2015 Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival
Alan Crookston Scottish Dance Band
The band has been together as The Alan Crookston SDB for 2 years. Alan along with Alan Irvine and Iain Anderson were all members of The Reel Thing Ceilidh Band and played at the festival a few times previously. Alan is delighted to be joined by good friends and fellow band members Gary Sutherland and Liam Stewart. Going from strength to strength the band already has 2 Take the Floor broadcasts under their belts.
Callum Cruickshank Trio
From Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire this is accordionist Callum’s debut at the Festival. Accompanying him on piano is Craig Paton and on drums Alan Sutherland both having previously been to festival in different bands on several occasions.
Colin Donaldson Trio
The Colin Donaldson Scottish Dance Band feature regularly on the BBC’s ‘Take the Floor’ programme and continue to be in demand for old time dances, weddings and other private functions. Colin has brought a trio to this year’s festival together with Louise Hay McBain on fiddle and pipes and Jimmy Cassidy on keyboards.
Colin studied traditional and classical accordion at John Huband’s celebrated music school and together with his brother Gary appeared many times on television programmes such as Thingummyjig and Welcome to the Ceilidh.
Louise studied violin and pipes at the RSAMD in Glasgow and was one of the first graduates. She played with the Vale of Atholl Grade 1 pipe band and has also had many successes in the solo piping competition scene.
Jimmy will be familiar to most festival goers as a champion accordionist but is acclaimed as a top class all round musician and is recognised as a fine arranger, producer and musical director and continues to be in much demand as an adjudicator on the competition scene.
Dermot Byrne & Floraine Blancke
Dermot is one of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians having been awarded the Irish Television station, TG4’s Traditional Musician of the Year 2013. He hails from Buncrana in the Inishowen peninsula, the most northerly part of Donegal, and has played accordion since a very young age, having learned from his father Tomás O\’Beirn, who comes from Teileann area of South West Donegal, and is an enthusiastic promoter of the tradition. Dermot had the good fortune to meet all the greats of Donegal music, including Johnny Doherty, Con Cassidy and Tommy Peoples, Danny Meehan and many more, and they made a great impact on the young Dermot, who went on to develop a unique style. His seemingly effortless playing, combined with great subtlety, and a faultless ear, makes him one of the great accordion players of his generation. As well as his mastery of the Donegal style and repertoire, Dermot can turn with ease to other styles and traditions such as French musette, or South American choro music. He guested on two Altan recordings “The Red Crow” and “Island Angel” and was a member of the band from 1994 until 2013. Dermot has guested on collaborations with many great musicians including Seamus and Manus McGuire, Sharon Shannon, Frankie Gavin, Pierre Schryer, Tim O\’Brien , The Stunning, Salsa Celtica and the late jazz violinist, Stephane Grappelli. His eponymous solo recording,which he has reissued recently, received great critical acclaim.
Born in Paris, France, Floriane Blancke is a talented harpist, fiddler, pianist and vocalist who has been embraced into Irish Traditional music circles over the past numbers of years. The grand-daughter of Jazz musician Stanislas Suranyi, her music has been greatly influenced by this native Hungarian Gypsy style, and of her grand-mother Marthe Blancke, who was a classical French violonist. Floriane also studied classical music for 10 years in the conservatoire of Bordeaux before spending a few years studying Jazz and World music in the C.I.A.M Jazz School. After moving to Ireland from France to pursue a full-time career in Traditional Music in 2006. Foriane is now recognised as a skilled harpist and has performed with luminaries such as Sharon Shannon, Brid Harper, Steve Cooney, Paddy Keenan, Pierre Schryer, Seamus Begley, Tim Edey, …While for the most part, Floriane collaborations are traditional, she has shown her versatility in sharing the stage with contemporary artists such as Shane Mc Gowan of the Pogues and the world renowned vocalist Patti Smith.
Ewan Galloway Trio
Ewan has now been playing for just over 10 years going from strength to strength and playing music that people enjoy listening and dancing to. Returning to Shetland he is very excited to be joined by good friends Kyle Innes and Karen Higgins for a good ole tune and sing along.
George Balfour from Friockheim by Arbroath first visited Shetland in October 2007 and returned as a guest artiste in 2008. George is a self-taught 3 row player and ‘non-reader of the dots’. He is a past winner of the Blairgowrie Senior Scottish Open and twice bronze medal winner of the Perth Senior Scottish Open.George, on this visit, is accompanied on the keyboard by Dr Graham Berry ‘no stranger to these islands’.
