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Saturday, 17 June 2017

Orkney Folk Festival

Still catching up with blog posts!  In Winter not a lot happens so not much to blog about and in summer, so much going on no time to blog! Arggh!  Anyway these photos are from the last weekend in May when it was the Orkney Folk Festival in Stromness and around.

This year I went to quite a few gigs.  A friend, L, had a camper van in Stromness so we used that as a base during the day for refreshments as the town was so busy it was hard to get even a cup of tea!

Above is Kris Drever from Orkney. He won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 and is a prolific composer of contemporary folk. He now lives in Shetland so it was good to see him performing back in Orkney.

Below is Norwegian Ragnhild Hemsing, a virtuoso in Norwegian folk music, and hales from Valdres. She plays the very distinctive tunes from that area.  She played on the Hardanger fiddle (you can hear her play here on Youtube. She also played some more classical pieces on a conventional violin. Both were great!  I'd never come across the Hardanger fiddle before and it is a beautiful looking instrument.  But she said if you play this kind of fiddle you spend half your time tuning it!  It has 9 strings and certainly seemed very sensitive.  The concert was in Skaill House in one of the lovely reception rooms upstairs.  It has a great atmosphere about it and I love going to concerts there.  The room is small so tickets scarce, but it feels like one is at a private "soiree" than a concert!

Back in Stromness Town Hall now (a former church) and Talisk. This group from Mainland Scotland were extraordinary. They were winners of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2015 and I could see why.  The young chap on the concertina (Mohsen Amini) was extraordinary and played with such energy it was mesmerising!

As well as existing professional artists and groups there is a chance for members of the community to get involved in workshops.  This was the Song Shop Choir performing on stage at the Town Hall. Great to see some youngsters on the stage too!

And in a quieter, more reflective event was the Per Mare "Haven inside the Bay" - it was a celebration of Stromness and some of the characters.  The performers were Stromness folk.  At the mic is Joanna Ramsey, poet and writer. Sitting behind are Morag McInnes, Fiona Matheson, Bryce Wilson, Graham Garson and the empty chair had held storyteller Tom Muir. Behind them all was Tom, a young musician from Stromness.  And on the right - lots of cakes to be bought!!  Though I was too busy rushing to the next gig to even peruse them closely!

Back to the folk music, and Saltfishforty made up of Douglas Montgomery and Brian Cromarty. I just loved the energy of their playing!!

And outside the weather was glorious!  I even had bare feet and sandals!  It was great around the town, lots of folk milling about.  There was music outside some of the pubs too.  And in the harbour the Swan from Shetland was giving sailing trips around the Orkney waters. Sadly I didn't have time to go.  Just in the distance between the rigging you can see Graemsay and the Hoy High lighthouse!

On the deck of the Swan

And in the street - singer Eddie Reader chatting to Frankie Sinclair about whelks!

Back home on Graemsay and all was calm....


  1. just another day on Graemsay... ps finding it very hard to comment, Mark.

    1. Sorry to hear that Mark. Is it my site?

    2. No its not you wonderful site Sian !!! It's my daft husband �� but I'm sure he will soon assure you of this with some blogger excuse. I sincerely hope we will vist you some day soon, I love to hear your daily news via mark x x

    3. Good evening Sean, it is not a problem, my Wife (Deb) has assured me that everything is fine. Blogger have upped their game to erradicate spam and I think we are all in favour of that. Always enjoyvyour blogs. Reagards, Mark.

  2. Replies
    1. It is such great fun, a lovely atmosphere in the town!

  3. Hello :)
    I had to comment here, but I might mention how I discovered your blog.
    I am from Brazil, and I was looking at Google Maps, I love looking at the places, different countries... Then, I wanted to see how was the Northern place in Europe, then in Scotland, and then I found a group of small islands.
    I wanted to know more about then, because there wasn't google street view in there, so I searched their names, and found your blog :)

    I am so happy that I did it, your photos really show the beauty of the small island, it makes us want to live there! And Ms Button is so cute!
    Thanks for sharing your experience, I will keep watching your blog for more news and amazing photos.

    1. Hi Jean, thank you for taking the time to comment! Hope you enjoy the photos and stories from this small island in the very North!

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Hi Sean very much liking The old croft of Dean photos with big looming hills. Also "soiree" in Skaill House, what a treat that would be ! Thank you Debs x