2016 Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival
Alasdair Macleod Scottish Ceilidh Band
Alasdair Macleod started playing the Accordion at the age of 7, in between his other love of playing football, being surrounded with music in the house with his older brother Donald who also plays Accordion and leads his own band. He was approached to join Colin Dewar’s band at the age of 17, and very quickly gelled into a style of 2nd box playing which now sees him in demand as one of the top 2nd box players in the business. Inspired by the fabulous Jack Delaney who was a great help to him over the years with chord arrangements and putting sets together.
He still plays in Colin's band to this day some 19 years later, with something like 35 BBC Take The Floor recordings, 22 albums recorded, and, 7 years ago, decided to audition for the BBC and passed, now with 5 BBC broadcasts under his belt.
Alasdair has a great ear for the music and his style he applies with the band is very much more directed at good, well known tunes played with a nice steady swing.
Alasdair is no stranger to the Shetland Accordion & Fiddle Festival having made many visits with various bands, did a solo spot in his own right 6 years ago, but this year it's the full band appearing which he's really looking forward to and I'm certain he will have plenty two-steps prepared!
Archie McAllister & Sileas Sinclair
Archie has been playing the fiddle for over 30 years and has now been professional for 22 years. During this time he has played with many of the top musicians in the folk and Scottish Dance Band scenes; including Ross Kennedy, Skipinnish and The Jura Ceilidh Band. In 2004 he was nominated for best musician at the annual Trad awards. Presently Archie is playing with his own band as well as the Kinloch Ceilidh band and continues to work as a session musician on a wide variety of different albums. He now passes on his skills and knowledge through the teaching of youngsters in his local area.
Åtgaum – the name meaning attention - is a five piece band from the north-western coast of Norway, playing a mixture of traditional folk and dance music mostly from their own area, arranged by the band and played in their own distinctive lively style, which the audience seems to appreciate.
The band has been performing at competitions and festivals in their own region and beyond in Norway, topping the list as gold medallists in the 2015 Norwegian accordion championship. They have also been performing at festivals in Sweden and Denmark.
Åtgaum is a new band to the Shetland audience, but the members have all been around the trad music scene in Norway for many years in various bands and as solo performers.
Vegard Hansen (accordion) and Reidar Dahle (guitar) are no strangers to the festival (Stri Törn and Knerten & Co) and they are joined by Elin Dyrkorn (fiddle), Kristina Farstad Bjørdal (2nd accordion) and Bernt Hansen (double bass), who all visit Shetland for the first time.
Hopefully, Åtgaum will get some positive attention when they visit Shetland in October.
Craig McFadyen Trio
Craig is originally from Oban on the West coast of Scotland and is delighted to be invited back to perform at the festival. His playing is very much based on the traditional Scottish Dance Band style with his influences being Bobby MacLeod and Iain MacPhail to name but two. Being from the West coast, Craig has a great love of pipe music and Gaelic Waltzes which are sure to be included somewhere in the programme! This year, Craig is fortunate to be accompanied by two of the country’s most successful Dance Band leaders, his father Hector McFadyen on second accordion and Matthew MacLennan on piano. This will be Hector’s first time at the festival. Matthew has performed with his own band and other artists in previous years.
Edinburgh -based accordionist David Vernon has been a full-time professional for many years, having performed at musical events and festivals all over the UK and abroad, including Canada, Middle East, Switzerland, Iceland and New Zealand among many others. Once described as “hugely talented and hilarious” [Shetland Accordion Festival], David’s solo concerts provide excellent entertainment, displaying his vast knowledge and incredible ability. A lover of world music, he takes us on a tour to countries many of us might rarely associate with the accordion.
Eilidh Anderson & Barbara Anderson
Eilidh is 19 years old and lives in Tarland, Aberdeenshire. She comes from a fiddling family and started to play when she was 6 years old. She was taught classical music by Andy Linklater from Aboyne and now by Tracey Webster in Banchory and Scottish traditional music by Heather Anderson and Paul Anderson.
She is a member of Banchory Strathspey and Reel Society and the Mayfield Group. She also plays with the Callum Cruickshank Scottish Dance Band and with the fiddle group Deeside Loons and Quines.
She competes in fiddle competitions all over Scotland and last year competed in the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship for the first time and was awarded most promising newcomer to the competition. She has also recently taken part in the Oban Masters.
Eilidh will be accompanied on piano by Barbara Anderson, well known fiddler and teacher from Huntly, Aberdeenshire.
Emma started accordion lessons aged 5 under the tuition of Wilson Wood of Whitburn, being mainly classically trained. She still mainly focuses on continental and classical music and enjoys playing French musette and tangos as well as more heavy classical music.
Over the years, she has seen a lot of success with competitions all over the country notably winning the All-Scotland Junior Accordion Championship, the All-Scotland Senior Ladies accordion championship twice, and was the first girl and youngest person to win the Oban Accordion Masters back in 2014. She has also been the 13 and under and 15 and under British Accordion Champion. More recently she won overall senior accordion champion at the NAAFC Accordion Festival, and she is the current Northern Ireland accordion champion. Also this year Emma played piano in the Adin Graham Ceilidh Band, winning Young Ceilidh Band of the Year 2016.