Graham Mackenzie and Alison Mackenzie
Graham is from Inverness and began playing the violin at the age of six. In 2013, he graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and is currently studying for a Masters in Scottish Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Prior to studying at the RNCM, Graham was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain that played at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in 2008. He also led the Highland Regional Youth Orchestra for two years and was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. In 2007, Graham was the inaugural winner of the Highland Young Musician of the Year.
Traditional music has been one of Graham’s main interests from an early age. He was twice a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, as well as being a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, which was broadcasted live on Radio Scotland and televised for BBC Alba. Along with winning Scottish Championships at junior and senior level, Graham has also won the Invitational Masters Competition in Oban as part of the Highlands and Islands Music and Dance Festival and was a runner-up in the prestigious Glenfiddich Fiddle Championships held in Blair Castle. Most recently, he was commissioned by Celtic Connections 2015 to write 'Crossing Borders', a suite of music for a ten piece ensemble for the New Voices series as well as perform in the opening night of the festival, an orchestration of Martyn Bennett's album 'Grit'. Graham has also performed with folk septet, The Old Dance School as part of their Scottish tour, The Undivided, a folk/jazz fusion project fronted by Mike McGoldrick and Neil Yates during Celtic Connections 2014 and with Phil Cunningham, Aly Bain and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in the Royal Glasgow Concert Hall. Since 2012, he has performed on several occasions throughout Europe with French Baroque ensemble, “Les Musiciens de Saint Julien”. With Mike McGoldrick, Graham recorded the music for the ‘Men at Lunch’ documentary which won an Irish Film and Television Award in 2013.
As a soloist, Graham has appeared at many folk festivals including the Fiddle Festival in Edinburgh, Celtic Connections in Glasgow; where he was the youngest winner of a Danny Kyle Award in 2004, the Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival and Blas, an annual festival held in the North of Scotland. He has had the privilege of working and playing alongside some of the folk scenes top musicians including Aidan O’Rourke, Chris Stout, John Doyle, Julie Fowlis and Phil Cunningham.
Alison Mackenzie was Principal Teacher of Music at Culloden Academy, Inverness for 33 years. During this time she actively promoted traditional music forming several Ceilidh Bands. With the bands she recorded to commercial CDs with endorsements from Phil Cunningham and Julie Fowlis. The bands made successful visits to Donegal, Ireland as well as Cape Breton, Canada and appeared at various festivals throughout the North of Scotland.
Her early years were spent in Orkney where she was influenced by her Great Uncle, Jock Linklater a well known Orkney Fiddler and band leader and it's there she began to play piano and accordion. Alison continues to promote traditional music having now formed two new groups.
She has accompanied many soloists but mainly her two sons Graham and Robbie winning numerous solo and group trophies throughout Scotland and also the Celtic Small Group at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen.
Ian Robertson accompanied by Angela Young
Ian Robertson lives in the South of England and is a familiar face on the Scottish Dance circuit. Equally at home on fiddle and accordion, Ian is busy playing for dances and weddings across the South of England and beyond. A finalist in the 2011 Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship, Ian Robertson has been a regular visitor to Festival over many years. His trio Sound Company were guests a number of times and Ian’s first visit as a solo fiddler was in 2008. He is accompanied again this year by Angela Young who played piano regularly with Ian when she was living and working in London.
Kate, Amy & Gear McNamara
Making a return visit having previously played here in 2012, the McNamaras are a musical family from Tulla, East Clare in the west of Ireland, playing in the rare traditional East Clare Style. Kate, who appeared in the 2009 festival with Seamus Bugler, is a well known concertina player in the area having travelled and taught at festivals world-wide. Her sister, Amy McNamara, an accomplished fiddle player has been playing in groups and bands in the area for years and has travelled to Shetland and Norway in recent years as part of several musical exchanges. Her brother, Gearoid McNamara, a tinwhistle and button accordion player has travelled with Amy on these exchanges and is well known in County Clare for his abilities on both instruments.
Knerten & Co
Knerten & Co is a Norwegian folk music band with five musicians with long and varied backgrounds from other bands. The band was formed in 2008 years ago and quickly distinguished themselves positively in several festivals in Norway and Sweden. They have among other things won 3rd place at Storefjell (a big competition for Norwegian folk music bands).
