“A gorgeous fusion of continents and styles.  I was very happy to add my hand“ Howie B

Shooglenifty has partnered with an old friend from the band’s early days to deliver an exciting new remix of the track Jog Yer Bones, from their 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 album Written in Water.

Released to celebrate their Edinburgh International Festival appearance on 9 August 2019 (Royal Lyceum Theatre), the remix came about after the band’s drummer James Mackintosh connected with Howie B earlier this year.

Howie loved the vibe on the band’s collaborative album with the Rajasthani supergroup Dhun Dhora, released to great acclaim (and a spot in Mojo’s Top Ten Folk Albums of 2018) last November. So much so, he quickly agreed to work his magic on Jog Yer Bones.

“Having loved and admired his amazing work in various guises over the years, I was totally delighted that my old pal the brilliant and maverick producer Howie B accepted the Shoogle challenge to remix Jog Your Bones, particularly as it wasn’t recorded in concert pitch (it’s tuned down 3/4 of a tone to suit Rajasthani singer Dayam Khan). This didn’t phase Howie one bit:  he chose some choice elements, sprinkled some 5/4 synth squelch groove, a fluffy cloud or two, and created a beautiful hypnofolkadlic funky mantra for the Shooglesphere.” James Mackintosh

The single (with album version as ‘B’ side) was released on 2 August 2019.

About Howie B

One of the founding fathers of Trip-Hop, Pussyfoot Records and his own children, Howie B had a busy 90s.

Howie is a hugely well-respected composer, a musical shapeshifter who has worked his way through countless genres. Having worked with the likes of U2, Björk, Robbie Robertson, Brian Eno, Sly and Robbie, Massive Attack and Soul II Soul, Howie has become a respected go-to for production and cinematic composition.

His output has grown ever more diverse in scope in recent years, with projects including creating a score for a show at the Milan Planetarium, collaborating with massive brands Maserati, Bowers and Wilkins and Range Rover.

Howie has written soundtracks for a large number of Chinese feature films in the last couple of years as well as scoring independent films including Dollhouse, How To Sell A Banksy and Rabbit and most recently the end title music (co-written with Robbie Robertson and Matthew McConaughey) for Martin Scorsese’s film The Wolf of Wall Street.

The Scottish globe trotter has travelled the world searching for new and interesting talent to collaborate with and nurture. Most recently, Howie has set up the musical charity Intermission with philanthropist Pete Phornprapha of Strangefruit Festival in Thailand, the charity helps young local musicians to find their way onto the stage at big music events and festivals through mentoring.Now you can find him on a small island in France living as a musical nomad, creating magnificent Chinese film scores and beautiful experimental music of his own.

Find out more about Howie B >>

L-R: Sattar, Latif, Swaroop, Chanan and Pyaru Khan Manganiyar during recording at the Mehrangarh Fort, September 2017

We were delighted when we heard from Govind Singh Bhati recently. Govind is an expert in Rajasthani music, and after many months looking at the CD on his shelf, he finally got a moment to sit down give Written in Water a spin. After listening to it five times in a row (!), this is what he told us …

“Great work guys congratulations to all of you for this wonderful collaboration. Each song is favourite of mine and the whole mix is a real treat for music lovers like me who enjoy Rajasthani folk and world music. It’s amazing how it swings between Celtic and Marwari music with natural ease. One can clearly feel the strong bond you all have for the music in this project. It’s the best collaborative album till now, and the recording is gold standard.”

This is high praise indeed!

In 2019, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of one infamous wall being torn down, we live in hope that history will teach, even those who generally refuse to listen, that dividing walls exist only to be ultimately overcome by a collective spirit way stronger than bricks and mortar.

East West is a brand new song by Shooglenifty that celebrates values of solidarity, respect, friendship and humanity that we are much in need of in 2019. This original composition by the band is fused with a traditional Galician love song brought to the recording studio by Tanxugueiras. Seaia is named after the tiny coastal village in Galicia where it was collected.

Back story

In August 2017, the Shoogles were invited to Santiago de Compostela by local impresario and long-time friend Vitor Belho to play at the Feito A Man Festival (literally the ‘Handmade Festival’). Unbeknown to the band, Vitor had made a promise our late fiddle player Angus some 18 months previously that he would bring Shooglenifty back to Galicia. The band’s connection with this ‘home away from home’ goes back to the 1990s, spans many tours, and sparked many friendships. It also inspired two of Angus’s most famous tunes, 250 To Vigo and Nordal Rumba.

