Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Club

2013 Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival

Visiting Artists to the 2013 Festival


Aileen (button Accordion), Emma (Bodhran) and Ciaran (Guitar and Flute) are three of a family of four musicians from County Fermanagh. Their influences come from musicians from various parts of the country namely Clare, Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim and Cavan. In the last couple of years they have performed at numerous festivals around the world including in Spain, Estonia, France, Holland, Portugal, Sardinia and Bulgaria, as well as many festivals throughout Ireland including Miltown Mallaby, Ballyshannon, Ballyvaughan, Drumshanbo and the All Ireland Fleadh. They are also founding members of "The Lough Erne Ceili Band" and "Lough'ed". They enjoy playing in sessions and meeting musicians from all over the country.


Anne has been playing the fiddle since the young age of 8 and has studied under many tutors, most recently Paul Anderson of Tarland. Hailing from the village of Insch, she has sinced moved to Inverurie to be closer to her work. Over the years, Anne has competed at many of the major competitions including the Oban Masters and the prestigious Glenfiddich Fiddle Championships where she accepted the Best Newcomer award in her first year. Since then, she has overcome an injury in her arm which restricted her playing severely and is now firmly back in action. Anne is hoping to progress further this year after her problems of late and will be taking up lessons again during her busy schedule.


From the Oslo area of Norway this group formed in 1992. They play Norwegian old traditional music. They play mostly in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. The group consists of 6 members playing accordions, double bass and flute. This year they have played in Ranseter in Sweden, Persmoen in Norway and Malung in Sweden which is a huge Festival attracting 9,000 people.


Alasdair MacCuish and the Black Rose Ceilidh band have been performing now for over 20 years. Formed in the midst of the Glasgow ceilidh fever that existed in the early nineties, the band have always sought to provide a mixture of innovation and tradition – placing Scottish Dance music in a contemporary context whilst always being inspired by the great sounds have gone before.

Alasdair himself was a former Scottish champion, and in 2003 the Black Rose Ceilidh Band were the first recipients of the dance band award at the inaugural Scot Trad Music awards. They have released 4 albums to date –the last being Stepping Out in 2002.

After a few years of focusing on family and the day job, Alasdair decided 2013 would be a good year to get the band back together. They have been back in the studio over the summer and will be releasing their brand new album at the Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival! They are also looking forward to providing the musical soundtrack to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations as they perform at the famous Street Party.

The band have been to Shetland many times, and always love playing for the Shetland dancers, who in Alasdair’s words are ‘second to none!’


Craig is originally from the West Coast town of Oban but now resides in Aberdeen. He has been playing the accordion from a young age, being brought up with music in the family home. His style of music is focused on the pipe idiom. This will be his second trip to the festival after a thoroughly enjoyable debut trip last year where he was playing with Matthew MacLennan SDB. He will be accompanied on piano by accomplished musician Scott Nichol. Scott started playing the piano at the age of 6 before taking up the accordion 4 years later with tutor Keith Dickson. Since then he has performed with Keith’s accordion orchestra KODA and several dance bands in the scene today at gigs and competitions around Scotland and further afield. He has have previously attended the festival with his own band, the Andrew Gibb Trio and Tom Orr SDB.


Chris (lead accordion), his wife Julie (2nd box), and their son Nick (percussion) have enjoyed playing for Scottish dance events the length and breadth of (mainly) England since 2000. They are much in demand! Their extensive repertoire includes many tunes from the Shetland Islands, which makes their first visit here and to the Festival very special.


Emmet O Halloran is honoured to be returning to the festival for the second time. Emmet 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.

Marty ‘Ted’ Dempsey hails from Co Armagh with a very distinctive style of playing. Now living in Co Fermanagh, Marty is an excellent accompanist and also a founding member of ‘Lough’ed’. He is an aficionado of elegant bodhrán playing, the guitar and is no stranger to the use of the bones as a form of accompaniment. This is Marty’s first trip to Shetland and is really looking forward to the experience.


Travelling from Rome, Gianni is the second Italian accordionist to appear at the Festival.  Gianni began his musical studies at the age of 8 years, initially prompted by a family tradition.  His repertoire ranges from vairous genres: variete, swing, jazz, blues, light, smooth and Latin American.