The band plays traditional Norwegian folk music, but with their innovative way of playing they have developed quite a unique style. All songs are written by Eddy “Knerten” Lyshaug, and the arrangements are made by the band.
Knerten & Co is known for having a lot of humour and energy on stage, and has great audience appeal. Some feedback they have received includes “Thank you for existing”, “Folk music needs you to survive”, “Fantastic interaction” and “It's great to see so much energy and enjoyment by Knerten”.
Kristan Harvey & Megan Henderson
Kristan Harvey and Megan Henderson have been performing together since meeting at the RCS (formerly RSAMD) in Glasgow, where they graduated in 2011. In that same year, they made their first appearance as a duo at Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival, and have been looking forward to a return visit ever since!
Lochaber born multi-instrumentalist Megan is currently the singer and fiddle player in award winning Scottish Folk band Breabach, as well as renowned Latin-Scottish inspired big band, Salsa Celtica. Aside from touring the world under these guises, and with various other lineups, she also teaches regularly as part of the Feisean movement and is a respected musician in her own right, receiving a nomination as ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards in 2012. She will be joining Kristan on piano at this year’s festival.
Kristan is from Birsay in Orkney, but has been based in Glasgow for the past few years. She began playing fiddle when she was eight and is now a member of various lineups including Blazin’ Fiddles, Fara and with singer Robyn Stapleton. Since being awarded the title of BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year in 2011, Kristan has enjoyed performing at concerts and festivals throughout the UK and further afield, both in her own right and with bands such as Orkney’s ‘The Gathering’, The Paul McKenna Band, The Rua MacMillan Big Band and many more.
Leonard Brown & Maggie Adamson
Leonard is looking forward to making his third visit to the festival in as many years. The winner of the All Scotland Accordion Championship in 2012 in Perth, he graduated from Newcastle University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Classical music in the same year. He has since been a full time working musician and has toured extensively in the UK, Ireland and Spain.
Maggie recently graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow and has been a regular at the festival for many years now. Maggie has won numerous prestigious competitions over the years, most notably, twice winner of the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship and four times Oban Masters Fiddle Champion. She has toured and travelled across Europe in the last 12 months teaming up with Donnie Munro and various Scottish Dance Bands.
Leonard and Maggie will be playing a selection of Scottish, Irish and North American tunes and the latest CD and debut DVD which features both Leonard and Maggie will be available to purchase during the festival weekend.
Lindsay Weir Scottish Dance Band
Originally from the Black Isle, just north of Inverness, Lindsay has been steeped in the traditions of Scotland all her life. She has been playing the accordion since the age of six. Her love of all things Scottish is as strong as ever and there is nothing she likes better than playing with the band throughout Scotland and beyond. Initially popular for old-time and ceilidh dancing, the band are also now in demand for Scottish country dancing throughout the UK. Lindsay considers herself fortunate to have been consistently busy with band work for over 20 years and for having the opportunity to regularly record band sessions for BBC Radio Scotland;perform as guest artiste at the vast majority of Accordion and Fiddle clubs in Scotland, several on multiple occasions;record 4 commercial albums, including one for the RSCDS.
Longstanding band members Colin Garvin (piano) and Gordon Young (drums) were joined by John Sinton (bass) in 2007. In 2013 Gemma Donald (fiddle) joined, bringing an exciting new dynamic to the band. Lindsay has a particular love of pipe music and gaelic airs so is delighted to have Oban’s Craig MacFadyen (2nd accordion) completing the 6-piece line up for this trip to Shetland.
Taking the band back to Shetland and a trip to Vancouver are key musical highlights for Lindsay in 2015.
Martin Donohoe Trio
A wealth of rare music with Fiddler Éamon McGivney from Co Longford, now living in Clare, Martin Donohoe BC Button Accordion player from Cavan Town, Zoran Donohoe joining them on Concertina and Owen Tierney, Orkney Guitarist.
The Fiddle & Box lads have played and taught all over the world in solo and in group settings, both have also been major interpreters of traditional music. They enjoy the exchange of energy between instruments and know how to get the crowd going in performance.