The band had no regular fiddle player at the time, but Jon Bews, an amazing fiddle player from Edinburgh, agreed to come to Santiago de Compostela with us.

Meeting Aida, Olaia and Sabela from Tanxugueiras when they played with Banda das Crechas at Shooglenifty’s tribute to Angus at Celtic Connections earlier in 2017 was an inspirational moment amongst the emotional reminiscences that night. The Shoogles, and indeed the audience, were blown away by the sheer energy and incredible power of these three young voices.

Once we knew that Shooglenifty would play at Feito A Man, we looked for a way to record with Tanxugueiras while we were in Galicia. Xabier Olite of Banda das Crechas offered his studio in the gorgeous village of Rois, a short drive from Santiago and we were all set.

The new song’s live debut was warmly received by the band’s Galican fans at Feito A Man, and East West has been wowing audiences ever since. The Shoogles were reunited with Tanxugueiras in August 2018 when both bands performed for the closing of the European Championships in Glasgow, and will be back together at Glasgow Barrowlands for Celtic Connections on Friday 25 January 2019. The single will be released for download and streaming on the same day.

Get your tickets for Shooglenifty with Tanxugueiras at  Celtic Connections here >>

Shooglenifty

Ewan MacPherson | Mandolin
Garry Finlayson | Electric banjo
James Mackintosh | Percussion
Kaela Rowan | Vocals
Malcolm Crosbie | Electric guitar
Quee MacArthur | Bass

with

Jon Bews | Fiddle

Tanxugueiras

Aida Tarrio | Vocals
Olaia Maneiro | Vocals
Sabela Maneiro | Vocals

Recorded by
Ben Seal and Xabier Olite in Rois, Galicia.

Mixed and produced by
Ben Seal and Shooglenifty

Mastered by
Calum Malcolm

Managed by
Jane-Ann Purdy

Cover design by
Ewan MacPherson

Photography by
Douglas Robertson

Video by
Magnus Graham and Simon Hay (camera)
Alistair Ferguson (editor)
Don Coutts (director)

Funders

This single was made with the assistance of Creative Scotland, the Feito A Man Festival and Cosima Von Saros.

Thanks

Many thanks to Vitor Belho for enduring friendship, unbelievable hospitality and his invaluable contribution to this recording.

Angi Porto and Noa Díaz and all at Feito A Man Festival, Santiago de Compostela.

Manuel Amigo and all the guys from Banda das Crechas.

Aileen Carmichael, Belen Angueira and Lucia Carmichael Vantsis for local assistance and translation.

Antonio and all the staff at Casa das Crechas, and all at Dezaseis Restaurant, Santiago de Compostela

Cat no: SHOOGLE 19019

East West was composed by Ewan MacPherson, Jon Bews, Kaela Rowan and Quee MacArthur. Seaia is traditional Galician.

The track was arranged by Aida Tarrio Torrao, Ewan MacPherson, Garry Finlayson, James Mackintosh, Jon Bews, Kaela Rowan, Malcolm Crosbie, Olaia Maneiro Argibay, Quee MacArthur and Sabela Maneiro Argibay.

© Shooglenifty Ltd. | Ⓟ Shoogle Music Ltd.


Our new album, official release 9 November 2018, is finally ready. Read all about it below …

Introduction

Scotland 2018 feels like a long way from Nirvana. I’m not referring to the political situation, but the veggie restaurant in Jodhpur where the Shoogles first talked about recording an album at the Mehrangarh Fort with Dhun Dhora, the Rajasthani band they had been collaborating with for the preceding few years.

That was October 2015 and no one was sure it would even be possible. Often referred to as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ the Fort is the erstwhile seat of the Maharaja of Marwar-Jodhpur and home to one of the most significant museums in India. However, with the help of Divya Bhatia of Jodhpur Riff, a festival that takes place in the Fort each year, we were able to get the green light from the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and HH Maharaja Gaj Singhji. Funding was sought and secured. And a plan was put in place for recording with Dhun Dhora in October 2016.

We should have been delighted. But it was becoming increasingly obvious that our fiddle player Angus R Grant was very unwell, and a couple of months after being diagnosed with terminal cancer he died. This was October 2016, just at the moment when we should have been recording with him in Rajasthan.