Graeme Mackay has been a full time musician for 7 years. Being the grandson of bandleader Jim Mackay, he was brought up in the dance music scene. Now a band leader in his own right including the contemporary band "TWEED", he has brought his dance music trio for the Shetland festival. This includes Rachel Campbell on fiddle and Neil MacGregor on the drums. Rachel has been playing and teaching the fiddle for several years. Now also a full time musician, she has had a busy summer running the all new and independent "Caledonian Ceilidh Trail" around the Inverness area. Neil, from Caithness, has made a name for himself playing with various musicians on accordion, piano and drums. 


Making a return trip to Shetland after over 30 years.
Now resident in Penicuik, Grant is originally from East Kilbride and as such the West Coast influences his taste in music orientates to the late, great Bobby McLeod and pipe music. He is more of a ‘traditionalist’ preferring the older style of Scottish Dance music to the more modern ‘folky’ approach adopted by the younger generation so yes, he would class himself as a dinosaur.
Although not a household name Grant has served his apprenticeship playing both accordion and keyboards with various band and considers himself fortunate to have gained a good musical grounding and experience.

Grant has also been fortunate to have travelled and played abroad through his music including Brazil and most of Europe.
Hopefully a new publication of his compositions will be available at The Festival.

Several of his tunes have been broadcast and recorded by bands such as Colin Dewar, Gordon Shand, Sandy Nixon and Shetland’s own, Da Fustra.

Grant currently favours using a Roland FR3 accordion.

He also has a foot in the C&W scene playing bass and keyboards with a number of bands and artistes recently appearing on BBC Alba.


The band was formed in 2004 to compete at competitions after meeting through the band KODA. Since then we have enjoyed travelling all over to various festivals and events and after visiting the Shetland festival as a trio for the first time in 2007 it has become an annual highlight for us. The band is now very much a social focal point for the members who have grown up together and become good friends over the years. Weddings, ceilidhs and parties are now common place for the band.


Marie is a full time fiddler/composer and has played with numerous bands over the years including; Jim Johnstone, Tom Orr, Black Rose Ceilidh Band, John Carmichael, Bill Black, Neil Barron, Ian Muir, David Cunningham to name a few. Marie teaches at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The Tolbooth, Stirling. Self-taught at age 10, Marie discovered her love of all styles of Traditional music, influenced hugely by Shetland, Ireland and Mull. Over the years she has appeared on over 70 albums and has her own record label, recently releasing An Tra, a collaboration of Scottish and Irish musicians. Two of her recordings were nominated for Album of the Year. 2013 has been eventful, with events at Celtic Connections, workshops, Take The Floor sessions and a National Trust Cruise. Marie has entertained the Queen at Balmoral but just as happy playing for dancing in the local village hall. As well as adjudicating at festivals, Marie was Trad Advisor for Scottish Arts Council for 4 years and remains on a Live Music Now panel and Dundee Music Award.

Wizard accordionist and pianist Duncan Black will be accompanying Marie. Both play in the trio Tribute and dedicate most of their material to the greats of the past and present. Duncan, a Scottish champion and master of his instrument, played with Jim Johnstone's band for many years, as well as broadcasting with his own line up. Duncan has a special gift for arrangements and his love of jazz brought himself and the late great Billy Thom together for sessions. His musicality was recognised recently when Duncan was a cast member of a show at the Edinburgh Fringe which got top reviews.


Broadcast for BBC Radio Scotland for 12 years. Graduate of the RSAMD Scottish music course. Band leader, composer, arranger and drummer. Nicky runs weekly sessions at The Park Bar, Glasgow. Nicky McMichan - Band leader, Matthew MacLennan - 2nd box, Iain Anderson – Fiddle, Dennis Morrison – Piano, Mark MacDougall – Bass.


This West Coast of Scotland Ceilidh Band comprises Niall (son of well-known 3-row band leader Charlie Kirkpatrick), Stuart Cameron on piano, Alasdair Macleod on bass, Stevie MacInnes on drums and also John Burns on second accordion. Guesting with the band is Shetland's own Gemma Donald on the fiddle. This is the band's second appearance at the festival following their debut in 2008.


Fiddle Player, Poet and Violin Maker, In 2008 Paul represented Irish fiddle playing at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend WA, USA. He has played at many major festivals world wide e.g. Drannouter Festival, (Belgium), Folk Est, (Italy), Vijlandii Festival (Estonia), et al. With his band 'Dorsa' Paul toured USA and Europe on numerous occasions and he has been featured on TV and radio broadcasts in Ireland and abroad. Paul performed his poetry at Celtic Connections as a central part of the 'Singing Tree' (2007) for which he was commissioned to write. 

