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Arts / US singer-songwriter ready for Mareel gig – after nearly three years of waiting

IT WILL be a case of better late than never when Nashville-based singer-songwriter Rachel Baiman finally takes to the stage at Mareel next week.

She was originally due to play the Lerwick venue in the summer of 2020, but a certain something got in the way.

The Americana and bluegrass musician, who is well-versed in fiddle, will make up for lost time, however, when she heads to Shetland for the gig next Thursday (9 March).

The concert, promoted by Ragged Wood, will see local Americana favourites Kansa return as support.

“I’ve been looking forward to my first visit to Shetland for years,” Baiman said. “The wait will only make it sweeter.”

Baiman is heading out on the road to promote her new record Common Nation of Sorrow, which is due out on 31 March.

She said the album is in some ways “an evolution, but in other ways it’s a step back towards the more acoustic sounds of [previous record] ‘Shame’.

“Hopefully I managed to pull the best elements from my two past records and combine them into an even better production for this one.”

Originally from Chicago, Baiman moved to Nashville aged 18 and has spent the last decade working as a musician in a wide variety of roles, from session musician (Molly Tuttle, Kelsey Waldon, Caroline Spence), to live sidewoman (Kacey Musgraves, Amy Ray), to bandmate and producer.

So what can the Shetland audience expect from the concert?

“The show will be myself and bass player/singer Steve Haan accompanying me,” Baiman explains.

“We will be playing a bunch of songs off of ‘Common Nation of Sorrow’, as well as some older material from ‘Cycles’ and ‘Shame’.

“The duo shows leave a lot of space for banjo and fiddle and heavily feature the harmony vocals.”

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Baiman also collaborated in the recent past and toured with Orcadian singer-songwriter Kris Drever, who is well known to the Shetland audience having previously lived in the isles for a number of years.

She explained that Drever is “one of my favourite musicians, and has become a great friend”.

“My duo 10 String Symphony reached out to him years ago and asked him to produce our record, Generation Frustration, which he did a phenomenal job on,” the multi-instrumentalist continued.

“That was an awesome collaboration and led to me opening a run of shows for him in the UK, releasing a collaborative single ‘Hard Times in Babylon’, and playing on his recent Celtic Connections show.

“I have high hopes for more work with Kris down the road.”

Tickets for Rachel Baiman, supported by Kansa, at Mareel on 9 March are still available.

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