2014 Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival
Visiting Artists to the 2014 Festival
Alistair McCulloch hails from Ayr and is one of the country’s best known fiddle teachers, composers and performers. Past winner of many fiddle championships, Alistair is fiddle instructor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has tutored many of the new generation of rising stars.
The Alistair McCulloch Trio featuring Aaron Jones of Old Blind Dogs, and former Capercaillie whistle wizard Marc Duff, regularly tours and Alistair is also a long standing member of the band Coila and the Iain Cathcart Scottish Dance Band. This year he has toured in Australia and New Zealand with famous American fiddler Liz Carroll and Australian fiddle champion Catherine Fraser and in the USA with guitarist Eamon Sefton. To date Alistair has performed in over 20 countries also including China, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Nigeria, Venezuela, Canada and throughout Europe. To date, Alistair has released three solo albums, most recently ‘Four Seasons in One Day’ – says the Scotsman “As the mountain of fiddle CDs rises even higher, this one can climb straight to the summit ridge”. His tunebook the ‘Alistair McCulloch Collection’ was recently reprinted and he is currently working on a new collection featuring a number of commissioned tunes.
Alistair has directed several fiddle groups and ensembles including the talented young group ‘Innovation’ and was formerly a soloist with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra. His playing style is driving and precise, described by the Living Tradition as “fresh, fiery and full of fun”.
Alistair is an enthusiastic and inspirational teacher and has recently taught at the Southern Hemisphere International School of Scottish Fiddling in New Zealand, the Swannanoa Gathering Celtic Week in North Carolina and Boston Harbor Fiddle School. He is delighted to be returning to Shetland.
Andy Kain and Leonard Brown
Andy now lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne. He is a fulltime music teacher (violin) and band leader, teaching in both England and Scotland. He also plays for the Charity Music in Hospitals. Andy is looking forward to playing at the Festival again.
Leonard Brown accompanying Andy this year is also a full time musician and is currently the all Scotland Accordion Champion 2014. Leonard studied music at Newcastle University and is about to head to Glasgow to start his teacher training qualification.
Bríd Harper is originally from Donegal and now living near Dungannon Co Tyrone. She has been hailed as one of the leading exponents of traditional fiddle playing of our time. She was Senior All Ireland Champion, Fiddler of Dooney and Oireachtas winner in 1988. This is her first visit to the Shetland Islands and will perform as a soloist at this Accordion & Fiddle Festival.
Christopher Maguire and Ronan Warnock
Chris has been recognised as one of Ireland's finest button accordion players and his individual traditional style has captivated many audiences across Ireland, England and America. Chris cites his grandfather as his primary influence to his musical development. He has been competing in the Senior Button accordion competition since 2008; over the years he has been placed second on three occasions and finally this year he took the gold medal! This is a historic event as Chris is the first- ever button accordion player to take the Senior All-Ireland button accordion trophy to the Ulster competition from an Ulster branch in fleadh history!
Ronan Warnock from Trilick, Co. Tyrone has quickly developed a reputation as one of Ireland's leading traditional piano players, both as a soloist and accompanist. He is a member of the Knockmore Ceili Band and has previously played with the Emerald Ceili Band. He holds many All- Ireland medals from the piano to the piano pccordion, and currently holds the 2010 Senior All- Ireland Title in accompaniment.
Christopher and Ronan have several Irish and international television and radio appearances to their credit, including ‘Geantraí’ and the B.B.C’s 'Blas Ceoil'. They appeared on 'Stair na mBannaí Céilí' which is a 4 part series as members of The Knockmore Ceili Band. This year the Knockmore Ceili Band featured 2nd in a recall for 1st place with the Murlogue Ceili Band at the All-Ireland Fleadh in Derry
This fantastic accordionist needs no introduction to Shetland. Described as “hugely talented and hilarious”, he is a master of the instrument and will keep any audience enthralled with his unique style, banter and mix of music from around the world.
