THE DUST had hardly settled after the 2022 Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival before the arrangements for this, the 34th festival, were underway. The programme has now been released, giving details of all the events which kick off with the official opening.
This takes place on Thursday 5 October at 1pm in the Festival Hub, (Islesburgh Community Centre), and the committee is delighted that the opening will be performed by a great supporter and former committee member, Larry Sutherland.
Despite having retired from the committee a few years ago, Larry is a regular attender, and is always willing to be called on when a spare pair of hands – (or a driver!) – is needed.
The weekend will keep to the tried and tested formula of recent years, with a few tweaks here and there. The official base for the festival, the Festival Hub, is again Islesburgh Community Centre, and there will be concerts and dances there on Thursday and Friday nights.
There will also be concerts and dances held at eight country halls covering the length and breadth of Shetland from Cullivoe in the north to the Ness Boating Club in the south, and from Walls in the west to South Nesting in the east. Supper is included at all the country venues.
The concerts will feature both local and visiting artistes. The local Fiddle and Accordion Clubs are always represented with Westside, Northmavine and the Ness clubs taking part and they include a wide age range of local talent.
Other long-standing groups such as the Shetland Fiddlers’ Society and the Heritage Fiddlers will be performing, as well as many of Shetland’s top dance bands. Younger players are also featured, including the 2023 Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year Evie Williamson and groups Kirmirren, Langstrings, and James Morris and Friends.
No festival would be complete without top fiddlers Maggie Adamson and Bryan Gear, and other soloists include Brian Morrison, Andy Kain, Mary Rutherford, and many more.
Norwegian accordionist Vegard Hansen is joined this year by fiddler Ragna Valde Sletten, and they will surely set the feet tapping with their great blend of Scandinavian music. Another foreign musician is American fiddler Charlie Walden who, along with his wife, performs all over America, Canada, Australia, and the UK. This year the Irish connection is maintained with fiddler Manus McGuire who along with Alan Small, Gemma Donald and Brian Nicholson form Full Tilt (see photo below).
Fiddlers Alistair McCulloch and George Davidson have both performed here at a number of festivals as have accordionists Graeme Mackay and Gavin Piper, and all are returning by popular demand. Iain Stewart, an accordionist from Inverness, is making his first appearance at the festival.
Adding something a little different is the Ecky Hodgson Trio. Singer and guitarist Ecky is joined by his wife Isobelle on piano and Iain MacPhail on accordion. An accomplished young group is the Fin Hope Trio who play very regularly at dances and clubs on the Scottish mainland. Accordionists Nicola Braid and Gordon Haddow receive rave reviews for their unique arrangements wherever they play and are not to be missed.
At each of the 10 concerts there will be a Scottish Dance Band to perform and play for the dance, and, as always, they are all broadcasting bands who have appeared on Take the Floor.
On Saturday morning the Youth Concert takes place, comprising groups and individuals from local tutors, and including Shetland’s Young Fiddlers 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 local and visiting musicians.
Something quite exciting is planned by top accordionist Alan Small. In collaboration with the Festival he is holding an Accordion Masterclass in the Islesburgh Community Centre Radio Room from 3-4.30pm on Saturday. Advance bookings for this are recommended and additional information can be obtained from Alan direct on 07967 384069 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday evening at Clickimin is the place to be for the Festival Grand Dance! Always one of the highlights of the festival, there will be no less than 11 dance bands to provide non-stop music for 26 dances, ranging from the ever-popular Boston Twostep, St Bernard’s Waltz, and Dashing White Sergeant to the Lomond Waltz, Postie’s Jig, and many others.
There will again be a top quality DVD of the Grand Dance and this should be available within a few days – orders can be taken in the Festival Shop at the Islesburgh Hub.
On Sunday the final two concerts take place in the Festival Hub and the Garrison Theatre. They will have the same performers at each venue, and will feature some of the top visiting artistes.
As well as the forgoing, there will be music each day at the Festival Hub, with dancing on the Friday and Saturday afternoons. A detailed list of all those playing will be displayed at the Hub. There is no doubt that on top of all this there will be many impromptu sessions in the various rooms at the Hub, as well as on the stairways and stairwells!
The festival details can be found online at the official website at https://www.shetlandaccordionandfiddle.com
This includes much more information on times, artistes, venues, etc, and all tickets can be booked online.
The committee are very happy that as usual there are many visitors coming to Shetland for the festival, not only musicians, but dancers and music enthusiasts alike, and they hope that along with the local support they will all enjoy this, the 34th Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival bonanza!
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