They will perform music from Longford and Cavan sourced from manuscripts of the 1840s to modern players. Éamon is making his first visit to Shetland and has been involved in The Willlie Clancy School Clare since 1970s. He recorded an album ‘‘The Drôle’’ with Peadar O’Riada and John Kelly and a solo Fiddle album in 2014
Paul Capaldi & Chris Upton
A “weel Kent” face from the Borders, Paul specialises in Continental music including several own compositions. Former pupil, Chris Upton on piano is currently at the University of Edinburgh where he is doing his MA History course.
Robert Whitehead & Danelaw Dance Band
Born and bred in the beautiful border county of Northumberland, Robert has been playing the piano accordion since his schooldays and although competent in all musical styles he specialises in Scottish Country Dance Music. His appearances at Shetland and other major festivals, accordion clubs and radio broadcasts are testimony to the respect he has earned in the business.
The line-up for the festival will be Robert Whitehead, lead accordion; Graeme Whitehead, 2nd Accordion; Andy Kain, Fiddle; Alan Brown, Keyboard and Alasdair MacLeod, Bass.
Sarah was born and raised in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, where she started the fiddle at the age of 7. Always having played both classical and Celtic styles, she continued on to graduate from the RSAMD (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) in Glasgow, with B.A (honours) in Musical Studies and Post Graduate Diploma of Music in performance. Having played regularly with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, she was given the opportunity to tour Austria, Croatia and Slovakia with them in 2002. As well as orchestral work, chamber music such as string orchestras and quartets always played a large part in her performance career. Since then, Sarah focused mainly on Celtic fiddle and has been part of a collaboration from New Zealand called Pacific Curls. This female trio is a fusion of Pacific, Maori and Celtic compositions, as well as traditional workshops in instrumentation and dance. Their distinct musical style has taken them on an amazing international journey throughout New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Asia, Europe and UK performing at folk/world festivals and theatres; these include WOMAD UK 2011, WOMAD NZ 2010, City of London festival 2011, Borneo Rainforest World Music Festival, Vancouver folk fest, Vancouver island folk fest, Winnipeg folk fest, as well as Ulsan Jazz fest (Sth Korea). Also the privilege of a performance appearing in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Last year Pacific Curls were invited to tour the highlands and islands as part of the international celebrations of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 and then on to an extensive UK tour working with the RATF (Rural Arts Touring Forum). Recently Sarah has performed regularly with Frank Thomson and his Scottish dance band, also appearing on Take the Floor in 2014 and 2015. And appearing in concerts and festivals such as Frieda Morrisons Deeside festival, The Harvest folk fest, the Trad fest in Edinburgh and Don MacLeans annual festival in Dunkeld Perthshire, Perthamber fest. Now, being Mum to her wee lad Callum George and lass Eva has brought Sarah back to her homelands where she is excited to get back into the tradition of folk and contemporary Scottish repertoire! Her spare time is also taken up by teaching fiddle which has always been an interest throughout her career.
Scott Band Scottish Dance Band
The current band got together about 3 years ago to audition for BBC Radio Scotland’s “Take the Floor”, they successfully passed their audition and their debut broadcast was aired in November 2013 followed by a 2nd in March of this year. The band consists of; Scott Band from Newtyle on Lead Accordion (Piano accordion & Shand Morino, Not at the same time though!), Gillian Ramsay from Kirriemuir on Fiddle, Steven Carcary on 2nd Accordion from Bridge of Earn, Suzanne Croy on Double Bass from Blairingone and the band are delighted to welcome Isobelle Hodgson on Piano from Prestonpans and Kevin Milne on Drums from Forfar who are guesting with the band for the festival. The band prefer the more older fashioned style with influences coming from the likes of Ian Holmes, Ian Powrie, Jimmy Blue & Kenny Thomson to name but a few!
Stuart Cameron Scottish Dance Band
Originally from Fort William, Stuart now lives in Glasgow where he works as Secondary School music teacher. He is a former graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is best known as the accordionist in the popular 3 piece ceilidh band “Deoch n Dorus”, who won the BBC Alba Dance Band of the Year award in 2013. Hailing from the west coast he is a big enthusiast of playing pipe music on the accordion. He has performed on a number of broadcasts for “Take the Floor” and also plays piano with the Niall Kirkpatrick and Susan MacFadyen Scottish Dance Band.
