Arts / Old and new faces for 40th folk festival


A NUMBER of visiting acts have been announced for this year’s Shetland Folk Festival, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Caledonia star Dougie MacLean will return to the festival after previously performing at the event in 1986 and 2006.

Also on the bill are acts like Grammy-nominated Nashville act Della Mae, Finnish septet Frigg, J.P. Cormier and Julie Fowlis.


The 40th Shetland Folk Festival will be held from 30 April to 3 May, and the line-up of visiting acts is a mix of returning favourites and fresh faces.

MacLean is famed for penning the tune Caledonia, and he has performed at venues like the Carnegie Hall in New York, London’s Festival Theatre and the Sydney Opera House.

Dougie MacLean.

Della Mae, meanwhile, are making their debut at the festival, with the committee describing them as “some of the finest bluegrass musicians from USA and Canada”.

Ireland’s Heidi Talbot will also make her debut at the festival with a trio, as will JigJam, who blend traditional Irish music with bluegrass and Americana.


South African choir Imbube UK will also make their debut, while American contemporary folk duo Paper Wings will make a trip north for the first time too.

Bristol-based nine-piece Cut Capers will bring a “heady mix of brass-driven swing, funk and hip-hop”, while New England contra dance band Stringrays are also on the bill. They feature renowned fiddle player Rodney Miller.

Scottish supergroup The Poozies will also entertain audiences, while a number of Scandinavian acts will grace the festival – Frigg, Danish party band Habadekuk, and fiddle trio The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc.


Celtic group Le Vent de Nord from Quebec will return to the festival after previously playing in 2008, while Cape Breton multi-instrumentalist and Shetland favourite J.P. Cormier will prove a popular addition to the line-up.

Project Smok brings together three young Scottish players Ali Levack (pipes and whistles), Pablo Lafuente (guitar) and Ewan Baird (bodhrá).

There will also be a special Between Islands collaboration, which will draw talent the Scottish isles. Jenny Keldie from Shetland will appear alongside Western Isles vocalists Julie Fowlis and Kathleen MacInnes, as well as Orcadian duo Saltfishforty (Douglas Montgomery and Brian Cromarty).

Saltfishforty will also be joined on the trip up from Orkney by eight-pice The Chair.

Della Mae.

The festival’s publicity officer Louise Johnson said: “We strive to showcase a real variety of styles during the Shetland Folk Festival and we hope that this year’s visiting line-up of returning favourites, new favourites-to-be and up and coming talent will hit the mark for our festival goers.

“We are so proud that the festival has reached this 40th milestone and can’t wait to celebrate with locals and visitors, while showing off the amazing local talent that Shetland continues to deliver for us year on year.


“We will be sharing news about the local acts due to perform at the festival in the coming weeks. We are hugely grateful to the investment we have received from EventScotland and Creative Scotland, which helps us ensure the festival is accessible and appealing to locals and visitors alike.”

VisitScotland’s director of events Paul Bush said the folk festival is a “welcome addition to our 2020 portfolio”.

Creative Scotland music officer Siobhan Anderson added: “The 40th year of this major festival will see local artists as well as some of folk’s biggest national and international names take to the stage in Shetland.

“This year looks set to be one of the festivals best yet, and is sure to have something for everyone.”

Early memberships, meanwhile, go on sale at the festival’s website on 1 February until 29 February. Early members will be able to buy concert tickets from Monday 16 March, with a general sale from 23 March.

More information about the event and this year’s acts is available online.