Emma also plays the piano, church organ and bagpipes, and plays in the Royal Burgh of Stirling Grade 2 Pipe Band.
She plays in the accordion band KODA, who have played for Prince Charles and former First Minister Alex Salmond, as well as at T in the Park on several occasions
Emma plays keyboard in the Arts and Film Youth Orchestra directed by Holywood composer Patrick Doyle (whose famous compositions include the soundtracks to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Brave, and the new Disney Cinderella film) which last year performed the soundtrack for the European Premier of the silent film 'IT’. The orchestra is continuing work on further projects.
At the moment Emma plays music as a hobby as she is currently studying LLB Law at the University of Stirling.
Frank Thomson Trio
Accordionist Frank had been around the music scene in Aberdeen and the North-East for many years, having been a member of the Jack Sinclair Band for some 30 years. Although he plays a wide variety of music, he is now mainly involved with Scottish Country Dance music, and plays throughout the UK, with occasional forays across the Atlantic and in Europe.
Frank is past junior champion of Scotland for traditional music, also senior champion for classical accordion, and has completed many recordings for the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, also recorded several Take the Floor programmes with his own band.
Frank has always been a great admirer of all that happens on the musical scene in Shetland, and this is his first visit to the Festival.
The Full Scottish
The band was formed by Nicky McMichan and John Burns in 2014 as an alternative to their own bands. The idea being that while most bands will play as anything from a 2 piece upwards, this band only play as a 6 piece. Hence the name ‘The Full Scottish’.
Gillian Stevenson and Susie Simpson
Gillian started playing fiddle at the age of 10 when her family moved to Tain, Ross-shire. Initially taught under the direction of Christine Martin and subsequently by Robin Calvert, her first experience with Scottish dance band music was under the brilliant guidance of Ali McGregor – lead accordion player with the Tain Scottish Dance Band. She now plays in several different bands including the Jock Fraser Scottish Dance Band, the Susie Simpson Scottish Dance Band, the David Oswald Scottish Dance Band and also a Celtic Rock Band called Rhythm n Reel.
Susie started playing clarinet at school and then naturally progressed to accordion. Her favourite hobby was roller skating round Thurso whilst listening to the Alexander Brothers. Susie is a band leader in her own right and has attended the Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival for the past two years, the first year as a trio and with her full five piece band last year.
Gráinne Brady and Tina Jordan Rees
Gráinne Brady and Tina Jordan Rees are an exciting fiddle and piano duo, originally from Cavan and Lancashire, now based in Glasgow. The girls perform unique and exciting arrangements of their own compositions. They released their debut album, HIGH SPIRITS in 2015 which is comprised of all their own tunes. G&T were nominated in the 'Up & Coming Artist' category at the 2015 MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards.
“It's very rare you hear something that makes you go; Wow! That's totally original.” - Dick Gaughan
Ian Thomson Scottish Dance Band
The band was originally formed in 1988, winning the Perth Festival band competition in 1989, and recording their 1st “Take the Floor” in January 1990. They celebrated their 25th years of broadcasting in January 2015. The line-up has changed only slightly during this time with 3 of those who recorded the 1st broadcast also on the most recent one Tom Lapsley.
In that 25 years the band has recorded two CD’s and has travelled extensively throughout Europe, Venezuela, Trinidad and South Korea.
Kirkjuvagr Ceilidh Band
Kirkjuvagr Ceilidh Band are a five piece family band from Orkney who love to spread their love of music and dance, wherever they go, gaining many fans along the way. Their unique style is popular with traditional music enthusiasts and ceilidh dancers as their own special lilt gets toes tapping and makes people take to the floor. Having successfully released two cds, the band is going from strength to strength.
Lomond Ceilidh Band
The Lomond Ceilidh Band have been regular visitors to the festival since 1999. There are a few changes to the line up since their last visit. The band comprises of Alan Small on accordion midi/bass, Shetland’s own Gemma Donald on fiddle and Kyle Innes on drums. The trio play regularly all over Scotland and have recently recorded on BBC Radio Scotland’s Take the floor. Their new album ‘Back on Track’ will be released later this year.
Manus is no stranger to Shetland having played at the Shetland Folk Festival as well as several Accordion and Fiddle Festivals both as a soloist and with the Brock McGuire Band. Born and brought up in Sligo but resident in East Clare for many years. Manus has had an illustrious fiddle career to date, travelling all over mainly in the states and having made many CDs either solo or with various bands. Manus is extremely popular in Shetland and plays a Ewan Thomson fiddle.
Michael Curran and Mark McCrystall
Michael Curran is a distinguished button accordion player from Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone, and he is recognised as one of Ireland's finest exponents on his instrument. He has won numerous accolades at provincial and national level over the years, culminating with the highly coveted Senior All Ireland Button Accordion title in 2014.
Michael is frequently sought after for sessions and concerts throughout the country and he has completed tours of Ireland, Britain and America with Comhaltas, as well as travelling and performing extensively in many places around Europe and the US.
