2011 Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival
Matthew McLennan & Colin Sutherland
Craig Paton Band
Jeremy Spencer & Matt Griffin
Gemma Donald & Ryan Couper
Ivor Gear, Bryan Gear & Jimmy Burgess
John Burns Trio
Visiting Artists to the 2011 Festival
Alan Gardiner Trio
Alan Gardiner’s Scottish Dance Band has broadcast on ‘Take the Floor’ since 1988. The band have recorded three cds and have played as a number of functions overseas including New Zealand, Kenya, Uganda, Indonesia, Spain, Portugal and even the Isle of Mull! Alan attended the 1st, 2nd and 4th Shetland Festivals – a long time ago now!
Clappy Doo Ceilidh Band
Previously the Graeme Munro Dance Band, the Clappy Doo Ceilidh Band have played throughout Europe and beyond. They have completed two radio broadcasts and have a newly released cd. The Band plays at all types of functions from country dances to weddings. Johnny, Graeme and Alistair have played together most of their musical lives and the present band has been gigging for over 5 years.
Band members are Graeme Munro, Shauna Flockhart, Andrew Knight, Johnny Bridges, Alastair Wood.
Craig Paton Band
The Craig Paton Band comprises Craig on lead accordion, Liam Stewart on second accordion, Andy Kain on fiddle, Sam Rutherford on piano, Brian Cruickshank on bass and Duncan Christie on drums. The Band is a mixture of youth and experience, each musician is a Scottish Traditional music champion in their own right. Craig is the current Senior All Scotland Accordion Champion winning the title at the age of 18 in October 2010. This will be the band’s first visit up to the Festival.
Accomplished fiddle player from Orkney, Diane appeared at the 2007 festival as part of the group Quarterdeck and along with Jenny Keldie in 2009 and is delighted to be asked back. She is leader of the Orkney West Mainland Strathspey and Reel Society and a fiddle tutor. Accompanying Diane at this year’s Festival is regular a regular visitor to Shetland, accordionist Matthew MacLennan
Donna Harkin and Friends
Donna Harkin – Button Accordion
Donna Harkin is a button accordion player of acclaim from Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.
Recognised as an accomplished musician of her genre, she has played with many of the greats from within the tradition and has recorded for a number of artistes as well as having performed for both television and radio.
Coming from a modern concept of delivery and technique infused with traditional character and charm, her solo playing is driven, passionate and full of fun, melodic flourishes intertwined with a punchy rhythmic dynamism, crystal clear triplets and an extensive, up-tempo repertoire. Uniquely, she has an intuitive touch that is most readily apparent in her rendition of slow airs, bringing a gentle, plaintive and sensitive beauty rarely found in the delivery of such pieces on this notoriously breathy and punctuated instrument.
Donna has been playing on the national and international circuits for 22 years and among her many trips she has been to Europe a number of times, most recently as a coordinator and teacher at the George Caruthers music school in Elmstein Germany. She has toured in Romania, Germany, Spain and Africa.
A musician, teacher and composer of traditional Irish music, one of her latest compositions ‘With Friends in Mind’ (a piece written for a traditional ensemble) was performed at a composers concert in the Great Hall in Magee University Derry in December 2009 and she studied in New Brunswick, Canada in the spring of 2011 to further her composition studies as part of the final year of her music degree, and she graduated in June 2011 with an honours degree.
Donna released her debut CD in the autumn of 2010 – ‘Tell it Like it is’ – an honest and worthy collection of musical favourites drawn from her years of performance and it includes a number of her own compositions as well as familiar stalwarts from the rich Irish tradition.
Fiona Heywood - Singer
Fiona Heywood was born and raised in Ayrshire, in South West Scotland. Her parents were heavily involved in the traditional music scene in the area, and she grew up surrounded by many great musicians and singers.
Her mother, Heather Heywood, is regarded as one of the foremost traditional singers in Scotland, a real tradition bearer, and has recorded and toured extensively. Her father, Pete, is the editor of The Living Tradition, a specialist traditional and folk music magazine with a worldwide readership.
