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Sunday, 5 June 2016

Orkney Folk Festival

Last weekend was the Orkney Folk Festival (it's been going for 34 years and goes from strength to strength).  I managed to get over for some of the concerts and pub sessions.  The weather was glorious (for a change) and on the Saturday when I was over there was also lots going on in the street with impromptu groups, as well as local produce being sold at stalls, and tea and cake available to help raise money for charity.  The atmosphere is lively and an opportunity to catch up with folk too as often those who have moved away from Orkney come back for the festival.  Here are a few photos I took over the weekend.

I went to Ivan Drever's Birthday Bash concert in the Stromness Town Hall (a converted church and the location for many a great night). He had a string of Orkney musicians joining him on stage and there was a real party atmosphere! Ivan is originally from Orkney but now lives in Norway but comes back to perform at various gigs.  First time I'd been able to see him though.  I had to leave before the end to get the ferry home, but it was still a fantastic concert!

To the right of him in this photo is Andy Cant, also an acclaimed Orkney musician who plays a multiplicity of instruments and composes too. He is also Button's vet.  The one that said she needed to lose a little weight.  After seeing him perform I have forgiven him.  Button on the other hand...

Many of Ivan's musician friends were performing too including the Wrigley Sisters, the Songshop Choir, Saltfishforty, and the Kirkwall City Pipe Band. A variety of musicians and styles accompanying Ivan made for a musical extravaganza!

Saturday began with a concert in the Stromness Hotel with several groups of musicians taking the stage including the local community band the Stronsay Silver Darlings. Again the first chance I've had to see them play.  I was quite a way back in the hall so probably not the best of photos! The group is made up of youngsters and adults from the Orkney island of Stronsay.

They were followed by a band from Dublin, Lynched, I loved their kind of music, lively,  and great voices harmonising..

And finally Julie Fowlis, a Gaelic folk singer with a beautiful sweet voice.  I particularly loved her Gaelic voice music - sounds made in a rhythm as women would have worked the tweed.

Then it was outside into the bright sunshine and time to meet up with a friend and wander around listening to some MORE great music. This group were playing at the pier head by the John Rae statue.

We ended up at a pub session in "The Legion" (The Royal British Legion) up the road in Stromness to hear Gnoss playing.

They were soon joined by a group of their pals and played for hours! It was so energising to see such young musicians playing great music.

Then it was time to head home, the festival goes on for 4 days and I only managed a day and a half! Lightweight!  Though it's not so easy from Graemsay unless I stay in town. But I still had a fun time!

Stromness was buzzing too with visitors and locals, and the town was "dressed" for the part.

So that's it for another year, and a good time was had by all, by all accounts!


  1. I love the band name of Stronsay Silver Darlings. With that name I think they could only play good music, and a music session in The Legion pub sounds great too. I can understand how you were happy to hear so many groups play.

  2. Julie Fowlis is one of my favorite singers. Jerry Douglas has been known to play dobro guitar for her (the guitar is played flat and "fingered" with a steel slide) -- he of Alison Krause and Union Station fame.

    This is my favorite song of hers at the moment. (Chris Thile of Nickel Creek played mandolin on the album.)

  3. Oh... I would have given an arm and a leg to see RURA playing at the Orkney Folk Festival. Their "The Lasher" is one of the best performances I've ever heard and I listen to it minimum ten times a day.