Diane is no stranger to Shetland having played at the festival in 2009 and 2011 and visited on many other musical occasions. Diane is a tutor and Musical Director of the Orkney Traditional Music Project. This year she will be accompanied on piano by Margaret Scollay.
Gary Sutherland Scottish Dance Band
Gary Sutherland Ceilidh Band has been together for about 9 years and been fortunate to play in Shetland a few times. Gary is a twice Scottish Champion and with the band they have recorded 2 CDs and broadcast on Take The Floor. Gary is joined by brother Alan on Drums, Willie Johnstone on Fiddle, Brain Cruickshanks on Bass and two other Scottish Champions Craig Paton and John Burns on Keyboards and 2nd box. The band is looking forward immensely to visiting the Shetland Festival again.
Gordon Brown Trio
Gordon, who hails from Kelso, first went for music lessons at the age of 13 in Melrose at Clinkscales under the tuition of Bill Sharp, his father used to play the box so that is how he was introduced to it. His Mum and Dad used to help at dances at Kelso rugby club and Gordon got to play at half time when the band had their supper this is how he first met Issy when she was there playing with the Bill Stenhouse band. Gordon met his drummer Sandy in September of 1990 when the band for Gordon’s cousin’s wedding let them down and Gordon was asked to step in at short notice and with a practice a few days before Sandy and he had their first shot together and have been playing ever since. Marion Anderson composed a tune (Stichill Linn Polka) for the band when they celebrated playing together for 20 years. Gordon says he has no musical accolades he can mention, but he has been twice to Lowender Peran Celtic Festival in Perranporth Cornwell, he also was a support act to the Alexander Brothers at a local concert for charity and made a CD a few years back. Neither he nor Sandy have ever been on a plane before so this will be a first for both of them!
Gordon Shand Scottish Dance Band
Surely one of the top Scottish Dance Bands. The unique style and sound of Gordon’s 5 row button box is very popular in Shetland. Gordon and the band have featured in many broadcasts over the years and have visited Shetland on several occasions.
John Burns and Ali Turner
John Burns, from Kilsyth, has been at the festival several times. A former All Scotland Accordion Champion. Playing with The Burns Brothers Ceilidh Band has done several BBC Take The Floor broadcasts. As well as playing 2nd accordion with Niall Kirkatrick’s SDB and a recent TV appearance with Deoch n Dorus.
Accompanying John, on guitar, is Ali Turner. This is his first visit to the festival. From Allness but now living in Glasgow. Ali has a BA in applied music from Strathclyde University. Played guitar with folk band Muran. And now playing with his new band, Neusa. Ali also played bagpipes for 3 years with grade 1 pipe band Torphichen And Bathgate having previously been pipe major with the Ross and Cromarty pipes and drums school.
John Daly and Josephine Keegan
John was born near Mallow, Co. Cork. He moved to work in Cavan in 1986 where he spent 11 years before moving to Chicago where he lived until 2008 when he returned to where he currently lives in Co. Leitrim. He learned for a short while from Limerick music teacher Sean O’Carroll (1920 - 1997) in the mid-70’s. Apart from O’Carroll, his early influences were Kerry fiddle player Johnny Cronin and the legendary Sean McGuire. Primarily through Cronin, John soon became interested in the playing of Andy McGann from New York, as well as the Longford fiddle player Paddy Reynolds who spent over 50 years in New York. It was during his time in the U.S. that John really developed an interest in the fiddle music of South Sligo and the legacies of many such as Martin Wynne, Vincent Harrisson, James (Lad) O’Beirne as well as the styles and influences of contempoaries such as Tony DeMarco, Seamus Connolly and Brian Conway.
