90slabelleposter_wee2No body can put an exact date to the day that Shooglenifty was born. The year, however, is not in doubt. In 1990 Angus R Grant, a rebellious highland fiddler, Malcolm Crosbie, a guitarist who got his start in a semi-glam New Wave combo, and James Mackintosh, a drummer with groove going spare went busking in Spain. The trio experimented with the traditional tunes Angus had known since knee-high to a fiddle stand, and twisted them into the germ of something new and exciting. When they returned to Edinburgh they added banjo, bass and mandolin to the mix and that germ began to grow. The band rehearsed like mad, and played in pubs around the city until Martin Coull, the manager of the newest club in town, La Belle Angele asked them if they’d like to play his joint.

“The first gig at La Belle was six punters and an electric bar fire,” remembers Malcolm. “It was the middle of winter and we just huddled round the centre of the floor.” It was perhaps an inauspicious start, but having great faith in the band, Martin turned this one off gig into a residency, the Shoogles built their audience, and by the end of the year it was an essential weekly event for progressive folkies and energetic dance fans alike. Check out the poster above, a remnant from that time, by original Shoogle bass player Conrad Ivitsky Molleson.

It would not be unfair to say that the Shoogle sound evolved in La Belle, and many of the band’s early fans have fond memories of that time. The residency led to the band’s first album, Venus in Tweeds, and the launching of the Shoogles onto the international scene. Since then Shooglenifty has entertained audiences from a few hundred in highland village halls to tens of thousands in festival fields. Back home in Edinburgh La Belle Angele became one of the city’s hippest haunts, but sadly burned to the ground in the fire of 2002.

Fast forward to 2015, and La Belle Angele lives again in its original location of Hasties Close, just off the Cowgate, (after a very long wait it finally reopened in November 2014). Shooglenifty is celebrating 25 years and where better to have the biggest, banging party to celebrate that milestone, but the club that launched them on their way.

Shooglenifty’s 25th Anniversary Party and CD Launch is at La Belle Angele on Saturday 16 May 2015 at 11pm. Get your tickets here!

Last night (Tuesday 20 January 2015) at the CCA we were joined on stage by our Rajasthani friends for the BBC Radio Scotland Celtic Connections Show. The clip below features Someone’s Welcome to Somewhere from our soon to be released album, and then the drummers asked to play our fastest tune, so Venus in Tweeds it was (top clip)!

You can listen to the whole show here.


90s line-up Shooglenifty featuring (l-r) Iain Macleod (mandolin), Conrad Ivitsky (Molleson) (bass), James Mackintosh (drums), Garry Finlayson (banjo), Angus R Grant (fiddle), Malcolm Crosbie (guitar).

We’re all delighted to be playing the Scottish Trad Awards aka Na Trads in Inverness on Saturday 13 December 2014, writes James Mackintosh. And because we’re about to celebrate a very special anniversary, we will be reuniting our original line up for one night only.

We’re kicking off our our quarter century celebrations a little early at Na Trads, so for Auld Lang Syne we’ve invited original members Iain Macleod and Conrad Ivitsky Molleson to join Angus, Garry, Malcolm and I for a set or two … crash helmets at the ready!

Then the 2014 line up will take to the stage including, after several months of tough initiation, the now fully fledged mando Shoogle Ewan MacPherson, alongside honorary Shoogle Laura Beth Salter. With special guest Kaela Rowan on vocals and Shoogle stalwart Quee Macarthur on bass, we’ll play out the night with tunes and songs from our forthcoming album, The Untied Knot. 

Luke Plumb’s absence gives  particular cause for celebration as his excuse is imminent fatherhood, so we’d like wish him and the family all the very best, and we look forward to meeting the wee Plumb in Australia very soon.

In the meantime we’re looking forward to Shoogle Max at Na Trads. Hope you can join us. Get tickets here.

Australia 2014/5 line-up

Just click on the link and download your own Shooglenifty 25th Anniversary tour poster. Feel free to print it out and stick it up somewhere. And if you feel so inclined take a pic of your poster and post it on our Facebook page. Would be great to see where they end up!

Shooglenifty – Australia Tour 2014/5

Check out what the RIFF camera made of the finale of our performance with the Master Musicians of Rajasthan in Jodhpur in October 2014, stay tuned to the end for a bit of interpretive dance from James Mackintosh. Yes really!


DSCF5169_webWe are really looking forward to the Scottish Trad Awards this year because we are going to be playing and anticipating our 25th Anniversary Year, coming up in 2015. What we didn’t know when we agreed to play was that two of our band members would be nominated for awards … in the same category!

Our amazing new mandolin player Ewan MacPherson has been nominated as instrumentalist of the year, as has our very modest (and great) drummer and percussionist James Mackintosh. Both are fabulous and highly acclaimed musicians, and both are essential elements of the Shooglenifty sound.

Here’s what James said about his nomination: “I’m surprised and delighted to be nominated … looking forward to the gathering, tunes, friends and craic.” And Ewan had this to say, “The level of musicianship is amazing on the scene just now, I could pick any number of players at random who are all worthy of this category. So it’s great to be working amongst such good friends and musicians.”

I think you’ll agree it’s a dilemma. So all we can say, is it’s up to you. Read the info and make your choice, and hopefully see you at the gig on Saturday 13 December at Inverness Leisure.  You can buy tickets here

Thanks to top video whiz Rupert Shanks for this video filmed at one of our Famous Spiegeltent gigs in August. If you were there, see if you can spot yourself!


Thanks to James for bringing these pix home of the guys enjoying their time at the recent RIFF Festival in Jodhpur.