With such a pedigree, it is no wonder that Fiona developed a love for traditional and contemporary song, and this is evident in her handling of material passed down through her mother, as well as songs she has collected from other sources.
Fiona delivers a unique combination of youthfulness and ancient authenticity in her performances, a testimony to her deep immersion in the tradition from an early age – an old wisdom in a young vocalist.
Singing a mixture of Scottish, Irish and English songs, she effectively conveys the emotions and stories within them. Fiona has a voice of pure silk, gentle and clear, caressing top notes with an elegant hue and giving an embodiment to her material that engages the emotions and the senses.
Jim Byrne - Guitar
Jim Byrne hails from Belfast, and from an early age has honed his skills as an innovative and intuitive guitar player.
He has been an integral part of the thriving Belfast session scene, and toured extensively as the singer and guitar player with the Belfast based band, Craobh Rua, one of the most in-demand Irish groups in folk circles in Europe and America.
Currently living in Donegal, Jim is very much in demand as an accompanist throughout the county and further afield. His vivacious and rhythmic guitar style provides a colourful and stoic backbone that allows melody players to move around, and he has the ability to transform the sound completely whilst remaining subtle and complimentary.
Jim is also an accomplished melody player and delivers rapturous renditions of traditional material reminiscent of the great harpists of ancient times, delivered with a delicacy and poignancy that is rare in modern guitarists.
He accompanies songs with an insightful and sensitive touch, being aware of exactly what each song needs and how best to enhance it. Jim is also a fine singer, and has a wealth of songs, mostly from the Irish tradition.
Donna, Fiona and Jim have been performing together on a regular basis over the past 4 years and together they are a dynamic and spirited ensemble.
Emmet O’Halloran is a button accordion player and native of East Clare. Being from an area of such strong musical traditions and unique style, he could not help being influenced by it and that can be heard in his music. Other influences come from East Galway, Tipperary and Fermanagh. He has been performing for a number of years in the East Clare region and had attended many traditional festivals. He is also a founding member of the “Lough Erne Ceili Band” and “Lough’ed”, two contrasting groups with great potential.
Ewan Galloway and Andrew Gibb
Although Ewan has only been playing for 6½ years he has gone from strength to strength, he has just released his first cd in December 2010 which has already sold over 400 copies. He is well known around the Scottish borders for playing at Old Tyme/Ceilidh dances and accordion clubs. He first met Andrew Gibb two years ago when he was looking for a drummer as his own drummer was engaged. Since then they have played on numerous occasions. Andrew is also a former Scottish Accordion Champion. They enjoy playing a varied programme which will keep everyone’s toes tapping!
Gemma Donald and Iain Anderson
Winner of the 2006 Glenfiddich Fiddle Championships at Blair Castle on her very first attempt, Gemma now follows a varied and busy professional career in performing, writing and teaching. She is already a seasoned veteran of national and international live appearances, including acclaimed shows at Celtic Connections, Piping Live, the Scots Traditional Music Awards, Cannes Film Festival, Athens Saint Andrews Day and a Ceilidh for the British Amassador in Nigeria. A previous competitor at the 'Shetland Young Fiddler of the Year', Gemma had the privilege of being invited to adjudicate at the 2010 & 2011 competitions alongside fellow fiddlers Aly Bain and Bryan Gear. She will also be adjudicating at the 2012 competition.
Described as one of Scotland’s most accomplished and versatile fiddlers in any genre, Iain Anderson is in constant demand as a performer, composer and teacher. He spends a lot of time touring with folk group "Càirdeas" most recently appearing on stage with the Dubliners, Tom Donovan and Dougie MacLean OBE at the 2011 Skagen Festival. In Scotland Iain works freelance playing concerts and ceilidhs with a number of different musicians including "The Reel Thing Ceilidh Band" who are also playing at this year’s festival.
