Shetland Folk Festival 2014 Line Up

by Deborah Leggate -

The legendary Shetland Folk Festival has announced its line up for the 34th Festival and it includes an exciting mix of local, national and international artistes, Festival favourites and plenty of newcomers. 

Announcing 16 eclectic visiting bands representing genres from traditional folk to gypsy jazz to gospel as well as nearly 50 diverse local bands, organisers hope there will be something to whet everyone's appetite when the island's four day spree of fabulous music, sessions and sleep deprivation gets underway on the 1st May.  With all the visiting acts booked by Davie Henderson, who passed away suddenly in the middle of January, the 34th Festival will be in his honour.

Mhari Pottinger, Publicity officer for the Festival Committee said that, “whilst it is a very difficult time for the committee at the moment, we realise that the show must go on.  Davie served on our committee for nearly 25 years and as the programmer of the Festival's visiting artistes, he has secured Shetland audiences many fantastic and innovative line-ups through the years.  The 34th Festival is certainly no exception”.

North America will be well represented at this year's Festival, firstly with the return of highly popular Canadian roots group, Madison Violet.  They were the massive hit of the 2009 Festival with their iconic Americana inspired up-tempo melodies combined with breathtakingly sweeping and personal lyrics.  Also booked are the now Vancouver based American Gospel group The Sojourners who perform songs that's enough to “make a music loving atheist have second thoughts!”  The rhythmic and punchy young Newfoundland traditional band, The Dardanelles will also perform, who are widely recognised as one of the best live acts in the world these days.  Also making their debut in the islands are the trio of Brittany Haas, Jordan Tice and Paul Kowert who are a confluence of three of the most exciting young musicians in American acoustic music today.  Completing the significant North America contingent is the 14-piece dance group from Manitoba, Canada – The Asham Stompers – whose members are half Métis and half First nations, who showcase the traditional dancing of their aboriginal communities in spectacular style.

From nearer to home, the Orcadian 8-piece riot of fiddles, banjos, accordions and drums – The Chair – are booked for their 4th Shetland Folk Festival appearance.  They'll appear for one night only whilst Saltfishforty, who are now performing as a 5 piece, will perform at concerts the whole weekend.  With Orcadian tunes at the core of both band's sound, they stomp these up with fantastic contemporary compositions.

Also booked from Scotland is of one of the brightest rising stars on today's Scottish folk scene, singer songwriter Adam Holmes and the Embers.  Imagine the sound of John Martyn's strum and sting, laced with a slice of Paolo Nutini soul with a touch of traditional folk, and that gives you a feel of what to expect. The members of Scottish based Rose Room have a shared love for Stephane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt and the songs of the Swing Jazz era and will transport listeners back to the 1930s.  Meanwhile the captivating duo of Mairearad Green & Anna Massie will perform more traditional Scottish music in a highly energetic manner whilst we welcome back one of Scotland's most exciting fiddlers, Adam Sutherland who is currently embarking on a solo career.

From elsewhere in Europe, MANdolinMAN have been booked from Belgium, an all mandolin four piece performing a combination of original music, Flemish folk tunes and some Bossa Nova!  Nordic Fiddlers Bloc blend Norwegian, Swedish and Shetland fiddle styles in a sound that is unique, intense and invigorating while FullSet create a stunning sound that is full of energy and innovation and who are quickly becoming one of the most well known bands in Irish music scene today.  London's best loved Mariachi band, Mariachi Tequila, will bring us a Mexican flavour to the Festival and competing the visiting act line up is Brighton based, The Moutain Firework Company who are fronted by the creative force that is Belfast born, Gareth McGahan.   Compared to everyone from the Waterboys and Dire Straits to Richard Thomson, they've been garnering praise on both sides of the Atlantic.

As in previous years, most visiting musicians will be in Shetland for the Festival's duration, immersed in the community and performing at different venues throughout the isles alongside a multitude of first class local acts.  These include the 2014 Danny Award winner Arthur Nicholson, the legendary duo of Bryan Gear & Violet Tulloch and the Revellers, one of Shetland's most entertaining and exciting groups with their mixture of fast and furious playing and flamboyant stage antics.

Early memberships are on sale now and will close on the 28th February and these customers will be able to book their concert tickets online for the three weeks before they go on sale to the general public. Tickets will go on sale to early members from mid March and to the general public from the 5th April.  For the first time, the Festival will be operating exclusively with an online system for the purchase of memberships and concert tickets. 

As in previous years, The Festival Foy is expected to be the fastest selling ticket of the weekend, with virtually all being consumed by early members in recent years.  These famous
“Festival Foy” events on Sunday 4th will see most visiting musicians play three separate 15-minute slots in three different venues.

For more information on the Festival, including all the visiting acts" biographies with sound samples please visit the website: www.shetlandfolkfestival.com