We know that many of you are already enjoying our new album, Acid Croft Vol 9. We have had a lot of admiring messages about the art work, so we thought you might like to know a bit more about the artist behind the cover image, Ashley Cook.

Ashley is an acclaimed printmaker who is a double-graduate from the Glasgow School of Art. Her work is found in collections all over the world, and in Scotland you can find it at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, the Scotland Office, Creative Scotland, Arts in Fife and the Bank of Scotland among many other private locations.

The image chosen for the cover of the album is entitled The Gift of Abundance and was found by Quee when we were looking for visual inspiration to go with the music. The image itself resonated strongly with the band as it incorporates many echoes of former albums, not to mention a very ‘acid’ colour palette!

Here’s what Ashley says about this work:

“The Gift of Abundance was made early 2014.  Leading up to Indyref, Scotland seemed to have come alive with a newfound sense of identity. The immediate world around me seemed full of optimism with a landscape of possibilities opening up wide, the word on the lips of nearly all the artistic community was YES, it felt like a golden moment. 

“The Gift of Abundance is a nod to Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, the Goddess of love borne in on the sea. Butterflies are a symbol of transformation, change could be difficult but may hold a future with more hope, the tartan stockings, and sporran; emblems of the souvenir shop identity of the Scots known the world over, the thistles, stag antlers and fish our flora and fauna. A small country, but rich in natural resources – Scotland has the gift of abundance. 

“I am really delighted to have this image on Acid Croft Volume 9, I’ve been playing my copy in the studio and the music can transport me back to living in that golden moment of early 2014 again.”

If you would like to buy any of the prints shown above please visit Ashley’s Etsy shop Ashley Cook’s work is featured in a new exhibition launching on 25 September at Scotland Art in Bath Street, Glasgow Highly recommended!

We know that lots of you have been loving our Caravan Up North video. Here’s a short insight into what on earth we were thinking when putting it together, written by James.

The Caravan Up North set contains a tune by Ewan and a traditional song. The tune was inspired by the title of a highland tour that our erstwhile agent was trying to put together in 2014. The Caravan Up North Tour! We kid you not. The song, An Robh Thu ‘Sa Bheinn or Were You in the Hills? is about losing cattle in the hills, check out the song lyrics here >>

We had planned to get together in July and make some more videos for the new album in the highlands. However, that was logistically difficult just coming out of Covid restrictions so instead we put together plans to do another ‘lockdown’ style video in our respective locales (see Black Dog – for previous form!). The theme was camping and generally holidaying in the highlands. Each band member was also instructed to film themselves playing the track against a grassy background with the hope that we could kind of make it look like we were all in the same field! 

Malcolm’s brainwave was to add the toy car and caravan scenes and his daughter Phoebe did a fabulous job painting the backdrop. The fort and garage are actually toys that Malcolm’s grandfather made for him. Everyone sent their contributions to our manager Jane-Ann, who edited it all together. She had the idea of trying some rudimentary green screen placing Malcolm inside his own toy scenes.

My personal inspiration was those slightly surreal videos the Old Grey Whistle Test made for bands that couldn’t be in the studio. In the end though, each band member had their own ‘style’ making the final edit look like Tom Weir meets Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention! Necessity is the mother of invention after all.

Caravan Up North is available on our brand new album Acid Croft Vol 9, buy your copy here >> And if you haven’t seen the video yet, you can find it here >>

Read all about our ninth studio album, coming soon …

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?
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:

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

Iain Macleod
Laura Beth Salter
Nick Prescott

Conrad Molleson

Donald Hay
Mattie Foulds
Tom Bancroft
Aida Tarrio
Toby Shippey

Michael Owers
Toby Shippey

Fin Moore
Manuel Amigo

Dayam Khan Manganiyar
Heather Macleod
Olaia Maneiro

Latif Khan Manganiyar

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!

For those of you who couldn’t make Angus’s send off on Tuesday 18 October 2016, we thought you might like to read James Mackintosh’s heartfelt eulogy to his brother Shoogle

Welcome everyone, all of you who has come to pay their respects to Angus and his family today, I’m sure their spirits will be buoyed by so many friends offering condolences and support.

Aonghas Snr has asked me to say a few words about our dear old pal, and it is my privilege to do so, on behalf of myself, and the rest of the band.

Firstly, I must pay tribute to his sisters, particularly Fiona, who ever since his illness became apparent, bravely and selflessly cared for Angus at home, supporting him in so many ways, and allowing him to have his final wish, that he remain there, right up until his passing.

We must also thank his GP who went beyond the call of duty, and all the nurses from St Columba’s Hospice who did their very best to make him as comfortable as possible throughout these last few weeks.