The sands were shifting beneath our feet, and plans for this album put on hold as the band took time out to grieve. Then in February 2017 we received word that Dhun Dhora’s effervescent dholak player Roshan Khan had been killed in a road accident. Now completing the album took on a new significance and a new momentum, with both bands recognising the need to add fuel to the fire that Angus and Roshan had started.

So, in September 2017 the Shoogles finally arrived at the Fort with producer Ben Seal and myself in tow. Dhun Dhora had also made it to Jodphur from their desert home. Both bands brought tunes and songs and over a period of two weeks they played together, experimented, laughed, debated and recorded.

The studio was rigged in the 17th century Chokelao Palace, formerly the Maharaja’s guest quarters, in a room painted in stunning floor to ceiling murals. Not your average recording space.

Suffice to say there were many challenges. Not least the 40 degree heat that was melting us, the instruments and even some of the Indians.

Shooglenifty had to work with adjusting their instruments to singer Dayam’s ‘sa’ – a tuning that suits the resonance of his voice. This meant that they had to tune down just over a quarter of a tone, making the instruments behave and sound unusual. For Dhun Dhora, the experience of shortening their tunes to fit with the recording was curious, but something they very quickly adapted to.

The Shoogles know that they just took a few steps into the very deep well of Rajasthani music and provided Dhun Dhora with only an introduction to what they know of their own traditions and influences (it would probably take a lifetime to do otherwise and we just had two weeks). As Ewan says ‘Dhun Dhora’s music contains many facets. There’s chaos and beauty, bravado and respect, moments of ear splitting madness, deep universal understanding, and extreme calm. It’s wild, free, bright and bold.’ I could easily describe Shooglenifty’s essence in similar terms.

Looking back, these were beautiful, magical days, full of humour and learning, but when we left with the hard drive of tunes and songs, no one was really sure what had been captured. Meticulous editing, and inspired mixing by Ben Seal and the Shoogles, has revealed an incredibly special and unbelievably moving work. It’s a skilfully balanced collaboration where I think both bands are faithfully represented. And if you listen carefully, you’ll know that Angus and Roshan are in there too.

I’m not often moved to superlatives, but as I listen to the last note of Written in Water drifting away, I find a wee bit of nirvana remains. And this time I’m definitely not talking about a veggie restaurant …

Jane-Ann Purdy, Shooglenifty’s manager | June 2018

About the tracks

BOVAGLIE’S PLAID
Trad Scotland

After some 40 hours of travelling – four flights followed by an eight hour drive across Rajasthan – we arrived at the Mehrangarh Fort. This was October 2015 and we were going to play at Jodhpur Riff Festival. In a cool, peaceful courtyard at dusk with the swifts flying overhead, Angus stopped us in our tracks with this beautiful tune. We were very lucky to be recording, especially when Dayam answered him by singing a brief two-line poem in the form of an alaap. A very special moment.

HICHKI
Trad Rajasthan

This track starts with the Shoogles’ version of a traditional Rajasthani tune, then we let the experts take over… Hichki means hiccups!

JOG YER BONES
Avalu (Trad Rajasthan) / Jump Yer Bones (Laura Jane Wilkie)

Jog Yer Bones is based on a recording of Roshan Khan singing Raag Jog ‘Sufi-style’ into Ewan’s iPhone (listen out for him in the mix). It’s paired with a great new tune, Jump Yer Bones, written by Laura to gee up her fiddle class. Already a firm favourite with live audiences and readers of Songlines!

A’BHRIOGAIS UALLACH
A’Bhriogais Uallach (Trad Scotland) / Raag Des (Trad Rajasthan)

A’Bhriogais Uallach is a humorous ‘puirt a beul’ (mouth music) originating in 19th Century South Lochboisdale in South Uist. It mocks ‘the trouser’ as it tells the story of getting a pair made by the tailor. The wearer found them so big and ridiculous that he disappeared inside them! Kaela is joined on this track by Dayam and Sardar singing Raag Des.

DEAD END GLEN
Dead End Glen (Ewan MacPherson) / Saawariyo Parinaam Meera Ka (Trad Rajasthan)

Ewan wrote Dead End Glen for the narrow valley of Balquhidder where the wonderful music sessions at Mhor 84 take place. Transported to the desert by Dhun Dhora it blends with a Shooglified version of Saawariyo Parinaam Meera Ka, a song about Meera Bai who was a mystic poet in 16th century Rajasthan.

