ONE of the most amazing people I ever met was Davie Henderson.
He was so downright honest and sincere, had such a great sense of humour and mischief, and SO much passion for his homeland, that he gets the credit for making me fall in love with Shetland.
Davie had that rare ability to leave you feeling every bit as enthusiastic and excited as he was, just from having spent time in his hugely infectious presence.
After that, drawn in mainly by his influence, Brenda and I soon fell far more deeply enthralled by the place – and its people.
Davie and I had first met when we were each invited as delegates to attend the extraordinary annual musical jamboree that is Folk Alliance International.
That year it was staged in Toronto and as we were both flying from Scotland, we made contact beforehand and consulted on flight booking plans in order to travel out there and arrive together.
We hit it off, of course. Everyone who met this most naturally gregarious man for the first time and had the good fortune to get to know him would conclude that he was their kind of guy.
He had been to FAI before in his capacity as the main programmer for Shetland Folk Festival, booking artists from around the world to come in and bolster the multitude of home-based musical muscle that exists in these most northerly isles.
So, all of that to salute someone who was to become a great friend and who, very sadly died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2014, delivering a shock wave across the community.
Yes, Sir, we loved you, brother.
And we love Shetland Folk Festival, and those who continue to carry the torch that was handed over to them too – all fiercely determined to stick to the same vision he had to continue to make the event a world class gathering with a pedigree the envy of others.
So, let me say something about Shetland Folk Festival, just in case it transpires you’d be a first-timer if you decided to make the effort to attend the next one…
Firstly, it’s well worth making the effort to reach Shetland by ferry.
Those who fly may get there quicker but in doing so they miss out on one of the event’s surprise attractions.
The overnight sailing from Aberdeen takes twelve hours and those with the stamina for it can spend every single one of them enjoying numerous warm-up sessions in the presence of most of the visiting musicians who head for the bar, stake their claim on a performing pitch and settle in for the trip.
This legendary event has been going strong for over forty years is on every thinking musician’s wish list.
You are guaranteed to enjoy a helluva hoolie in the company of a premier league get-together in the lounge bar of the big Northlink ferry, Hjaltland as she sets sail.
Shetland prides itself in combining world class acts from overseas with cream-of-the-crop local attractions. They always end up with a thoroughly eclectic and well-balanced mix.