Josephine Keegan was born of Irish parents in Dundee, Scotland in 1935 and the family moved to South Armagh when she was 4. Josephine studied classical music on violin and piano as well as playing traditional music and won many prizes at competitions throughout Ireland. She won a gold medal at the Feis Ceoil in Dublin in the early 1950’s and won the gold medal at the All-Ireland Fiddle Championship at the Oireachtas in 1955. There followed frequent broadcasts, radio and television, from RTE, BBC and UTV as well as five albums for Outlet Records in the early 1970. Since then Joesphine has published 4 volumes of her own compositions, The Keegan Tunes (pub. 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2012) as well as a collection of tunes titled ‘A Drop in the Ocean’ (pub. 2004). Some of her recent recordings include The Nightingale and lesser spotted tunes (solo piano 2005), A few tunes now and then (self accompanied 2006) and Fairy Bridges (fiddle with piano accompaniment by Kathleen Gavin 2009).
Throughout an accomplished career in music, Josephine has received numerous prestigious awards including a special award in 2003 from Boston College in appreciation of her life-long dedication to Irish music and ‘her invaluable contribution to Irish Cultural preservation’ In 2005 she receieved Tg4’s coveted Gradam Cheoil for her work as a composer. Josephine’s life in Irish music was also presented on the TG4 'Sé mo laoch series aired in February of 2013.
Popular within the traditional dance scene in Orkney, this 5 piece, family Ceilidh band bring a special lilt to their repertoire of traditional Orkney, Scottish, Irish and self-penned tunes. Adopting the Norse word for Kirkwall as their band name, the Kirkjuvagr Ceilidh Band have recently performed at the Highland Accordion and Fiddle Club Inverness and the Accordion and Fiddle Club in Wick, to very high acclaim.
Lomond Ceilidh Band
The band was formed in 1990 and over the years has become very popular for weddings, festivals and general Ceilidhs around the country. They visit Shetland every year for Up Helly Aa and have done since 2001 and have broadcasted regularly for the BBC programme 'Take the Floor' since 1998. They have a new line up this year using both Lesley Thompson and Gemma Donald on fiddle, both excellent solo players in their own right. The band is augmented by Steven Carcary on second accordion and Addie Harper on electric guitar. The two full time members of the band being Callum Wallace on drums and Alan Small on lead accordion and midi which forms the six piece line up for this year's festival.
Martainn Skene and Sileas Sinclair
Lochaber is home for Màrtainn, where the inevitable influence from the vibrant local music scene soon took its intoxicating effect. His music is focused on the cèilidh dance music of the West Coast, particularly pipe tunes and Gaelic songs, although since basing himself in Glasgow, Màrtainn has been involved with many events and classes run by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, around Scotland and abroad. This aside, he describes his style as ‘as West Coast as a salt herring’. He has competed successfully at Lochaber Music Festival and the Royal National Mòd and has been in increasing demand with the Màrtainn Skene Dance Band for cèilidh and country dances.
Sileas is from Connel, near Oban in the wilds of Argyll, Sileas has followed her dad ‘s footsteps into the traditional music scene, Neil Sinclair was a member of Colin Campbell’s Highland Band in the 60s and 70s and still has his own band today. Playing both accordion and piano and being brought up in the lively West Coast cèilidh dance culture, Sileas has also been very much influenced by the native Gaelic scene around her. Conducting the Oban Gaelic Choir, running the Oban High School Traditional School of Music, teaching music privately and playing with her own cèilidh band Drams Allowed, life is good and very busy not to mention having the privilege to play with great traditional artists such as Archie MacAllister, Rachel Walker, Skipinnish and others regularly.
Matthew MacLennan Trio
Recording on Take the Floor since 2009. Been attending the festival since 2004. Last attended festival with Nicky McMichan's band 2013. Matthew now lives in Edinburgh and has been playing for Scottish Country Dancing, Ceilidh Dancing, Accordion and Fiddle Clubs, Weddings and Corporate events all over the country. He’s delighted to be back playing at his 10th festival.
Iain Anderson is no stranger to Shetland as he has performed with different groups and as a soloist. Iain lives in Grangemouth and is in demand as a soloist and band fiddler with different bands across Scotland. He has played numerous times on Take the Floor with different bands.
Neil MacGregor a native of Thurso is up again to Shetland after appearing in 2013 with Graeme Mackay. He plays drums with lots of different bands and also is a dab hand at the accordion.
Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha Trio
Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha is from Conamara in the West of Ireland. She grew up in a musical family and learned a lot of her music from her father Michael Costello and from listening to lots of different musicians on Lps and tape recordings. She plays whistle and flute and has travelled to music festivals in Germany, France, the United States and England over the years. She works as Head of Music with RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta and presents and produces Irish Traditional Music programmes “Béal Maidine” and “Ceol Binn ó na Beanna” with that station. She has just recorded her first solo album “Draíocht na Feadóige” which is published on the Cló Iar-Chonnacht label (CICD197)
Meaití Jó Shéamuis Ó Fátharta - piper and flute player and am award winning sean-nós singer who grew up in worked with Raidió na Gaeltachta as broadcaster since it's founding in 1972 until 2009.
& Tommy Mellett, accordion player from Conamara who lived for years in America but is now settled back in his native Camus.
Raymond Chuchuk Scottish Dance Band
The Raymond Chuchuk Scottish Dance Band were formed in June 2012 to appear in Eden Court Theatre, Inverness in August of that year to raise funds for Highland Hospice. Behind this was well known Pianist and Musical Producer Allen Ross Shepherd. Whilst listening to Raymond playing ‘LIVE’ on popular radio station MFR, Allen contacted him with the proposition of getting together some of Scotland’s top musicians to play as a band. Such was the success of the show that the band became very good friends instantly and decided to work together and begin performing at venues. Raymond is also an accomplished solo accordionist & vocalist who can perform a variety of songs from all eras and has also played in Hotels and Musical venues throughout Scotland for many years and has even recorded several ‘Sequence Dancing’ CDs. The Band consists of Raymond Chuchuk - Lead Accordion, Gillian Stevenson - Fiddle, Brian Forrest - 2nd Accordion, Ena Brian – Piano and Ian Anderson – Drums.
Their first album ‘Raising The Bar’ was released in July 2013 and is proving a firm favourite in the traditional scene and even received a final place in the Box and Fiddle’s BAAFI Award Nominations this year.
Roddy Matthews, Gary Forrest and Chris Newman
These lads are well known in Shetland having all played here on many occasions before.
Chris Newman is a world famous guitarist having played with many great artistes including Stéphane Grappelli, Phil and Aly and Violet Tulloch. A former member of ‘Boys of the Lough’, ‘Kathryn Tickell Band’ and other illustrious bands, he is currently head tutor of guitar at Newcastle University Folk Degree Course.
Gary Forrest was one of the youngest Scottish Champions ever on the accordion and one of the youngest to have a broadcast on ‘Take the Floor’. He currently runs two extremely busy bands, ‘The Reely Rockin’ Ceilidh Band’, which has recently been appointed to play for Scottish Rugby Union and the Scottish Parliament at prestigious events and he was ‘top of the bill’ last year in Blackpool for St Patrick’s Day – playing to thousands that weekend. His fast and brilliant style is admired worldwide.
Roddy Matthews specialises in Border/Northumbrian fiddle music and always brings us something fresh and different to the festival. He has recently been responsible for the formation of the charity ‘The Coquetdale Music Trust Ltd’ to help preserve the music of Northumberland and the Borders.
Ron Jappy and Barbara Anderson
A Graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Ron has always had a passion for performing and teaching music. Over the years he has entertained a number of high profile individuals including; Sir Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Karen Gillan, Sir Patrick Stewart, Pippa Middleton & Ewan McGregor to name but a few, as well as worldwide performances in; America, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Nigeria. Ron has competed at the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championships on a number of occasions as well as the Oban Fiddle Masters. A full time musician based in Glasgow, Ron is currently pursuing a number of musical projects and is making a name for himself in the folk and traditional music scene.
Barbara Anderson, from Huntly in Abderdeenshire first met Ron through their time in the Strathspey Fiddlers. After performing together for a number of years, they subsequently formed Cruachan ceilidh band and still gig regularly to this day. Having also played performed at the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championships & Oban, Barbara is a very accomplished fiddle player and tutor in her own right. She is delighted to be asked to play piano for Ron at the festival this year.
