SATURDAY night saw a packed Scalloway Hall treated to a night of music and culture for all the family in the last event of the Shetland Jazz and World Sounds (JAWS) season.
Headliner Sidiki Dembele from the Ivory Coast arrived in Shetland the previous Sunday. Over the course of the week he taught African drumming to over 600 local bairns, alongside familiar face Joy Duncan.
But all that was just a warm up for Dembele – the big night on Saturday was the busiest JAWS gig of the year, according to the committee.
With hardly an empty seat in sight and the hall decked out in fabrics and flags, the concert kicked off with Sidiki leading a group of bairns and then adults that had been part of the workshops that afternoon.
Sidiki’s energy and joy was infectious. The courting song performed by the adult group was full of passion, a love letter to the music itself.
After some intermission music provided by DJ Lyall, local folk band Odesa took to the stage.
Despite being slightly depleted in numbers, the group provided a powerful set of Ukrainian toe-tapping tunes.
Their final few songs even got audience members of all ages on their feet.
Sidiki returned to the stage with his djembe drum, this time accompanied by local percussionist Renzo Spiteri for some improvisation.
Despite the men only meeting briefly the night before the concert, they performed like they had known one another for years, drums engaged in a free flowing conversation.
Their passionate and expressive set was met with a standing ovation.
Stonehaven group Drummin Aboot joined Sidiki for more impressive beats before Odesa came back for their second set.
Ever since Joy Duncan brought an African drum to Shetland 19 years ago, she told the crowd on Saturday it was always her dream to hear the drums and Shetland fiddles play together.
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The musicians made Joy’s vision a reality, making the night a truly unique experience.
The unlikely but beautiful mix of cultures even got the crowd dancing again.
The night finished (or perhaps it was only just getting going?) with all the performers packing on to the stage for some last few songs.
As well as a memorable night of music, the JAWS committee wanted to celebrate diversity and inclusion in conjunction with Shetland Staands wi Black Lives Matter initiative.
The concert marked three years since hundreds of Shetlanders stood up and marched against racism in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in the US.
Joy believes that Shetland has “changed for the better” over the last few years.
It was deeply moving to see so many people of different cultures come together and connect via music.
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