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Arts / Peatbog Faeries and New Orleans-style brass band on Tall Ships music bill

Peatbog Faeries.

SCOTTISH instrumental folk act The Peatbog Faeries, favourite Shetland sons Fiddlers’ Bid and a New Orleans-style brass band are among the first names to be unveiled as part of an eclectic music line-up for this summer’s Tall Ships visit to Lerwick.

The main headliners for the ticketed weekend slots at the town’s Holmsgarth will be announced in the coming weeks, with music programmer Tim Matthew putting the finishing touches to an extensive schedule running the gamut from heavy rock and hardcore electronica to traditional folk.

Matthew is a seasoned sound engineer who also has vast experience as a festival production manager and performing arts programmer, as well as being a versatile musician himself.

He was awarded the contract to programme the musical entertainment last spring.

Since then he has been busy constructing a line-up reflecting Lerwick’s status as the lone Scottish port for the Tall Ships in 2023.

All but one act is drawn from north of the border in a programme designed to appeal to locals and international visitors alike.

“There’s gonna be some great headline slots from across Scotland, and a wealth of local acts showcasing the broad spectrum of genres represented within Shetland,” he said.

Matthew continued: “It’s an interesting challenge to programme for this because it’s a double-headed festival in a way.

“We’re looking to present Shetland culture to the visiting crews, but we’re also looking to entertain locals, so we have to bring in a little bit of something from outside of Shetland.

“It’s an amazing experience for Shetland artistes to perform on a big stage to international audiences and an amazing experience for these international crews to see Shetland musical culture and take that back home with them.”

Peatbog Faeries, a Skye band counting firebrand Shetlanders Ross Couper and Norman Willmore among their number, will headline the free opening day of music at Holmsgarth on Wednesday 26 July.

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The day’s line-up also contains The Revellers.

Saltire Street Band.

The main stage at Holmsgarth, with a capacity of around 5,000, will also play host to ticketed concerts on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday – with the headline acts involved to be announced “very soon”, Matthew said.

In the heart of old Lerwick, a tent stationed at Victoria Pier will see the cream of Shetland’s rich crop of traditional music exponents take to the stage, including a reunited Fiddlers’ Bid.

The band’s Kevin Henderson says they retain “very fond memories” of playing at the Tall Ships’ first visit to Lerwick in 1999 and are “very excited” to be invited to perform this summer.

“It’s been a bit quiet for Fiddlers’ Bid the past while due to the pandemic and availability,” he said. “This will be the first concert since January 2022 and to be doing it in Shetland makes it all the more special for us. It’s always great to get hom to play and events like this are such a great thing for Shetland.”

Traditional music lovers will also be able to enjoy a folk supergroup bridging the North Sea in the form of islander Catriona Macdonald’s new project, fusing the sounds of Shetland, Scotland and Scandinavia. Catriona will be joined by fellow fiddler Annbørg Lien from Norway.

Also joining them will be Inge Thomson, Swedish guitarist Roger Tallroth and Shooglenifty drummer James Mackintosh.

Throughout the four nights of festivities there will be local and visiting DJs spinning records until late at Mareel.

That will incorporate an early evening roller disco for 6-12 year olds on Wednesday and a disco for 12-17 year olds on Thursday, featuring “big and bouncy and glam” tunes from Roberta Pia.

Meanwhile the Saltire Street Band will bring the bold brass flavours of New Orleans, with both a stage performance and a Mardi Gras-style march down Commercial Street.

Shetland-based musicians Jenny Sturgeon and Renzo Spiteri will also collaborate on a specially commissioned surround sound installation in the boat hall of Shetland Museum and Archives at Hay’s Dock. Their piece will be created using sounds recorded on and around boats and the water.

Matthew added: “Before I moved to Shetland, I travelled up from Edinburgh to work at both previous Tall Ships events. The atmosphere was tremendous; Lerwick was buzzing with energy with locals demonstrating the traditional Shetland hospitality and making the visiting crews feel welcome.

“The music programme was for me a fantastic showcase of all that Shetland has to offer from traditional to heavy rock and everything in between.

“I feel very lucky to be able to be involved with that programme this time round. I’ve enjoyed pulling together different strands of the vibrant music scene, helping to create new work, and inviting up both Shetland ‘expats’ and visiting bands. I am very excited to see it come to fruition this July.”

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