Shetland festival regular, bandleader and RSAMD graduate, Nicky McMichan, accompanies Gemma and Iain on keyboard.
George Balfour from Friockheim by Arbroath performed at the Festival in 2008 and makes a welcome return. George is a self-taught 3 row player and "none reader of the dots". He is a past winner of the Blairgowrie Senior Scottish open and bronze medal winner of the Perth Senior Scottish Open.
Graeme has played the accordion since the age of 10 and he is the 3rd Generation of the family band Jim Mackay's Dance band. This gave him a good start and he started playing public performances at the age of 11.
Graeme won my 1st button key championship at the age of 14 and he has won it 12 times since then. He has won the senior Traditional Championships at NAAFC twice.
Graeme plays in various bands, Mackay's dance band is still going strong and is a great Scottish Dance band, he plays in a modern wedding Band called Anne Dicksons Band and also a ceilidh Rock band called "Tweed"
He is now a full time Musician and had several resident gigs in the Speyside area and is now celebrating an International career playing regularly throughout Europe & Russia.
Holly Geraghty, Jonathan Roche and Matt Griffin
Holly Geraghty hails from Ballindine, a small town in south Mayo steeped in a rich tradition of Irish music. From an early age Holly displayed a huge interest and talent in Irish traditional music. At the tender age of six years Holly began to play the concertina under the tutelage of her mother Bernie Geraghty, a renowned musician and teacher. Jonathan Roche hails from Brosna, a small parish in the Sliabh Luachra area of North Kerry steeped in a rich musical tradition. From an early age Jonathan displayed a keen interest in traditional Irish music, the accordion in particular, having spent many afternoons "pulling and tearing" at an old battered hohner in his grandfather’s attic! Matt Griffin will be accompanying them on guitar.
Iain Cathcart and his Band
This popular six piece band have made in excess of 100 trips to Shetland between them in various guises over the past 20 years. The band’s regular line up of Iain, Alistair, James, Graham, Scott and Mark make their sixth collective trip for this year’s Festival. The band recently released a follow up cd to the critically acclaimed “as if by magic…” entitled “Truly Scrumptious”, which contains some ‘out of genre’ items together with more traditional material played in the usual bold Scottish Dance Music style they have become accustomed for.
Jeremy Spencer and Sean Leahy
Jeremy Spencer is a fiddle player from Carlow town, now residing in Dingle. He graduated from the UCC School of Music in 2006 and since then has performed with numerous shows and groups, both at home and abroad, picking up influences from a variety of musicians and regional styles along the way. Jeremy teamed up with guitar player Sean Leahy and they released their debut album “The Side Over” in 2010.
Sean Leahy is a young musician from West Kerry with a strong musical heritage, which descends from the Blasket Islands. He has been playing the guitar since he was 16 years of age and has drawn influence from many of the great traditional guitar players such as Steve Cooney, Donogh Hennessy and Jim Murray. He has recently released his debut album ‘The Side Over’ with fiddle player Jeremy Spencer. The album is a lively and honest reflection of Sean’s style of guitar playing.
Sean Leahy and Jeremy Spencer's music has thankfully become a warm and familiar sound in West Kerry over the last few years. They have a strong connection to the music of the area, which is fantastically obvious to the listen on this, their debut album "The Side Over". Sean connection to this music goes way back, it's rhythms and grooves are as natural to him as breathing, coupled with Jeremy's strong traditional style and gorgeous melodic variations, it's mix that makes perfect musical sense. On listening to Jeremy and Sean play together, their connection, both as friends and musicians sing out in every note they play. From track to track, from note to note and from West Kerry and beyond their genuine love and deep appreciation of Irish music can be clearly heard. With Donogh Hennessy sharing his wealth of experience from engineering to arranging, they have created an album that represents them beautifully. Sean and Jeremy have an eye on the past while looking to the future, putting their own unique stamp on the tradition.