This summer (2013), Paul's comittments include a Fiddle Masterclass at Farra d'Isonzo, Italy (28-29-30 June), (plus concert dates in Italy TBC). Paul will give Workshops and perform at the fiddle concert at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, Miltown Malbay, County Clare. Paul has been invited to teach fiddle masterclass at Tocane near Bordeaux in France from July 20th to July 27th.

Of his last solo album 'Atlantic Roar', a five-star review in The Irish Times said :

"Changes of key and of style show off not only his talent and utter ease with the instrument but also his complete understanding of the music he plays"... 

Currently Paul is recording an album of his own compostitions on a violin of his own making. (See for information on Paul's fiddle making.)

Ruairi Cunnane follows in the footsteps of his father Mickey as a talented guitarist. He is widely sought after as a backer for Traditional Irish Music and as a subtle interpreter of songs on guitar. Ruairi has already visited Shetland with the singer/song writer Bríd Murphy. As well as being in demand for touring with bands and solo artists, Ruairi is also much sought after as a studio guitarist by many musicians and singers. He brings much of the accompaniment styles of the seventies into his sound along with something that is entirely his own. Although percussive and attacking his style is rich and his sound is full. He is currently based in the musically thriving city of Belfast where he is regarded as one of the finest musicians around.


Bruce Peebles (accordion) and George Gray (drums) have been friends for over twenty years and have played music together, on and off, during that whole time. They have played in several BBC Take the Floor broadcasts together, many with other bands, as well as performing at many previous Festivals in Shetland. Both share a love for well played, swinging traditional music however both also have a much wider appreciation of many different kinds of music, including the classical, jazz and popular genres. Using midi accordion bass and slightly more drums than a standard dance band set up, they are going to play a mix of material displaying some of these styles. Good melodies and interesting rhythms await!


Troon based Roy Hendrie and his Scottish Dance Band have been playing for over 20 years, mainly in the South West of Scotland, performing for ceilidhs, Scottish Country Dancing and Old Tyme. They have produced 4 cds and have appeared on BBC TV’s MOD programme as well as many broadcasts on ‘Take the Floor’. Over the last few years Roy has been involved in midi systems for accordions. From designing and programming his own midi system, he is now the main UK dealer/distributor for LIMEX midi and sound products. Roy has helped specify and develop a bas midi soundboard which fits inside the accordion and is currently sampling many celtic traditional instruments and percussive rhythms for a new celtic soundboard.


Their first visit to Shetland was in 1989 and they have thoroughly enjoyed their visits every few years since then. Two of the regular band members for many years "retired" in 2009---they are delighted to have the two new regular band members with them on this year's visit to the Shetland Festival. They still play regularly, mainly for Scottish Country Dancing nowadays, all over the country.


Shona has been playing fiddle for roughly 14 years. She has competed in several fiddle competitions across Scotland at both junior and senior levels. She has also competed in the Oban Fiddle Masters competition 6 times and the prestigious Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship 5 times. Shona graduated from the RSAMD (now The Royal Conservitoire of Scotland) with a BA in Scottish Music and went on to study childcare. She has appeared on BBC Radio Scotland's Take The Floor on 6 ocassions with her sister, Susan's band. Having been up to Shetland numerous times as a guest in a trio and full band with her sister this is Shona's first visit as a solo act. Accompanying Shona is her sister Susan on piano.


Stella Wilkie is no stranger to Shetland having played at the first 10 festivals. She enjoys solo and band work. Over the years she has played with many great band musicians including Jimmy Blue and Bobby Crowe and for the last 10 years she has played with her brother Kevin Clark in the Craigowl Dance Band.

Stella has played solo fiddle accompanied by Joan Blue for the last 8 years. They both derive and give great pleasure through playing for “Music in Hospitals,” a charity which brings live music to residents of care homes, hospitals and hospices.

Joan Blue has been playing the piano since the age of ten. At fourteen, she was playing for three Scottish country dance classes each week and at fifteen was in her first dance band. She has broadcast and made records with various Scottish musicians and, of course, it was through music that Joan met her husband, the late Jimmy Blue.

