The award-winning Orkney Folk Festival begins its thirtieth anniversary run today, Thursday 31st May, ahead of four jam-packed days of all things folk, taking place throughout the county and featuring home-grown and international acts.
The 2012 Orkney Folk Festival sits one week later in the year than would be expected, due to the late May Bank Holiday falling in early June, for one year only, in line with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Chart-topper Eddi Reader, the specially reunited Foundry Bar Band, acclaimed transatlantic duo Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, and the one-weekend-only union of Kris Drever’s Festival Quartet are just four of the 19 acts taking to the stage alongside internationally renowned home-grown favourites, such as The Chair, The Wrigley Sisters and Saltfishforty, as well as the next generation of island talent from youngsters No Soond, Broken Strings and Hadhirgaan.
Kick-starting the long-running island festival’s thirtieth year in spectacular style, the Orkney Folk Festival was crowned Event of the Year at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, last December.
Since its first outing, in 1983, the festival has grown to become one of the most prolific and inviting celebrations of folk music in Scotland’s national calendar, annually attracting audiences from around the world to Orkney for the festival.
Separating the festival from increasing nationwide competition is the equal footing given to Orcadian acts against artists visiting the isles for the festival.
This year 26 Orcadian acts feature on the festival’s prestigious bill, outnumbering the 19 acts travelling in from throughout Scotland, England, Denmark, Canada and the USA.
Highlights from the anniversary programme include a reprise and album launch of Orkney Folk: The Gathering – a cross-generational showcase of Orkney’s own folk idiom, with an all-star house band and guest spots, featuring Kris Drever, Douglas Montgomery and Brian Cromarty (Saltfishforty), Billy Peace, members of The Chair, Kristan Harvey and Billy Jolly, amongst many others – which premiered at the 2011 festival to a standing ovation and unanimous praise from both local and national critics.
Other gems include a concert dedicated to Ronnie Aim, one of Orkney’s most prolific composers and fiddle players of the twentieth century, An Evening with the Foundry Bar Band, the 30th Birthday Doo, and the two annual seven-act-strong Farewell Concerts.
Orkney Folk Festival’s Artistic Director, Bob Gibbon said: “We are delighted, and very excited, to be celebrating thirty years of the Orkney Folk Festival, and are doing so with a very exciting line-up and programme, with something sure to whet everyone’s appetite. The whole committee are, once again, raring to go, ready to welcome visitors from around the world to this very special county and festival.”
For full listings and information on the festival, visit www.orkneyfolkfestival.com, or keep up to date with the festival on Facebook – www.facebook.com/orkneyfolkfestival – or Twitter, at @OrkneyFolkFest.