Also a highly respected teacher, Michael has featured as a regular tutor at many of the main Traditional and Arts festivals in the country. Michael's flair and enthusiasm for the music is evident, and with a unique Ulster style of playing it is both energetic and captivating.
Mark McCrystall is a talented piano player from Omagh, Co. Tyrone. He won the Senior All Ireland Accompaniment title on piano in 2014 and continued his success by winning the Senior All Ireland Piano title in 2015.
He is in high demand as both a soloist and accompanist at many concerts and festivals across Ireland, as his subtle style of accompaniment has elevated his reputation as one of Ireland's leading traditional piano players. Away from Irish music, Mark is equally at ease playing Classical music and other genres, and he is a seasoned performer at various church functions and weddings.
Mark is also an accomplished flute player and member of the newly formed Blackwater Céilí Band along with Michael, which competed in the popular Senior Céilí Band competition in Sligo 2015 at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.
Michael and Mark play regularly together at many events across Ireland, and have been recorded several times by Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha' for her RTÉ RnaG radio programmes, 'Béal Maidine' and 'Ceol Binn ó na Beanna'. Michael and Mark have also featured at many concerts and events with renowned fiddle maestro John Daly, who is no stranger to Shetland and also a seasoned performer at SAFF.
Michael Garvin Scottish Dance Band
Michael Garvin Scottish Dance Band was formed in the early 90s, playing at accordion and fiddle clubs, weddings and functions, and recording numerous Take The Floor broadcasts. They have played in more than twenty countries across the world.
Neil has been playing for around 30 years, competed many times at the Scottish championships in the junior and senior sections at Perth and Musselburgh becoming Senior Scottish champion in 2001 at Perth after achieving numerous 2nd and 3rd places. He lead his own band playing for dances in Fife and Tayside. He has been fortunate travelling the world and done numerous TV and radio broadcasts and recordings with the David Cunningham Scottish Dance band playing second box.
Neil Hardie Scottish Dance Band
The Neil Hardie Scottish Dance Band was formed around 15 years ago and has had more or less the same 5 piece line up from the beginning. They perform regularly all over Scotland and the North of England at dances and accordion clubs where they have performed as guest artistes at over 30 difference clubs. The band are delighted to be returning to play at the Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival this year. The line up for this Festival will be Neil Hardie - lead accordion, Brian Forrest – 2nd accordion, Neil’s sister Caroline Hardie – fiddle, Jim Nichol – piano, Graham Jamieson – drums and Alasdair MacLeod – double bass.
Roddy Matthews & Jim Nichol
Roddy and Jim have played here many times before together and with different bands/groups. Roddy always brings us some delightful music from his own Northumbrian and Border traditions as well as his influences from wider afield. He recently performed and tutored at The Neil Gow Fiddle Festival in Dunkeld and is a regular guest artist around the accordion and fiddle scene. He is a founder of The Coquetdale Music Trust Charity in his own native Northumberland where many of the best Shetland artistes have performed also. Jim Nichol is a much respected pianist on the Scottish Dance Band scene having broadcast with numerous bands. His own Border hill farming background brings an understanding of the music and the ways of the hills which so compliments Roddy's playing.
Shane Rooney & Brian Sweeney
Making their second visit to the Shetland Festival Shane Rooney (piano accordion) and Brian Sweeney (guitar) are from the north west of Ireland and have been playing Irish traditional music for years. They both run sessions in Donegal, Sligo and Fermanagh all year round, which is where most of their music comes from. What they enjoy most about their music is having tunes and meeting people interested in music and the craic.
Tom Hardaker Duo
Thom has studied a 7 year specialist course at the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory, St Petersburg, Russia, under professor Oleg Sharov. Tom has won many competitions, including the Northern Ireland Accordion Competition, the Scottish National Accordion Championship, UK National Championship for acoustic and electric accordion. He has performed widely around Europe and the UK, both solo and part of different ensembles.
Wullie Scott Scottish Dance Band
This is a first trip to the festival for the band. The band consists of mainly central based musicians from Glasgow and the surrounding areas. Wullie leading the band has performed at the festival twice before, once as a soloist and once before playing in a band. Iain Anderson joins the band on fiddle - no stranger to the festival. Martainn Skene, originally from Fort William but now based in Glasgow, plays piano. Making his first festival performance, on drums, is Steven Nelson from Dumbarton and completing the line up on second accordion is Neil MacGregor from Thurso, who has also played at the festival a number of times before. The band is look forward to the new challenge of playing at the Shetland accordion and fiddle festival. Their influences are very varied from the most traditional bands to continental soloists. All of the musicians are big fans of the event and consider it one of the highlights in the traditional calendar.
David is delighted to return to the festival as a solo accordionist, now living on the Island of Sanday in Orkney David still manages to play gig throughout the country with various different bands but his love of the 'West Coat Melodies' is still very much part of his 'bag' - his recent broadcasts with John Carmichael is evident of that style of playing, David is looking forward to meeting up with old friends in Shetland and performing at the various events.