Joan has accompanied many of the great Scottish fiddlers including Ron Gonella, Ian Powrie and Angus Fitchet. She is greatly in demand as an accompanist at various festivals and concerts and also has a Scottish fiddle group at a Perthshire school.


Accordionist Stuart Anderson from the Scottish Borders first formed his band many years ago. Having released a CD a few years back and broadcast on Take the Floor the band regularly plays for Old Time and Scottish Country dances throughout the UK. Appearing alongside Stuart are regular musicians Isobelle Hodgson on piano and Kieran Johnstone on drums.


Tom has lived in Buncrana in the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal since the early nineties, however, his early musical awakenings occurred in Crewe , Cheshire the area in which he was born and reared. He was absorbed with music from boyhood while under the influence of his late father Paddy, a fiddler and composer of traditional tunes and songs from Malin in the Inishowen Peninsula and who, most interestingly, had lived for a period of his youth in Kilcar, a heartland of traditional fiddle players in South West Donegal. The heightened fervour for Irish culture and the arts in general in the lives and minds of his parents who had left Ireland in the mid - fifties, provided daily inspiration for Tom; in particular, the role of Tom’s father who was the embodiment of creativity in all its forms from music to prose and poetry, was paramount in his formative years.

Essentially an accordion and harmonica player of Traditional Irish Music, Tom has always been interested in many styles of music, clearly apparent in his repertoire and compositions. From blues to classical to traditional, jazz or French musette he is fascinated with them all. In his youth he saw Oscar Peterson playing in the Town Hall in Birmingham and was an avid listener to records of Ella Fitzgerald and Stephane Grappelli while at the same time in the traditional idiom, exhibiting an equal obsession with among others Sean McGuire and Joe Burke. His father had an eclectic taste in music, a reflection of the diversity of music which was equally valued (and still is) in Inishowen. Since returning to Ireland he has played with some of the great older fiddle players and carriers of the tradition in Donegal including Francie Dearg Byrne, James Byrne, Dinny Mclaughlin and Seamus Grant. At present he plays regularly in Inishowen, an area of wonderful natural beauty which is mirrored by the richness of its musical legacy in music, song and dance, a legacy which is being consolidated and passed on to the next generation by some of Ireland’s leading musicians and teachers who live, teach and perform regularly there.

Throughout the nineties and particularly in the last ten year’s Tom’s collaboration with other groups and musicians has raised his profile and presented his music to a wider audience. He has appeared on a number of music programmes including ‘Geantrai’, ‘Ceillidh House’ and ‘Feilte’. At the ‘Ar Ais Aris Festival’ in Buncrana in 2007 accompanied by Michael Gallanagh on guitar, he played a number of selections of high powered hornpipes and reels with variations on the harmonica to a packed audience at the Festival Club. He received a rapturous reception and a standing ovation led by fiddle maestro Frankie Gavin which led to an invitation as special guest at the main fiddle concert of the ‘Derry Fiddle Fest 2007’ held at the Guildhall. His fascination for playing traditional music on the harmonica and his exceptional ability on the instrument have astounded concert goers in Ireland and abroad. The release of his debut cd in August 2009 which features Frankie Gavin, further established his reputation as a virtuoso performer.
A number of performances with Frankie drew excellent reviews including Tommy Peoples’ review (March4th 2008) of their duet at the Balor Theatre, County Donegal:

‘A jewel of a night: Frankie Gavin and Tom Byrne at The Balor: ‘……… These two performers proved that Irish traditional inherently covers all the genres, the blues of blues, the jazz of jazz, the rock of rock, the rhythms of the heart, the dialogue of joy in equality. They could grace any stage, touch the heart of prince or pauper.’
Rhythm, swing, tone and precision are Tom’s hallmarks when he performs some of the most challenging and beautiful tunes in the traditional repertoire. His musicality is most evident in his rendition of slow airs such as ‘Macushla’ and his heart rending composition, ‘Caoineadh na Neacht –Chiontach’

