Committee “completely delighted” with the 40th folk festival


The VISITING musicians will leave Shetland today (Monday) after the weekend’s busy folk festival – with its organizing committee very happy with how things went.

Committee member Mhari McLeman said the festival was close to selling its 6,250 tickets.

She said the committee was “totally and utterly thrilled” with how things turned out at the 40th festival.

The Shetland Folk Festival was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid pandemic so the weekend was eagerly awaited.

The number of acts and events has been reduced this time around, with the committee taking a cautious approach as Covid restrictions ease.

Mareel Saturday night. Photo: Lieve Boussauw

Bigger sites like Mareel and Clickimin, which have better ventilation, were used more often, and before kick-off everyone involved was asked to be “responsible and respectful”.

“A lot of people also said it was the first time they felt normal in over two years,” McLeman added.

“That was very important in building, I think, people’s confidence in terms of releasing and mixing again.”

Scottish folk music legend Dougie MacLean kicked off the 40th Shetland Folk Festival on Thursday evening. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgeat Media

Concerts were held Thursday through Sunday, with daytime sessions at the Islesburgh club.

McLeman described the festival as a “massive financial risk” as it returned from its Covid delays.

But the popularity of this year’s event with visitors to Shetland – there were hundreds of participants – helped make the festival financially viable.

Thinking back to four days of music, Shetland News Critic Caroline McKenzie said committee member Lisa Johnson’s instruction for Sunday night’s Foy at Mareel was to ‘take it all in and go’, and the packed auditorium was more than happy to oblige.

Canadian duo JP Cormier (right) and Dave Gunning in the big kirk on Thursday night. Photo: Chris Brown

“We were treated to soulful vocals, wild instrumentals and great banter, all underscored by the sheer joy of being part of this weekend-long musical celebration,” she said.

“It is the guest artists who occupy the front of the stage at the Foys but, as always, they are unanimous in their admiration and respect for the local artists with whom they have shared the poster of the various concerts of the last three days.

“There have been some potentially major hiccups and headaches for the hard-working committee along the way, but they have pulled off a remarkable feat in creating a festival that has finally given many of us the feeling that life is getting back to normal after the pandemic.

“I attended my very first folk festival in 1972, and in fifty years the joy of listening to different numbers whose music can make me laugh and cry, sing and dance has never left me. Based on last weekend, I don’t think that will ever happen.

“It’s great to be able to say that the Shetland Folk Festival is finally back – with a bang. Can’t wait for 2023!”

Danish band Habadekuk provided an unforgettable live experience. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgeat Media
Irish singer Heidi Talbot makes her Shetland Folk Festival debut. Photo: Lieve Boussauw
Festival committee member Lewie Peterson introducing Ross & Ryan Couper at the Clickimin concert on Friday night. Photo: Lieve Boussauw
Young Fiddler of the Year 2021, Magnus Williamson was the first performer on stage during Saturday night’s concert at Mareel. Photo: Lieve Boussauw
Finnish Frigg Septet at Clickimin on Saturday evening. Photo: Chris Brown
Haltadans and Kevin at the Ringin’ Strings concert on Friday. Pictured: Chris Brown.

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