance to boogie at the festival.

The sold-out gig, which saw hundreds of tickets snapped up, opened with Montreal act Bon Débarras, who guided the children – and some enthusiastic mums and dads – through upbeat tunes.

Next were the worldly Kabantu, who, with an appearance on children’s TV station CBeebies in their CV, stole the show with a sprightly set of jaunty songs.

And yes, that included Baby Shark (see the video below)with some add ons included as well to give it their own flavour.

With a mosh pit of delirious children, and the sun streaming through from the cafe bar, there were definite feelgood vibes flowing through Mareel.

There was even time for the customary raffle, with the prizes not bottles of wine and whisky but a ukulele and lessons, unicorn-themed jewellery and bubble toys.

It was up to virtuoso piper Anxo Lorenzo to finish off the two-hour gig, and while his trio did not deliver the same level of interactiveness for children, their stomping trad tracks gave the crowd a fine send off.

The children went home happy, while some of the parents were no doubt only just warming up for the foy gigs this evening across Lerwick.

5 May 2019 16:50

Baby Shark has made it to the Shetland Folk Festival – here is Kabantu playing the children’s favourite at the Peerie Spang event for kids and parents at Mareel this afternoon.

5 May 2019 10:25

And how about a video of last night’s headliners Elephant Sessions? The group topped off the bill at the Brae Hall, with the uptempo Highlands act returning to the folk festival after proving popular at the event three years ago.

5 May 2019 10:20

A video of Rack N’ Ruin at the Brae Hall last night…

5 May 2019 10:00

The folk festival’s first standing concert outside of Lerwick took place at the Brae Hall on Saturday night, with the North Mainland getting a slice of the spangin’ spree action.

Elephant Sessions’ Euan Smillie rallying the troops at the Brae Hall. Photos: Chris Cope/Shetland News

It was kicked off by Yell outfit Rack n’ Ruin, who are celebrating their 25th year, with their party band revelry a fine fit for the folk festival fun.

Led by fiddler Barry Nisbet, who had already played at the festival as a solo singer-songwriter, the Cullivoe conglomerate’s upbeat tunes got the crowd well-oiled for the night ahead.

With a bunch of Yell natives in the audience sporting Rack N’ Ruin t-shirts, it was hard cheese to whoever had to follow, but piper Anxo Lorenzo and his two comrades brought a different aura to the bill.

Their set did lull halfway through, with audience chatter threatening to drown out the solo spots as attentions waned, but when the trio did go upbeat the crowd were on their side, snake-charming merry dancers to the front of the stage.

Elephant Sessions’ Alasdair Taylor.

Headliner Elephants Sessions did not need to worry about audience participation, with their brand of contemporary folk hitting the right note with the Brae crowd.

Allowing influence to seep in from rock and pop – even at one brief moment revealing themselves as likely closet heavy metal fans – the Scottish five-piece showed why their were invited back to the festival after proving a bonafide hit three years ago.

It was off to the festival club for some as the clock struck 11.30pm for more dancing and drinking – and then probably more dancing and drinking – with the night still young.


4 May 2019 13:33

A buffet of Shetland snacks, including local lamb and dried cod, went down a treat. Photo: Shetland News

A crowd of around 150 people enjoyed an evening of Stories Behind the Music served with an offering of Shetland food and aimed predominantly at the many tourists visiting the isles during the folk festival.

Hosted by the newly appointed manager of Shetland Food and Drink, Claire White, visitors were treated to diverse programme of local music ranging from the Shetland Fiddlers’ Society who got the evening at Islesburgh Community Centre under way to Cullivoe singer songwriter Barry Nisbet and a performance of the Papa Stour Sword Dancers.

Offering lots of stories behind the music, Claire White and Robbie Leask finished the evening off with a set based on their newly released CD Lasses Trust in Providence.


4 May 2019 13:30

The Papa Stour Sword Dance most likely originates in the north of England from where it has been brought to Shetland to entertain the lairds. It survived on the small island of Papa Stour and has its home now in Brae where the tradition is being passed on from one generation to the next.

This is a edited version of dance filmed at the ‘Stories behind the Music’ concert at the festival club on Friday night.

4 May 2019 13:17

Cullivoe singer songwriter Barry Nisbet teaching an entertaining lesson in Shetland dialect during Friday’s ‘Stories Behind the Music’ concert at the festival club in the Islesburgh Community Centre.

4 May 2019 13.40

A selection of photos from the festival’s most northerly concert, at Baltasound, courtesy of Chris Brown.

Elsbeth Clark.
Award winning Canadian singer Kaia Kater.
Canadian trio Bon Debarras.

4 May 2019 09:00

Here’s a video shared online of local band Vair in session with J.P. Cormier and Tim Edey backstage at Burravoe in Yell on Friday night.

Warm up session ahead of Burravoe Concert on Yell Shetland Folk Festival Baby Suilven being serenaded by Tim Edey, JP Cormier, Ryan Couper, Lewie Peterson, Jonny Polson and Erik Peterson. This is what this festival is all about!

Posted by Travelling Folk on BBC Radio Scotland on Friday, 3 May 2019

3 May 2019 16:56

The dynamic sound of Kinnaris Quintet. They feature at tonight’s Spangin Spree at the Clickimin and at the Carnegie Hall, in Sandwick, on Saturday.

3 May 2019 14:50

Singer songwriter May Erlewine is enjoying every minute of the Shetland Folk Festival…

3 May 2019 14:45

Did you attend the Shetland Folk Festival in 2013? Take a trip down ol’ memory lane and listen to the song Old Town by local indie-pop band Trookers, who penned the tune after attending the festival that year. It features our own Chris Cope on bass, and opens with the line ‘this old town has got the buzz again’ – something we’re certainly feeling in Lerwick this year.

3 May 2019 12:08

Many thanks to Geoff Leask for sharing this clip from Shetland Mandolin Band’s set at Mareel on Thursday night.

Shetland Folk Festival 2019 – THIS…. is what it’s all about…….

Posted by Geoff Leask on Thursday, 2 May 2019

3 May 2019 11:00

Kabantu percussionist Delia Stevens at Mareel on Thursday night. Photo: Shetland News

The Harbour Cafe in Lerwick will likely have been enjoying decent trade this AM as bleary-eyed folk festival revellers lined their stomachs in the traditional morning-after-the night-before pit-stop.

The festival launched on Thursday with well-attended concerts in Burra, Vidlin, Walls and Lerwick, including the first folk festival event to be held at The String in the centre of town.

Did you take any photos or videos from last night’s festivities? If so, feel free to share them with us at news@shetnews.co.uk.

Today’s schedule includes an afternoon show for members at the festival club in Islesburgh, with music fans due to attend concerts in the likes of Unst, Yell and Bigton.

2 May 2019 22:32

Les Fils Canouche bringing the house down in Hamnavoe Hall half way through Thursday night’s concert.

2 May 2019 15:41

Kabantu from Manchester playing music from around the globe. This one is from South Africa.

2 May 2019 14:02

French quartet Les Fils Canouche making their UK debut at this year’s folk festival…

2 May 2019 13:45

This year’s Shetland Folk Festival kicked off on Thursday afternoon with the opening ceremony at Islesburgh in Lerwick.

A host of visiting acts from across the world are set to perform throughout Shetland over the next four days.

All of the artists played short sets at the busy opening ceremony to give the audience a taste of what’s to come.

A lot of the concerts are already sold out as the programme proves popular with locals and visitors.

2 May 2019 13:12

Shetland Folk Festival is now under way and the opening concert already in full swing with Northern Irish band Connla.

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