Emma Mitchell (nee Shearer) is another one of  the faces of the Highland music scene that seems to get everywhere. An astounding amount of enthusiasm is matched with a beautiful voice. It will surprise no one that knows Emma that she has a lot to to say about 2011….

emma 50 thumb - Emma Shearer reviews 2011

How has 2011 been for you musically?

I’ve played numerous gigs in a variety of venues this year from festivals to Churches to book publishing events to radio stations to pubs to weddings including my own to the Tapas Bar Musicians Showcase to Coffee Shop Open Mic Sessions and to busking. 2011 has been an awesome year as it’s provided me with the kick up the ass I needed to try and make something of my music, to learn about which direction I would like my music to go in and it’s helped me to improve my song writing skills and has motivated me to write more songs. Performing at Belladrum Tartan Heart Fringe Festival for the second year running was a rollercoaster of lyrically spontaneous jamming sessions on the Potting Shed stage to intimate acoustic eat your heart out electro folk rock acoustic vocal and guitar performances on the HEN Stage.

What was the best local act this year and why?

I would have to say young local musician Erin Hall-Gardiner is my best local act of this year as she has such a natural, unique, ear friendly voice that I was totally awe struck listening to and watching her musical performance at The Coffee Shop in Strathpeffer, her musical talents are endless, her guitar playing style works really well with the tunes she chooses to play and she’s definitely someone to look out for on the music scene in 2012. I know she is busy song writing just now so keep your ears to the ground.

What was the best non-local act you have seen this year?

It is with out a doubt Isaac D.J. Sutherland from Dunnet Head Light House near Thurso, this guy deserves so much credit for the effort and hard work he has put in to the music scene ever since he was 5 years old, there’s actually a You Tube clip of him playing the drums on stage with his late father John Sutherland who sang and played guitar next to him back in 1985 at the Weigh Inn in Thurso and they performed on stage together many times after that. Up at Dunnet Head Light House Isaac has learnt so much from his father over the years and now he is a force to be reckoned with on any instrument.

He’s an amazing drummer, singer, sound engineer, music producer and lead guitarist with the guitar playing abilities that makes your jaw drop to the ground and stays there. He can play any genre of music with anybody on stage and he loves to play all sorts of music including rock, blues, jazz and grass roots music, his own songs are really interesting and he’s fascinating to watch when you see him on stage it’s difficult to look away, make sure you check him out on the Internet.

What was your favourite music experience this year?

My favourite music experience was listening to special guest Hamish Roberts at the Coffee Shop Open Mic Sessions in Strathpeffer at the start of the summer, he was out of this world, the audience was gobsmacked at the very elaborate guitar techniques he used in his set and his style was refreshing to hear on the music scene, one minute he jazzed it up, then funked it up and then tore a rock ballad apart made it his own and added a classical twist to it. He writes his own songs, sings from the soul, smacks, taps, plucks, picks and strums those guitar strings to his hearts content and loves Nick Drake. He is now a host and sound engineer at the Musicians Showcase at the Tapas Bar in Inverness and he’s a guitar and drum tutor at Music Works.

What do you want from Santa?

Lots of snow so I can go skiing, but I would really like a Lakewood guitar for Christmas they are made of a variety of types of woods, they’re beautifully made guitars and I’ve had the pleasure of playing one which I personally found really hard to let go of, I hope my husband is reading this, wink wink.

What’s your hopes for the music scene in 2012?

I am currently recording my album, so I’m hoping to launch it in March 2012 with the help of local music venues, music promoters, radio stations and of course I need the support of the music lovers in the Highland Music Scene. The Highlands is full of musical talent and I know that the music world is starting to acknowledge this and more and more major music industry contacts are travelling up to the Highlands in search of the next big thing. We have to remember that just because we live far away from the major UK cities and record labels it doesn’t mean that someone isn’t going to get lucky via the internet or at a gig one night up here.

What are your plans for 2012?

Some of my music plans include that I would like to write tonnes of songs, sing and be heard, record, record, record, organise a tour, work on airing my music on the radio stations more, gig lots, play at more festivals, play the guitar more, write a book and write letters to friends rather than emailing them and Facebooking them as it’s doing my head in, keep fit and healthy, continue to be an open minded considerate mother, start painting pictures of the music scene, enjoy married life, plant a seed and see how it grows in the music world. it’s so hard to make it in the music world that you have to press all the music buttons to try and make it big.

Got anything to plug?

Professional music video coming soon.

Thanks to Emma for her time and McIntosh Photography for the image