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Paid for contentBack with a bang! Shetland Accordion & Fiddle Festival looks forward to festival number 33

... at the Islesburgh Festival Hub. All photos provided by Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival

After the 2020 and 2021 Festivals were cancelled due to Covid, Shetland Accordion & Fiddle committee have organised a cracker for their 33rd festival which kicks off on Thursday 6 October.

The official festival opening takes place in the Festival Hub at 1pm on Thursday, and this year the committee are delighted to have Ewan Galloway to perform the opening.   Ewan has been a great supporter of the festival over the years, and especially so recently. He and the late Derek Hamilton formed RadioGH, an online station which has a great following in Shetland.

They regularly feature Shetland and Shetland musicians, and during the lockdown helped keep our music alive, when live performances weren’t possible – there could be no better choice for this year’s opening ceremony.

While changes and improvements are introduced each year, the committee are keeping to the tried and tested formula of using Islesburgh Community Centre as the Festival Hub (no longer called the Festival Club!) and holding concerts and dances on the Thursday and Friday nights at various venues.

Odd Arne Halaas and his Trio are making a return visit to the festival.

As usual there will be a concert and dance at the Festival Hub in Islesburgh on these two nights, while at four different country halls each night there will be a concert, supper, and dance.   The festival prides itself in taking these concerts all over Shetland, and since the first Festival in 1988, no fewer than 45 different venues covering the length and breadth of Shetland have been used.

At these concerts there will be a number of both local and visiting artistes. The locals include such multi-instrumental groups as Fiddle and Accordion Clubs from Northmavine, Westside, and the Ness.  There are other long-standing groups like Shetland Fiddlers Society and The Heritage Fiddlers, and of course many of Shetland’s top dance bands.  Soloists include Bryan Gear and Maggie Adamson on fiddle, and Bruce Peebles and Brian Morrison on accordion.

Younger players feature too of course, and include Yelena Anderson, Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year, and the excellent swing band, High Level Hot Club.

From outwith Shetland the line-up is impressive. The furthest travelled will be Odd Arne Halaas and his Trio from Norway.  They are making a return visit, having proved very popular in the past.

The Shands will be a highlight of the festival.

Champion fiddler Shona MacFadyen has become a regular over the years, as has fiddler Roddy Matthews and accordionist David Vernon.  Although he is making his first visit to Shetland, accordionist Andy Philip has become well known as one of the presenters on RadioGH, and is seen regularly on YouTube presenting The Scottish Shindig

One of the highlights of the festival will no doubt be The Shands, the young family of top accordionist Gordon Shand.  They are aged 17, 16, and 14, and have already won many prizes and have proved very popular wherever they appear.  They recently were included in an international CD of top young accordionists.

At each concert there will be a dance band to perform and play for the dance – they are all broadcasting bands who have appeared on the BBC’s Take the Floor.

On Saturday morning the Youth Concert will take place, and this comprises groups and individuals from local tutors, including Shetland’s Young Fiddler of the Year at junior, intermediate, and senior level.   This will be followed by the Youth Sessions – an informal get-together for young players which will be led by both local and visiting players.

Clickimin is the place to go on Saturday evening!  The Festival Grand Dance will have non-stop music from 10 top dance bands, and there will be 26 dances, ranging from the ever-popular Boston Twostep, St Bernards Waltz, and Dashing White Sergeant through to the Lomond Waltz and Postie’s Jig and many others.

For the first time, the festival has commissioned its own DVD of the Grand Dance and it should be available shortly afterwards.  Orders can be taken in the Festival Shop in the Islesburgh Hub, and they will be posted out when available.

The Grand Dance at the Clickimin.

Sunday sees the final two concerts of the festival.  They are held at the Festival Hub and the Garrison Theatre and will feature some of the top visiting artistes.  The concerts comprise the same musicians who will move between the two venues.

As well as all the foregoing, there will be music each day at the Festival Hub, with dancing on the Friday and Saturday afternoons.  If past experience is anything to go by, there will also be a great number of impromptu sessions in the various session rooms in the Hub!

All the details for the festival can be found online at the Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival’s new web page.

This now includes information on each venue, artistes, times, etc and all tickets can be booked online.

The committee are pleased to note that as usual there are many visitors coming to Shetland for the festival – they comprise musicians, dancers, and sometimes just listening enthusiasts, all coming to hopefully enjoy this, the 33rdAccordion and Fiddle extravaganza!

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