DHORIYE
Milleadh Nam Bràithrean (Trad Scotland) / Dhoriye (Trad Rajasthan)

Kaela learned Milleadh Nam Bràithrean from the singing of the late Ishbel MacAskill. The story is told through the eyes of a woman whose beloved is murdered by her own brothers. She has been betrayed by her sister, whom she curses. Its Rajasthani counterpart Dhoriye, sung by Dayam, is also a lament. It is the story of a newly married girl who is missing her family and way of life, having had to leave her desert homeland.

NIGEL’S ESCAPE
Nigel Escapes The Fort (Ewan MacPherson) / Gypsy’s Dance (Donald MacLeod)

Here’s to you, Nigel Richard! Nigel has been travelling to India to play with master musicians for years before we followed in his wake. This tune is dedicated to one of the most exhilarating lifts home Ewan ever had. Nigel was driving! The second tune, by Pipe Major Donald Macleod, was learned from Jim Brown in Balquhidder, and given the full dhol drum treatment by Dhun Dhora.

WRITTEN IN WATER
Written In Water (Ewan MacPherson) / Saawan Aayo (Trad Rajasthan)

This is one for Angus whom we all keep seeing out of the corners of our eyes:  smoking by the water at Glenfinnan, driving a 2CV on Skye, walking by the road in Fort William, sitting in corners of crowded bars, visiting us in our dreams and keeping our souls full of happy memories. It’s followed by Saawan Aayo which was Dayam and Sardar’s response to hearing Written In Water. It says, “Look, beloved, the rains have come …”

All tracks arranged by Shooglenifty, Dhun Dhora, and Laura Jane Wilkie.

All titles copyright Shoogle Music Ltd except Jump Yer Bones (MCPS/PRS) and Gypsy’s Dance (MCPS/PRS).

© & ℗ Shooglenifty Ltd 2018. All rights of the producer and copyright owner reserved.  Unauthorised copying, re-recording, broadcasting, public performance, hiring or rental of this recording prohibited.

Credits

SHOOGLENIFTY

Angus R Grant | Fiddle (track 1)

Ewan MacPherson | Mandolin, tenor banjo, jaw harp

Garry Finlayson | Acoustic and electric 5 string banjos, EBow

James Mackintosh | Drums, percussion, bass (track 8)

Kaela Rowan | Vocals

Malcolm Crosbie | Guitars

Quee MacArthur | Basses

with

Laura Jane Wilkie | Fiddle (tracks 2 – 8)

DHUN DHORA

Chanan Khan Manganiyar | Dhol, dumbek

Dayam Khan Manganiyar | Vocals, harmonium

Ghafoor Khan Manganiyar | Khartal

Latif Khan Manganiyar | Bhapang, morchang

Pyaru Khan Manganiyar | Dhol

Roshan Khan Manganiyar | Vocals (track 3)

Sardar Khan Langa | Sarangi, vocals

Sattar Khan Manganiyar | Dhol

Swaroop Khan Manganiyar | Dhol, dholak

Recorded by Ben Seal at the Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
And in Craigrothie, Scotland

Additional recording by Shooglenifty

Recording of Angus R Grant by Ewan MacPherson at the Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

Mixed and produced by Ben Seal and Shooglenifty

Mastered by Calum Malcolm

Managed by Jane-Ann Purdy

Photography by Don Coutts, Douglas Robertson, Ewan MacPherson, James Mackintosh.

Cover design by Lewis Bilsland

Supported by Creative Scotland, Jodhpur RIFF, the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Cosima Von Saros.

Catalogue no: SHOOGLE 18018

Our mandolin player Ewan MacPherson (pictured above with Latif Khan Manganiyar) on the background to our forthcoming album …

In 2012, I played a showcase gig with Kaela Rowan and James Mackintosh at Celtic Connections. After the show we met some representatives from a festival in Rajasthan who had missed our gig, but wanted to hear Kaela’s music. They invited us to go and play a few songs back at their hotel. I couldn’t make it as I had to go to play another gig. As luck would have it Kaela and James went and played for them and were surprised and delighted to be invited out to play at Jodhpur Riff in October 2012. I couldn’t go…

I went round to visit them after they got back and they were bursting with excitement about their trip. I was handed spice mixes and tried pickles they had brought back. They showed me some exotic new rugs on the wall and some stunning photos of north India.

A year later they were invited back, but this time they took myself and Patsy Reid too. After three extraordinary days meeting, playing music and drinking delicious sweet chai with some of the most incredible musicians from the Thar desert we walked on the main stage to perform a brand new collaboration.