I know that all of the families friends are rallying around, and will continue to offer Fiona, and her family, the love and support they will need over the coming months and years.

It wasn’t until the spring of this year we all finally realised that Angus was profoundly ill. A private man, he kept that illness hidden until it could no longer be mistaken.

When, in August, he was given the prognosis that his cancer was inoperable, he declined to undergo radio or chemotherapy. Instead he was determined to try and best prolong his life and maintain the quality of his life with more natural remedies.

His strength and his stoicism were remarkable throughout his illness, as was his determination and commitment to honour as many gigs and engagements as he could with the band, right up until the point where it became physically impossible for him to play.

A recent tribute from our friend Balazs Hermann who played bass guitar during one of Angus’s last concerts, illustrates his bravery and commitment beautifully:

“He seemed quite weak that day before the gig, and we all knew then how ill he was, and yet when we stepped on stage he transformed completely!

“He looked strong, and had an oozing charisma about him. He was free from all that burden while he played!

“His sorcery made everybody get up and dance, and freed us from all our little worries!

“After the gig he kindly thanked me for learning the material.

“It was a great lesson of love , and healing music , and it has made a mark on who I am today.”

Angus the sorcerer.

Many people who knew and loved his quirky and shamanistic stage persona might not have known the quieter side of the man.

I believe Angus chose the philosophy that he was the master of his own fate, and therefore everything depended upon him.

If he ever worshipped a deity, his  deity was nature.

From our teens, roaming the glens of Lochaber or sailing the lochs of Moidart, to gazing out at a sunset in the South China Sea, to marvelling at the constellations in the Southern Hemisphere, or gasping in awe, as yet another incredible vista came into view as we rounded a bend in the Rocky Mountains. He never ran out of wonder, superlatives, nor it has to be said, expletives, to express his joy and amazement at the beauty of the natural world.

I can recall him in sitting, in his element, on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, in a rocking chair, glass of wine in one hand, jazz cigarette in the other, gazing in wonder as the tall pines by the ocean swayed gracefully in the breeze.

“James, look,” he said, “They’re dancing  … have you ever seen such a beautiful dance”.

Angus the animist.

He never took our adventures for granted, and was always grateful for the opportunities to travel to new lands, and to meet and make new friends.

Throughout our travels, he saw beauty in diversity and was always excited by new experiences, always willing to be surprised and learn.

I believe he had a true appreciation of the nature of the world.

He was respectful of those who choose to follow their particular religion seeing truths in all of them, in that way perhaps his philosophy was akin to that of Bhuddism.

“There are some who prefer bread, and some who prefer rice. Each has different tastes, some eat rice, some eat flour, but there is, and should be no quarrel.”

In many respects though, he adhered greatly to the tenets of the Christian faith he was brought up in, respect for others, and an acknowledgement of differing perspectives.

He did his best to try to tread as gently and benignly as possible.

He didn’t chase acclaim, and he certainly didn’t seek to accumulate wealth or possessions, as he knew those couldn’t buy him happiness. As long as he had enough to get by, and a good book, which he would always pass on, he was content, as he knew that true wealth was accumulated elsewhere.

A mischievous and rebellious irreverence streak could often appear too though, more of which later …

I believe that music was Angus’ communion.

He was never more delightedly in his element than sitting in a session, or wee ceilidh, surrounded by friends, into the small hours, playing whatever instrument came to hand, and leading the assembled throng through a rousing version of Little Feat’s Willing, the Grateful Dead’s China Doll, or on very special occasions, and here shone that mischievous irreverence I mentioned earlier, a medley of Freddie Mercury songs sung in the call and response style of a Wee Free Psalm … Thunder bolts and lightning indeed.

As the hours passed, you  knew instinctively, that if it was “Willing O’clock”, it was already well past your bedtime, but invariably, the following morning Angus would be at breakfast, proudly proclaiming himself as having been “the last man standing “.

Of course his love of partying took an inevitable toll, but Angus knew the odds, and he shared more love, and packed more joy and fun into his 49 and a half years than many can do in 80.

I believe Angus will have passed through the eye of the needle with consummate ease.

His old friend Tina Cleary of Auckland, New Zealand, said yesterday:

“He was truly a man of music. A poet writer, a thinker, compassionate, deeply romantic and one of the funniest men I’ve ever known. His wit could silence a loud bigot or lift a shy child into laughing and joining him in a tune.”

Over the last few months he gave occasional insights into how he saw his place in the world.

He felt that the simple questions – “What is it I do when I go out to work? What’s my role in life? Do I make people happy or not ? – were important ones.

The answer that came was reassuring.

He was an entertainer, undertaking the very important role –spreading joy and happiness.

