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A July weekend of gospel, Cajun, & bluegrass starring The McCrary Sisters, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, & The Coal Porters.

Shetland Arts is delighted to announce that it will present an American Roots weekend in July, Thursday 18 – Saturday 20, featuring gospel, Cajun, and bluegrass music from The McCrary Sisters, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, and The Coal Porters.

McCrary Sisters

The McCrary Sisters

The McCrary Sisters will open the weekend with a performance in Mareel on Thursday 18 July. Alfreda, Ann, Deborah and Regina were recently crowned as “arguably Nashville’s greatest soul sisters” by Robert Oermann in the USA’s famed Music Row Magazine, and have long been the first-call soul voices for the likes of Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Dr John, Isaac Hayes, Buddy Miller, and Patty Griffin. They have also sung with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, and recently appeared on the new Mavericks album.

Having shared the stage over the years with the afore-mentioned legends, they hit the spotlight in their own right in 2011 thanks to their hugely acclaimed debut album Our Journey, an album that made many Top 10 lists in the USA that year. This years’ follow up All the Way is another triumphant blend of classic gospel, funk, blues and soul.

There are few words to describe the power, passion and pure soulfulness of the sisters live. They are making their first visit to the UK as part of this years’ Southern Fried Festival in Perth, and Shetland Arts is proud to be working in association with Southern Fried to bring Shetland audiences a unique taste of this magnificent group during their brief visit to the UK.

Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys

Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys

Friday 19 July will see Mareel welcome Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys. In their 25 years together, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys have deservedly gained a world-wide, unparalleled reputation for excellence in Cajun music, going from strength to strength, constantly evolving, but still sounding as fresh and invigorated as the day they first formed.

Never before in the world of Cajun music has such a comparable wealth of individual musical talent and skill been brought together at the same table: Riley wields a button box that “squeezes like an accordion but shouts hallelujah like a big brass band,” and is surrounded by fiddle, guitar, three heartfelt voices and a power-house rhythm section.

The Coal Porters

The Coal Porters

The Coal Porters, formed ten years ago by ex Long Ryders front-man Sid Griffin, will make a welcome return to Shetland on Saturday 20 July to provide the bluegrass strand of the American Roots weekend. They will also do a second rural concert on Friday 19 at the Muckle Roe Hall.

After five very well received albums, plus live appearances at the likes of the Glastonbury Festival, extensive tours of the USA, Europe and further afield and opening for the likes of the legendary Chris Hillman (Byrds and Flying Burrito Bros) The Coal Porters continue to delight audiences all over the world with the intense power of fiddle, mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar, doghouse bass and a wonderful four-part harmony vocal delivery.

The Coal Porters deliver a fresh, invigorated ‘take’ on traditional, acoustic bluegrass that still maintains all the authentic and necessary elements of the original music and sound, attracting new and often younger audiences to the genre, while still more than satisfying the already committed and purist Bluegrass aficionado in the process.

Their one-off Scottish date in Mareel will round off wonderfully what should be a terrific three days of American Roots music in the islands.

Shetland Arts’ Marketing Officer, Lisa Ward, said: “The American Roots weekend this summer is going to be something really special. The line-up is world-class, and sure to be very popular with Shetland audiences.”

Tickets cost £20 for each concert at Mareel, or as a special American Roots weekend deal, £50 for all three concerts. They will go on sale on Saturday 18 May and will be available to purchase via Shetland Box Office in Mareel & Islesburgh, over the phone on 01595 745 555, or online at and

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