The Jodhpur Riff stage is located in the main courtyard of a 500 year old Rajput fort. It’s called Merangarh (or sun fort ) and it sits 400 feet above the blue city of Jodhpur, on the hill of the birds. It was there under the full moon, with the local maharajah in the front row,  that we played one of the most extraordinary concerts I’ve ever been lucky enough to take part in.

Rajahstani folk musicians don’t really have the word ‘arrangement’ in their musical vocabulary; they are the most in the moment players I have ever known. They give 100% whether they are in a small rehearsal room in the outskirts of the city or on the main stage in front of 2,000 people. It’s chaos and beauty, bravado and respect, moments of ear splitting madness and extreme calm. We all felt the full effect of their heritage. Our own music felt square and regulated, whilst theirs was wild, free, rough, bright and bold. These people are giant musicians and we were very much awestruck by their musical mastery.

We learned a few of their tunes and songs (they sing in their local language Marwari). We tried to teach them some of our tunes and songs. And we discussed a variety of ways to collaborate without being able to play each other’s music, whilst understanding the underlying soul and intention. We watched in amazement as they argued and laughed about which uncountable, super complicated break should happen here, which alap should go there and who should call the tehai. It was organised chaos: beautiful, magical days, full of humour and learning. And there were moments of sober realisation about what we were actually doing.

We walked on stage with a rough collection of Gaelic songs, Scottish tunes and some Marwari song names written on our set list, not really knowing what was going to happen.

We needn’t have worried, I usually get a little nervous before gigs, but despite everything, travel, heat and trying to get our heads around this new music, it was one of the most gently powerful, beautiful and moving gigs. We felt so calm, almost meditative and in the moment with our new friends.

The next year we went back with Shooglenifty and did it all over again … and again the next year. In 2015, over a few beers in a rooftop restaurant, appropriately called Nirvana, we decided to record an album in Jodhpur with a group of eight of these amazing Marwari musicians. By this point they had organised themselves into a band going by the name of Dhun Dhora, meaning literally ‘music of the dunes’.

We had planned to go to Rajasthan in 2016, but then our esteemed compadre Angus Grant fell ill and plans were put on hold. We looked at ways to record the album in Scotland, but before the wheels could be put in motion we lost Angus, pretty much at the exact time we would have been back in India with Shooglenifty for a third year.

Unsuprisingly everything was upside down for a while, but slowly we came to the realisation that we had to go back and finish what we had started with Angus. There had been loss on the Rajasthan side too, one of our new friends, an amazing man called Roshan Khan, who played a mean dholak, died in a car accident a few months after Angus.

So, in October 2017 we found ourselves once again back in Rajasthan about to record an album which had taken on a whole new meaning. We had some amazing days recording in the royal guest rooms in the fort and staying within its awe-inspiring walls.

The recording wasn’t without its difficulties, however. The heat damaged instruments, some of the band fell ill and weren’t available to record all the time, and there were computer crashes. When we had finished the last day, we were not sure what kind of an album we had in the can. It was only when we got it back home to the studio that we would know how everything was hanging together.

Last week we were in Fife finally making a start on mixing the album at Ben Seal’s studio. It took many days of work to get this recording in some shape, but what a shape it is! Working on the music has brought back a lot of amazing memories for all of us and the album is starting to sound bloody great. Even Angus and Roshan make their presence felt.

The result is something we couldn’t even imagine three years ago. And I can’t wait to share it with you.

Huge thanks go to Divya, Namrata, Govind, Sharon, Jane-Ann and everyone who made this possible.

Fingers crossed we’ve a few gigs in England and Scotland with our Rajasthani friends over the summer and there will be a documentary too following on. What a journey!

We have a few more days to raise funds to pay for the manufacturing of the album. Pre-order your copy here

Not so long ago, we sent all the Shoogles a questionnaire to fill in. To welcome Eilidh to the band we wondered how she would manage with our existential questions (pretty well as it turns out). Read on …

Why are you joining Shooglenifty?
It’s an honour to be asked! (And would be rude not to!)
What are you looking forward to most about being in the band?
Doing lots of high-energy, foot-stomping gigs.
What should audiences expect from the band’s forthcoming gigs in Edinburgh and Shetland?
Pyrotechnics.
What is your favourite Shoogle tune and why?
Venus in Tweeds. Angus and I were flatmates at the time the album came out and I got slightly obsessed with that tune, to the point where I had a dream in which it was being played by a full classical orchestra.
What is your favourite gig outfit?
Anything sparkly.
What would be your fantasy gig location?
Anywhere with sun, sea, sand and a party crowd.
Who would play you in Shooglenifty: The Movie?
Jimmy Crankie
 