He is no stranger to the festival, having performed as a guest artiste and with other dance bands over the years. This year he brings his own Scottish Dance Band with the following line up: Marie Fielding – Fiddle, John Burns – 2nd Accordion, Tom Orr – Keyboard & Findlay Robertson – Drums
Susie Simpson Scottish Dance Band
Susie originally from Caithness, now lives in Inverness, where she performs as a soloist, or as part of her Scottish Dance band. She performed as a trio at last year’s Festival, her first trip to the Festival, accompanied by Gillian Stevenson on fiddle and Jock Fraser from Inverness. She returns this year with her full band, joined by Heather Donaldson on drums and Ena Brian on piano.
Tara Breen & Cillian King
Tara Breen, a highly talented multi-instrumentalist from Co. Clare, started playing the flute at the tender age of six, and the fiddle at the age of seven. She has achieved All-Ireland titles on fiddle in every age category over the years, culminating with the All-Ireland Senior Fiddle Title in 2012. Tara is also an All-Ireland winner on the flute and saxophone. In 2006 Tara won the coveted ‘Fiddler of Dooney’ competition, and in 2009 she added the prestigious ‘Michael Coleman Fiddle Competition’ to her list of accolades. In 2011 Tara won the senior Oireachtas fiddle title, and also in 2011, Tara was chosen to play at Dublin Castle for the Queen of England during her State visit to Ireland.She has played fiddle with such luminaries as Frankie Gavin and Dezi Donnelly over the years, and has played with various groups all over the world including America, China, India, Philippines and most European countries. Tara is a member of the Awbeg Céilí Band who won the All-Ireland Senior Céilí Band competition in 2013. She was selected by Donal Lunny for the T.V. series, ‘Lorg Lunny’, which culminated in the band Ciorras, and from there went on to join the Galician piper Carlos Núñez, with whom she continues to play on a regular basis throughout Europe. In 2014 and 2015 Tara joined the Chieftains for their North American tour, and currently plays with them at various venues both at home and abroad. Tara is very much in demand as a music teacher and has also taught at numerous music festivals both at home and abroad. She achieved her Dip. ABRSM in 2007 in classical flute, and also qualified as a Traditional Irish Music teacher with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, achieving her TTCT in 2011. She attended the National University of Ireland, Cork, graduating in 2011 with a BA in Music and Arts, and in 2012 graduated with a B Mus. Degree.
Limerick native Cillian King has been playing music from the age of 6 and is currently one of the most in demand instrumentalists/singers in Ireland today. At 15 he toured with the Irish Harp Orchestra as a guest soloist on their winter German tour which included performances at philharmonics in Munich, Berlin and Cologne. Now 23, he has toured extensively throughout Ireland, Europe and the US performing at internationally acclaimed festivals and has shared with the stage with the likes of Donal Lunny, Mícheál Ó'Suilleabháin and John Spillane. With a background in Irish traditional music on the concertina and banjo, his first commercial release came at 18 as founding member of the band Éalú. The album received critical acclaim with Kings compositions featuring heavily on the album. Cillian regularly tutors at music festivals and summer camps both in Ireland and abroad and the self-taught guitarist/pianist made his debut as a singer songwriter in 2014. His EP entitled 'Could Be Kings' was hailed as ''incredibly well produced with well crafted songs'' (Dublin Concerts) and upon its release toured Ireland extensively with Limerick folk-rockers Hermitage Green. This debut as a songsmith earned him a recent nominationfor 'Best Male Solo Act' at the Pure M Awards 2015 alongside the likes of Duke Special, Paddy Casey and Mundy. Since completing his musical studies at the University of Limerick, Cillian has joined Pádraig Rynne's 'Notify' as lead guitarist/vocalist as they blend ambient electronica with original world and Irish melodies. They released their debut album in 2013 which has been described as ''1980's funk intersects with freewheeling improv to often startling effect with the concertina proving its mettle as an able dealer in a world where groove isking'' (Irish Times). Now based in Dublin, Cillian continues to be in high demand, performing and composing regularly.
The George Rennie Trio
The George Rennie Trio have been playing as a band for 8 years. Their repertoire consists of Traditional Scottish/Irish, Continental and sequence dance music. Graham Sherrit and Bill Ewan are well known musicians in the Scottish Dance music scene. George has played accordion of over 30 years and in many parts of Scotland.