Kristan Harvey and Megan Henderson
2011 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, Orcadian fiddler Kirstan Harvey, and multi-instrumentalist Megan Henderson met in 2007 at the RSAMD in Glasgow were they both were studying classical violin. Four years on the duo have enjoyed performing across Scotland with several line-ups including upcoming band ‘The Sanna’. The girls move effortlessly between beautiful fiddle duets to fiery, tight fiddle/piano sets.
Bigton born fiddler Mark Laurenson will appear as a visiting artiste at this year’s Festival. Mark who now lives in Norway will be accompanied by local musician Ewan Thomson on guitar.
Martin Tourish is an accordionist and composer from Co. Donegal, Ireland. Martin's debut album Clan Ranald was listed by music critic Earle Hitchner of the Irish Echo and Wall Street Journal as being in the top 20 albums of 2005. From the success of the Clan Ranald album, Martin is Listed in The Rough Guide to Ireland as a piano accordionist of note while a track from the album appears in The Rough Guide to Irish Folk Vol. 2. In 2008, he became the first piano accordionist to win TG4's prestigious 'Young Musician of the Year' award which a subsequent article in The Irish Times regarded as "the Irish Music equivalent of an Oscar". He will be joined by guitarist Ciaran Swift whose work across many genres has seen him share the stage with John Martyn, Ronnie Drew (The Dubliners) and Anthony Kearnes (The Irish Tenors) amongst others. Fiddler Adrian Hart made his solo debut in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto in G minor with the RIAM symphony orchestra. Martin was a visiting artiste to the Festival in 2007.
Best known as second box player with the David Cunningham Band, Neil is a former Scottish Accordion Champion and a brilliant player in his own right. Neil was a visiting artiste back in 2006.
Neil Hardie Scottish Dance Band
The Neil Hardie Scottish Dance Band was formed around 10 years ago. The band has had the same 4 or 5 piece line-up from the start. At this year's festival the band will be Neil Hardie on lead accordion, Neil's sister Caroline Hardie on fiddle, Jim Nichol on piano/bass, Brian Forrest on second accordion and Graham Jamieson on drums. The Band has a large following in the Scottish dance scene. They have also appeared at over 35 Festivals and Accordion and Fiddle clubs as guest artiste from the North of England to the Shetland Isles.
Paul comes from a very musical family. Both his father Renald and Grandfather Carmino were professional accordionists. Paul is a classically trained musician and was his Performer and Teachers Diploma of the British College of Accordionists in 1984. He has recently competed at Perth and is the Veteran Traditional Open Classical and Classical Musette Champion. As a teacher he is kept very busy. Some of his former pupils include Keith Dickson, Paul Chamberlain and Garry Forrest.
Pentland Ceilidh Band
Past Ceilidh Band Champions, the band are also regular guests at the Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival, as well as making appearances at the Mull Music Festival, Oban Music Festival, Jura Music Festival and Newcastleton Music Festival.
Robert Whitehead and the Danelaw Dance Band
Robert Whitehead and Graeme Whitehead, accordions; Lucy Patterson and Roddy Matthews, fiddles; David Ashbridge, drums; Anne Thomson, piano.
Stri Tørn (Translates to “Abit of hard work”).This four piece band from western Norway consists of two accordions,guitar and bass. They play a mixture of Norwegian and Swedish dance music. Their playlist includes many well known tunes anging from the great Scandinavian composers of the first half of the 20th century to modern Norwegian dance music. They play lively music, standing upright and as close to the audience as possible.
This is Susan’s 14th visit to the Festival. She has been a guest several times with various bands and as a solo fiddler. Susan currently plays with the bands of Graeme Mitchell, Lynne Christie, Iain Anderson and Ian Muir. She last appeared at the Festival in 2009 wih the Scott Nichol Band. On this occasion she will be accompanied by Tom Orr on piano.
The Reel Thing
Ian Shepherd on Accordion, Alan Irvine on Drums and Alan Crookston on keyboards.