Shooglenifty will headline Edinburgh Tradfest on Saturday 28 April and the Shetland Folk Festival – 3–6 May 2018. Tickets are available here >>

We are overjoyed that Eilidh Shaw has agreed to join Shooglenifty. Of course, some of you will have seen her playing with the band already … she lit up the stage at our Night For Angus last January, wowed the audience during a short English tour last May, and brought a spark to the proceedings at our good pal Mattie Foulds’s wedding in September. Best of all she is a West Highland fiddler with a playful, infectious energy who was taught by Aonghas Grant (our Angus’s father).

2017 was a very difficult year for us as we worked on recording projects started with Angus, but obviously missing his physical presence. However, as we get into 2018 and those projects are getting close to completion (more news to come on those soon), we’re feeling a lot more positive. Best of all we’re really looking forward to getting into some serious touring with Eilidh this year and next (see below for some gigs coming up soon). For those of you who’d like to know more about our newest Shoogle, here’s a potted bio to keep you going …

Eilidh Shaw is originally from the Argyllshire village of Taynuilt, where she was the youngest of four in a relentlessly musical family (her older brother is Donald Shaw of Capercaillie and Celtic Connections fame). Throughout her teenage years she played in the family dance band and was introduced to a wealth of west coast musicians, many of whom had gravitated to Edinburgh, and Eilidh soon followed suit – joining the fantastic session scene just as we were getting the band started.

She spent her twenties immersed in the musical melting pot of that time, sharing a flat (and many, many tunes) with none other than Angus R Grant. She joined The Poozies, with whom she still plays, formed eclectic alt-folk band Harem Scarem and prog-ceilidh innovators The Squashy Bag Dance Band, and was involved in a huge number of projects with musicians across the genres.

Although her fiddling style has remained firmly rooted in the West Coast of Scotland she plays regularly with Scandinavian, African, Breton and French musicians. Now living in West Lochaber she teaches fiddle, plays for many local dances and sessions, and runs the annual festival, Fèis na Mara, as well as various other fundraising events.

Interesting fact: as mentioned above Eilidh was taught by Angus’s dad, the legendary left handed fiddler and teacher, Aonghas Grant. Aonghas makes red tassels for the fiddles of his most outstanding pupils. Angus’s sister Fiona tells us that her dad’s first tassel went to Angus, and he made the second for Eilidh …

Our first gigs with Eilidh are at Edinburgh’s Tradfest on Saturday 28 April and the Shetland Folk Festival from 3-6 May. Hope you can join us then. There will be a party (all week long!).

Last June we got some great news. We had received funding from Creative Scotland to help us make an album with our Rajasthani collaborators Dhun Dhora at the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, and to also produce a documentary about the process. We should have been in celebratory mood, but our collective gut told us that there was something not quite right with our fiddle player Angus. Just over a month later we got the news we had been dreading. Angus was very ill indeed and the prognosis was dark: he wasn’t going to get better.

Shooglenifty gigs were being cancelled all over the place, our India trip was put on hold, and everyone was rallying round Angus and his family. When he died in October the outpouring of love from Shoogle friends and fans all over the world was quite overwhelming.

Thanks to Donald Shaw and everyone at Celtic Connections, we were able to focus our grief and the appetite for public tribute into a concert for Angus at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in January. 62 musicians – all people who had played with Angus at one time or another – came together for a gig that has already attracted legendary status.

Our manager was warned from the start that the concert should not over-run, and she had neatly programmed the show to finish at 10.30pm knowing that with the cast of characters on the bill, this was about as likely as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards travelling to a gig in the same car.

With half an hour to go there were parties going on in every dressing room backstage, fiddlers sessioning, mandolin players rehearsing, pipers warming up, Rajasthanis jamming with Galicians, and stories of Angus being shared in every corner. The documentary production crew, who had re-focused their energies into recording the gig, were squeezed into a backstage cupboard, and camera operators were taking position in the auditorium. Everything and everyone was where they should have been pre-show. And then, the fire alarm went off. So, at the time when the gig was due to start more than 2,000 people were standing in the street outside the Concert Hall.

Luckily gut wrenching time was kept to a minimum thanks to swift work by the fire brigade and everyone was back inside the building by 8pm. The joke of the night was that it was the ghost of Angus having a fly fag in one of the toilets that set off the smoke alarms.

