As this issue is sandwiched between two major musical events (namely the Schools’ music festival and the 37th Shetland Folk Festival) it seemed fitting to go for an all-out musical extravaganza. Whatever your musical taste, you’ll surely find something in here to make your heart sing.
This has been an easy issue to put together. Why? Well, Shetland is so ridiculously well-endowed with musical talent that you really don’t have to look very hard for interesting people and stories to feature.
So, what have we got for you this month? Chris Cope visits local music promoters Neil Riddell and Davie Gardener to find out just what this glamorous sounding job entails. Louise Johnson, Folk Festival Committee member, gives us a preview of what we can expect from this year’s Folk Festival. (Tip: it sounds stupendous – get these armbands right now if you haven’t already done so!) If you fancy winning a free Folk Festival pass, then turn straight to our competition page.
This month, you can dip into the quirky world of local band Big Time Quell, take a visual tour of Tommy Isbister’s fiddle workshop, and learn the intriguing story of Heavy Metal Buffet TV. We also go behind the scenes at the Shetland Community and Training Orchestra and hear about the BBC Ten Pieces Event from one of the young participants.
There are musical blasts from the past too – don’t miss John Coutts’ stunning musical images from the 1960s and check out our Life Story feature to hear from two local legends.
Music is the food of love, but all the tunes in the world won’t fill an empty stomach, so if you’re feeling peckish head straight for our food column on page 28. Our distinguished guest this month is Bruce Gilardi from Walls Bakery, who has kindly shared a delicious recipe for rhubarb torte. If Bruce’s bread is anything to go by, this is going to be good.
Wishing all our readers a wonderful April filled with music and merriment. Next month we’ll be courting controversy with our “Issues issue”. Looking forward to it already! See you in May.
This month, we visited the inspirational fiddle maker and boat builder Tommy Isbister at his home in Burland.
The home of Tommy and Mary Isbister will hold special memories for many Shetlanders. The couple live on Burland Croft: a favourite day trip destination for nurseries and schools all over Shetland. Throngs of bairns come to meet and feed the animals every year, but few of these young visitors will ever have seen inside the house or be aware of the treasures it holds. Tommy Isbister has an amazing fiddle workshop and a shed where he builds his own boats. See April’s Shetland Life for the full story and wonderful photography by Leanne Macleod.
Would you like your home to feature in our Through the Keyhole feature? If so, please get in touch.
We’ve had the downright amazing Leanne Macleod as featured photographer this month – her brief was to take a classic album cover and give it a Shetland twist. We loved her work so much that we couldn’t choose just one cover, so we went with all four. Which one(s) will you pick?
We’re also offering all our readers the chance to recreate their very own classic album covers. Pick a favourite album, get some friends and family together and give it your own unique Shetland twist. Don’t forget to share your pics to the Shetland Life Facebook Page (or else tag us on Instagram or Twitter).
This month, Alex Garrick-Wright takes a look at one of Shetland’s best-kept secrets; the brilliant web comedy, Heavy Metal Buffet TV.
The Heavy Metal Buffet is one of Shetland’s most prolific music organisations; each year they run the highly-acclaimed HMB festival, three days of rock and heavy metal which feature dozens of acts across multiple stages and venues, They also somehow find time to produce a regular, free podcast which covers gigs, reviews and events from the Shetland rock scene.
Curious to find out more? The first series will be available later on this year. In the meantime, check out the first series.
This month we speak to Louise Johnson of the Shetland Folk Festival committee. If you’ve ever wondered how this small but dedicated group manage to pull off such a brilliant event every year, then make sure you read our interview with Louise!
Here’s a glimpse of three of the festival highlights Louse mentions:
Fiddlers Bid are one of Shetland’s best known exports and are internationally respected as world class fiddlers. This year they mark the 25th Anniversary of their debut festival appearance at the Hamnavoe Hall in 1992. Described as “a musical tornado”, the magnetic four fiddle frontline of Chris Stout, Kevin Henderson, Andrew Gifford and Maurice Henderson will be joined by Scotland’s dynamic harpist Catriona McKay, a powerhouse rhythm section of ace Irish musician and guitarist Sean O Graham, and top Newcastle bassist Neil Harland to create a display of stunning virtuosity.
Making their debut UK performance at the Shetland Folk Festival, The Lonely Heartstring Band is a Boston based acoustic quintet that creates a unique blend of old and new styles. Since their beginnings in 2012, The Lonely Heartstring Band has been on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down. This was reflected in their achieving an IBMA Momentum Award in 2015. This classic bluegrass band combines soulful instrumental virtuosity with soaring three-part harmonies to create a dynamic, diverse and heartfelt performance.
Also making their UK debut at the Shetland Folk Festival are Trad.Attack! who deliver fresh folk music from Estonia — friendly, passionate, powerful, dynamic, cheerful and true to its roots. They have been described as a “21st century Nordic turbo folk band who thrill”. Within two years of starting out they had played in 26 countries and had bagged 14 Estonian Music Awards. Their punchy and rousing shows will be performed with a more acoustic approach in smaller festival venues.