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Arts / Couper brothers and Americana trio to provide winter musical cheer

Rachel Baiman is set to bring her trio to Mareel on Wednesday 19 January.

LOCAL roots music promoters Ragged Wood have confirmed two gigs either side of the new year – including a first Americana concert in more than two years.

Chicago-born singer and musician Rachel Baiman will be bringing her trio to Mareel on Wednesday 19 January, kicking off a two-week UK tour that also includes an appearance at Celtic Connections.

Before that, one of Shetland’s leading fiddlers, Ross Couper, will be joined by his guitarist brother Ross for a festive gig at The Dowry’s new upstairs venue on Tuesday 28 December. Support comes from Sheila Duncan and tickets are available from The Little Box Office.

Kelly Riddell of Ragged Wood said a post-Christmas gig with the Coupers was becoming “something of a festive tradition”, with the brothers always guaranteed to deliver “top class fiddle music laced with good humour and entertainment”.

Baiman, meanwhile, will be following in the footsteps of many of her peers in the thriving Nashville-anchored Americana scene when she visits Shetland for the first time.

She will be accompanied by guitarist/singer Anthony Da Costa (who previously played at Mareel with Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz) and bassist/singer Zoe Guigeno (who often tours with Shetland Folk Festival favourites Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards).

Also returning to the stage after a pandemic-enforced lay-off will be Shetland’s own Americana specialists Kansa.

The show was originally due to take place in June 2020 and Baiman says the succession of delays means she’s even more excited to finally see the islands.

Ross and Ryan Couper will play at The Dowry’s upstairs venue on 28 December.

“I’ve heard so much about the magical place that is Shetland,” she said, “and after being teased with the opportunity to travel there in 2020 and 2021, I can only believe that it’s going to be even more magical in 2022!”

Neil Riddell of Ragged Wood said: “Anyone who previously enjoyed shows by the likes of Sarah Jarosz, The Stray Birds and Front Country is sure to find much to love in Rachel’s harmonic blend of American roots music.”

Baiman moved to Nashville at 18 and has worked with a wide range of artists as a session musician, live sidewoman, bandmate and producer.

Fiddle music was her first love and she is known in the bluegrass and old-time world for her work with progressive acoustic duo 10 String Symphony alongside Christian Sedelmyer. Her first solo album, Shame, was produced by Andrew Marlin of Mandolin Orange and established her as part of a new generation of political songwriters.  

Since 2017 she has toured her solo project internationally, appearing at the Kilkenny Roots Festival in Ireland, the Mullum Music Festival in Australia and the Kennedy Centre Millennium Stage in Washington DC.

Her new album Cycles contains unabashed and defiant songwriting, described as “at times heartbreaking, at times celebratory”, exploring the immense and unique strength of women in times of adversity.

Riddell said it continued to be a deeply uncertain time for the music industry. But despite the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and some complicating local factors, with a successful weekend of gigs with Rose Room under their belt last month, Ragged Wood are hopeful 2022 will see the local live scene continue to regain momentum.

In addition to a solo show with Starsailor frontman James Walsh in late February and two duo shows at The Dowry with Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble in May, plans are afoot for some more small-scale shows throughout the year.

“We’re still working to reschedule the remaining concerts that had been due to go ahead in 2020, and we’re also speaking to a range of local and visiting artists about possible shows,” Riddell added.