The show finally began with an uncharacteristically seated Shooglenifty playing Adam Sutherland’s heartfelt new composition The Wizard, a tune inspired by Angus. The first half also included performances from our late fiddler’s niece Eva, his dad Aonghas, sister Fiona, representatives from various sessions he had been involved with over the years, and bands who wanted to pay their respects. The Shoogles and Duncan Chisholm closed the first set with a heartrending pair of tunes: Farewell to Nigg and Sileas. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. But from the moment the second half kicked off we were into party mode and there was just no stopping that juggernaut once it had started. As anarchic as the man himself, and every bit as spellbinding, the show finally ended with everyone on their feet chanting Angus’s name at 11.30pm. Numerous people missed their last train home, but since the after party went on all night this didn’t seem to be too much of a problem. It’s what he would have wanted …

Shooglenifty: A Night For Angus is available to stream or download on Vimeo on Demand. Proceeds from the video will contribute to the completion of a documentary about Angus and the band, with a percentage from each transaction going to Cancer Research’s work into prevention and treatment of oesophageal cancer.

Watch it here …

The video of the concert includes 90 minutes of Shooglenifty’s performance from 21 January and also features the following players:

Fiddle
Adam Sutherland
Charlie McKerron
Duncan Chisholm
Eilidh Shaw
Gavin Marwick
Laura Wilkie

Mandolin
Iain Macleod
Laura Beth Salter
Nick Prescott

Bass/percussion
Conrad Molleson

Percussion
Donald Hay
Mattie Foulds
Tom Bancroft
Aida Tarrio
Toby Shippey

Horns
Michael Owers
Toby Shippey

Pipes/whistles
Fin Moore
Manuel Amigo

Vocals
Dayam Khan Manganiyar
Heather Macleod
Olaia Maneiro

Morchang/percussion
Latif Khan Manganiyar

DJ
Dolphin Boy

For all those of you who are wondering what the Shoogles are up to right now and what the band’s plans are for the future, finally a little enlightenment…

The questions we’re getting asked the most are: ‘who is going to replace Angus?’ and ‘are you carrying on?’ The answer to the latter question is a simple one, ‘yes’. But right now, we’re not ready to replace Angus. He was someone so close to us and so immutable that to parachute someone directly into his shoes does not seem fair: to us, to those of you who love our music, and to that person. No matter how amazing they are, they will be instantly at a disadvantage in comparison to Angus, who was so much more than just our fiddler.

But in the interests of carrying on and some rather large items on our ‘to do’ list (see below), we will continue to work with special guest fiddlers. Those of you who made it to our Night for Angus concert at Celtic Connections will have seen some quite epic performances and, schedules allowing, we will continue to work with some of those extraordinary performers and a few others. To be quite clear though, we are not carrying out an extended audition process to find a new fiddler, rather collaborating with members of the extended Shoogle family to produce new work and delight our audiences.

This rather neatly leads us on to the aforementioned massive ‘to do’ list. Just before Angus found out that he was ill we had put in place, and received Creative Scotland funding for, plans for making a brand new album in Rajasthan with our friends in Dhun Dhora (the band we collaborate with at Jodhpur Riff), and to make a documentary about that process. All this activity was to have taken place in October 2016, and the album was to be launched at Celtic Connections in January. Those plans were put on hold and rearranged several times as we learned just how serious Angus’s condition was, and there was the slight matter of James ending up in intensive care for several weeks at the end of August. From July to October we were living on shifting sand.

We all wanted to make the album, but efforts to get Angus to record some of the new tunes he was working on were overtaken by his illness. He got to the point where he felt he couldn’t play fiddle well enough to be recorded. We knew he was playing about with garage band on the new iPad that we bought him, and could still work on his tunes on the mandolin, but at that point he hadn’t let anyone hear his new compositions.

October was fast approaching. No one wanted to travel to India without Angus and he really wanted to be well enough to go with us. But in the end it was not to be. Our friends at Jodhpur Riff made rapid contingency plans to replace the band at the festival, and Angus passed away on 9 October 2016.

So our show at Celtic Connections became a tribute to our much loved and admired fiddler, and we used some of our funding to film the gig. This footage will form a stand alone video of the concert and will also be used as part of the documentary. It will take a more winding path now than originally planned.

As for the album it is our hope to complete it this year. There are lots of tunes that we were working on with Angus that we want to include. We got hold of his iPad after he died, but sadly the tunes he was composing could not be found. It seems that he had not figured out how to save his work.