Roya MacLean and Laura Wilkie
Roya and Laura met working for Feis Rois in their teens and have been great friends since. They have always done the odd gig together with many bands in the past but are currently busy as a duo. Roya, based in Muir of Ord, has released two solo albums ‘Out of the Shadows’ and ‘Blackwater (an t-alltan dubh)’. She is currently a self-employed musician playing all over Scotland, a presenter on Moray Firth Radio, and she teaches for Feis Rois holding many classes and workshops. Laura is based in Glasgow and is also a self-employed musician and probably best known for her work with Rachel Sermanni and Fat Suit. She travels to the Highlands for many gigs with Roya and is involved with music projects in Glasgow. They are both really looking forward to coming up to Shetland for lots of tunes!
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.
Susan MacFadyen Scottish Dance Band
The band was formed in 2004 after being asked to perform as guest artists at their local Accordion & Fiddle Club. Since then the band has gone on to perform at many other clubs, festivals & functions throughout the country. The band has performed on BBC Radio Scotland's "Take The Floor" Programme on 6 occassions since 2007. The nucleus of the band is 2 sisters, Susan who plays accordion and Shona who plays fiddle. They will be joined by Willie Scott on 2nd Accordion, Ewan Galloway on Piano, Suzanne Croy on Double Bass and Nicky McMichan on drums.
Susie Simpson Trio
Susie Simpson – Susie started playing accordion at the age of 15, after playing clarinet for many years in school. She formed the Braehead Band in Caithness before moving to Inverness 15 years ago, where she now performs as a soloist or as part of her Scottish Dance Band. Her 5 piece band has just recently recorded their first album. She is joined at the festival by 2 members of her band – Gillian Stephenson and Jock Fraser. This is her first time to Shetland Festival.
Gillian Stephenson – Gillian started playing fiddle when she was 10 years old. She played in various school groups and orchestras and became a founder member of a school Scottish dance band under the brilliant guidance of Ali McGregor who was the lead accordion player with the Tain Scottish Dance Band. Gillian attended the very first Feis Rois residential week in Ullapool in 1986 as a pupil and later went on to become a supervisor and tutor. She has been a member of various Scottish Dance Bands over the years including The Tain Scottish Dance Band, and is currently playing with several bands including the Jock Fraser Dance Band, the Susie Simpson Dance Band, the Raymond Chuchuk Dance Band, and Rhythm n Reel, a Celtic Rock Band who she joined in 2004.
Ian “Jock” Fraser – Jock is a multi-talented entertainer from Inverness. He plays accordion, piano and is very well known for his cabaret acts and impersonations of well known Scottish entertainers. Jock has had his own Scottish Dance Band for many years, but on this occasion will be playing piano with the Susie Simpson Trio. Jock was guest artist at the Shetland Festival in 1992 with his own band.
Band was formed in the early ‘80s by students from the Stevenson College Musical Instrument Technology Department and named after the industrial estate beside the college.
West Telferton Caledonian Dance Band
Lead accordion Ricky Ross (Scottish Champion in 1980 and 1981) joined the band in 1985 and we did our first broadcast shortly after that. Second accordionist Karen Higgins (winner of Scottish Country Dance Band at Perth 1985) joined the band for our second broadcast. We have been lucky enough to have the same line up since with a few tweaks here and there. We are joined on this trip by guest pianist Issy Hodgson and middle son Douglas Knight on drums.
We have done gigs the length and breadth of Britain and have been resident in the Ro-Ro terminal at Up Helly Aa for almost 20 years.
1986 the band won both Trio and Band sections at Musselburgh, Oban and Perth Festivals. They were nominated (but didn’t win) for CD of the year (Industrial Strength) in the 2004 BAAFIs.
Band Leader Andrew Knight was the recipient of the NAAFC Honour in 2009.