Over the last few years, earlier interests in composition have continued to gain momentum. He has composed a variety of traditional tunes but equally blues, jazz, Cajun and French musette have been notable influences in much of his other output with jazz and swing major components in his performance style. A renewed interest in piano playing and its inherent advantages as an instrument for composition and arrangement can be heard in some of his more recent compositions. In 2010 as Musical Director of the show, ‘Ceol na n-Imirce’, staged at the Millennium Forum in Derry, he had the freedom to create new compositions and songs and combine a latent interest in combining lyrics and melody .’ You Can Leave Right Now’ which has a Cajun/blues influence and ‘When I hold You In My Arms’, with words in English and French are two of the new songs which he has recorded and which originate from this show. In 2012 he received a commission from Legacy Trust Uk to compose the music and songs for a play written in Irish by the highly respected poet Nuala ni Dhomhnaill, one of Ireland’s leading writers. The play, ‘An Capaillín Spágach’ , was performed in Derry in May 2012 to coincide with the Olympic Torch celebrations in the city.
He has released two commercial recordings which include some of his compositions and songs respectively: ‘Tom Byrne with special guest Frankie Gavin’ and ‘The Tom Byrne Band featuring The Henry Girls’. He plays regularly in Inishowen and throughout Ireland and has recently played at festivals in Toronto, Romania, France, Uganda and Shetland.

Tom and Ian are delighted to be invited to play at this year’s Fiddle and Accordion Festival in Shetland.

Ian Smith Singer / Songwriter

"Ian Smith” Based in North West Donegal, has been touring and performing in Ireland, Scotland and all over Europe and the USA for the past 20 years, A unique guitarist, great singer and songwriter A real musicians musician. Over the years he has played with or supported many great Irish/Scottish artists and bands i.e. Christy Moore, Altan, Mary Black, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, Dolores Keane, Paul Brady, Capercaillie, etc, the list goes on and on. An Accomplished songwriter, he regularly visits Nashville, Austin, and New York where he co/writes and tours with various American Writers /Artists. Already with 2 critically acclaimed CD’s to his credit,[the self penned “Restless Heart” and the superb Trad CD “Keadue Bar”] He Has just released his 3rd CD “A Celtic Connection”
3 years in the making this eagerly awaited album features no less than 9 original songs among the 12 tracks. With 5 of the songs having definite Donegal stories to them along with a few Scottish themed songs, it has a real “Celtic Connection” and feel to it.

Featuring an amazing array of some of the finest musicians/singers from the world of Celtic/Folk/Trad, it should find its way into most people’s CD collections.
Recorded at Manus Lunny’s “Studio Na Mara” in Braade in West Donegal.

He’s been described by Tony Arata, Who wrote “The Dance “ for Garth Brooks as a “True Poet” and has also written with some of the finest songwriters in Nashville/New York and Austin Texas on his regular trips to the US, But for this CD he has concentrated on His “Roots”

“I spent the first half of my life in Ayrshire, Scotland, and the second half of my life [so far] in Co Donegal. The influence and significance of both have played a major part in making me who I am and what I do. The music and songs on this album are due in part to those influences and is my “Celtic Connection”. I hope it resonates with you.”

Not quite the end of the year, but I’m content recommending ‘A Celtic Connection’ as my album of the year. “Irish Music Magazine” “Trad” French folk roots Mag. Album of year nomination and in top albums of year. “Le Pueple Breton” Brittanny. Album of year recommendation.

"I've known Ian - both as a friend and a great musician - for a long time and have tremendous respect for him as a songwriter and singer. His new album, 'A Celtic Connection' really brings out the Donegal/Scottish influence in his writing and performance. He embraces the nature of the both with passion. I celebrate his achievement and hope that as many people as possible will also experience it. “Moya Brennan”


Wullie first started playing the accordion aged 10, influenced by his dad who has been a box player for over 40 years now. Being self-taught, he decided it was best to get Wullie a teacher who would teach him 'the right way'. Wullie went to Stuart McKeown for the best part of 10 years and he credits his musical achievements to Stuart for all his hard work over the years. He has a great passion for continental music as well as the obvious one for the traditional genre. Over the years he has entered the competitions at Inchyra (formerly Musselburgh) and Perth, winning quite a few trophies along the way. Music became a serious thing for him when he was about 14/15 as by that time he knew that he would like to make a living from performing and teaching. The gigs gradually picked up after Wullie left school aged 18 and from there he hasn’t looked back. Studying media and communications at college has been his 'full-time occupation' for the past couple of years whilst he has played at various functions at the weekends, as a soloist or with his band. As he graduate in June 2013 Wullie will depend more and more on music to keep him going.