As part of the wider album project we will travel to Santiago in Spain in August to play some gigs and most likely do some recording with our friends from A Banda das Crechas, whom we have known and played with since the early days. And we will finally get to Rajasthan in October to play with Dhun Dhora, whom we hope will be very much part of our future. We will also record with them, as planned, in the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.

Our immediate plans are to finish the mix for the video of our performance at A Night for Angus and release it on Vimeo. We know many of you are looking forward to seeing it. The proceeds from the video will help us complete the documentary, and also act as a fundraiser for Cancer Research.

We will continue to play live too – you’ll see that we already have some gigs scheduled in England with Eilidh Shaw in May. Playing live is extremely important to us and we’re really looking forward to this short tour with Eilidh, and some other dates that are still in the planning stage. It’s crucial for us to feel the reaction of you, the audience, to our new material and to hone it in that setting. The last thing we want to become is a tribute band to ourselves, just hammering out the old favourites (but don’t worry we’ll still be playing them!).

As you would expect our collective mood is subject to wild fluctuations and there’s no doubt that this year will not be plain sailing for the band. However, just last week we received an unexpected boost when Angus’s sister Fiona found a couple of new tunes that he had been working on, stashed on her old computer. It seems he had worked out a way to save them after all.

So there’s a lot to do, we need to salvage those precious tunes from Fiona’s rickety old PC, arrange and develop tunes we’ve been working on for a while, write new tunes, play more gigs, record an album, and make a documentary (phew!). The whole year will be devoted to that effort, to working with collaborators, old and new, and to working through our grief, which is, by turns, firing up and backfiring on all this effort. It’s melting our heads at times but as Angus once said, if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.

Shooglenifty will be appearing at: Saltaire Live (Victoria Hall) on Friday 26 May, The Water Rats, London on Saturday 27 May and at Lewes Con Club on Sunday 28 May. Tickets and details are here

Shamless plug no 2: our totally retro and totally cool ACID CROFT t-shirts are now on sale. Get yours here

 

 

 

One of Angus’s former pupils, Deirdre Armstrong, offers her own appreciation of his rather individual teaching style …

Angus has been a magnificent figure in my life. I joined a fiddle class at the Edinburgh Adult Learning Project years ago in the 90s and in walked Angus. He took us off on a fantastic, glorious, unusual journey that will never stop …

What a privilege to be in that class.

He was a man of few words but what he said remained imprinted on my memory: teaching gems; a few words which summed up the history behind a tune; brief advice; cryptic jokes.

We were moved and mesmerised by his playing and laughed so much in his classes. Inspired, we longed for that tone, that power, that beauty.  We listened, practised and strived as he led us deeper into the music. Over the months in one of his mixed instrument classes the mandolin player, tin whistle players and guitarists abandoned their instruments and started playing the fiddle!

He would play a slow air for us to learn and we choked back tears; all the west coast Gaelic heritage was there and we could feel it. West Highland music shone through everything – he built on his roots from learning at home and was so open to music from around the globe. “A good tune is a good tune whether it’s from Kyle or Kiev” he would say.

Shooglenifty really got going about that time and I listened in Christie’s Bar, danced madly to them when they moved to La Belle Angele and other Cowgate clubs, and I’ve tried to catch every gig within reach ever since. More recently I would occasionally hear Angus in sessions in Edinburgh, courteous and encouraging to younger players whom he helped to blossom.

There is now a hole in my life and in the lives of so many. But alongside the sadness I am very grateful to have learned so much from him. 

I love those meandering and hypnotic tunes like Nordal Rumba, exciting rants like Delighted, dancey quirky ones like Venus in Tweeds and Crabbit Shona. We were always compelled to dance as soon as the band got going.

‘No one is going out of here without the rhythm’ he would say in the class. ‘If you’ve got a problem with the notes go back to the rhythm and you’ll get it’. And the rhythm was all about dancing and like the pied piper he could make us all dance!

As Roy in our fiddle class said “Shooglenifty should be on the NHS!” We came out of every gig glowing, euphoric, exhilarated and in love with the world. The band’s magic never failed. They all gave it everything whether there were ten people or a totally packed festival.

Angus was the best ambassador for Scottish culture without trying – infectious dance rhythms and hilarious intros to tunes said it all.

I respected the way he lived outside the system – he never got incorporated. What a generous free spirit!