Amidst all of those myriad nights of music and dancing, he gave people the rare opportunity to  break the ice, shed their worries, inhibitions and tensions,  and often reach a state of pure and unadulterated mutual joy. He believed this condition is when we are at our very best, and surely as mother nature intended.

He also cheekily speculated on how many happy unions had been kindled during some of our concerts over the years. We know of a few happy couples who met during Shooglenifty concerts, who have gone on to raise happy families.

Hearts were ignited …

As Chloe Goodyear Director of the Woodford Festival in Australia illustrates, in a lovely tribute we received this week:

“Such wonderful memories of dancing to his fiddling, under bright starry skies, and in sweat-drenched venues in Brisbane. I know I’m one of so very many of those dancers for whom he poured out tunes that spurned on wonderful long crazy nights.

“I send deepest condolences, lots of love, and the warmth of all the hearts he helped to ignite here, amongst Woodfordians, to be with you during this time.”

I think perhaps I am about to make what will be a strong contender for the understatement of the century:

Angus liked to party!

Angus loved a party!

He served his “apprenticeship”, as he often put it, in his teens, playing tunes, and learning songs with his pals Iain Macfarlane, Kaela Rowan and Gogs Macfarlane and Graham Willowby, in their band Pennycroft. Their first big break was offered to them by Fergie Macdonald, a regular Sunday evening session over at his old bar at Mingarry. Where better for a young musician to learn the ropes and pay their dues.

I’m reliably informed that the troubadours would drive all the way home, through Glenuig to Glenfinnan, singing, and to the tune of Carrickfergus,

“I wish I was … in a car at Fergies”

Angus’ love of a good party is legendary, and he graduated with a diploma and a doctorate in the art  having learned from some of the great professors of our age. You know who you are.

When I reached Edinburgh and Art College, he appeared one summer and suggested we spend as much time busking as it would take to buy two return tickets to Amsterdam.

We managed this in less than three weeks, and set off on the adventure of a lifetime.

I returned after a few weeks to resume college, but Angus stayed out in Europe for some months, travelling throughout, studying under some of the greatest musicians and party animals in the land, and being inspired by a terrifying motorbike journey to write his iconic tune 250 to Vigo. He finally returned, in style, on a first class flight, courtesy of the Swiss Immigration Services. He had his partying diploma rolled up in his fiddle case, and took up residence once more under the living room table in my sister and I’s High Street flat.

His GP, whom we must thank for going those extra miles and showing Angus concern and kindness beyond the call of duty, recently observed:

“Angus certainly lived his life off piste, and that has to be respected.”

Given that he was a renowned fiddler in a popular touring acid folk combo, he otherwise managed to lead a remarkably anonymous existence, navigating his course well under the radar of conventional society and the establishment.

No mean feat in this day and age of social media, consumer profiling and celebrity worship.

Many friends from around the world knew that the most reliable way of reaching Angus was via his personal P.O. Box: The Shore Bar on the waterfront in Leith.

He was no man’s fool.

Where better than to stroll in, collect your mail, sit down, have a leisurely read, whilst enjoying a good pint of Guinness?

Angus did not own a mobile phone, in fact he said to me a couple of weeks ago:

“Can I state quite categorically, I do not, and never have, nor will I ever, own a mobile phone!”

This despite the best efforts of our long suffering manager Jane-Ann who recently tried to persuade him to use one, in case of an on the road emergency.

No beer backstage, for example?

In the early years, it seemed to us bandmates, and to his sister, that he truly believed soundchecks, interviews, rehearsals, tours, hotels and transportation, had all mysteriously coalesced through some great and mysterious cosmic alignment, and not the concerted efforts of many of his bandmates.  

Nor was he at all fond of social media.

Only last year he was horrified to learn that we had tracked him down to the Isle of Eigg, when he was spotted in the background of a friend’s picture in an online post.

The fact that he was only person at that particular fancy dress party not in fancy dress did make things a little easier though, that and that beard, his hat, and of course his fiddle.

He could be a very elegant man. Perhaps the living embodiment of “Shabby Chic”.

He sourced a seemingly endless supply of velvet jackets and flared jeans from Edinburgh thrift shops, and he adapted his clothes to suit whatever particular climate in whatever particular continent we happened to be in on any particular day.

Over the years, we witnessed him expertly perform several of his “trouserectomies”.

On arrival in Asia or Australia his jeans would prove too warm, so his solution was to simply cut them down to shorts with whatever implement came to hand.

I recall this causing a certain amount of consternation to the concierge at whatever venue we might be performing in. One particular occasion was at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi, when the doorman seemed very reluctant to believe that a man in such attire could possibly be performing in his hotel’s ballroom that evening.

Another favourite tale is the journey he once made home from our wonderful trip to Bali.

He boarded his flight to Edinburgh from Denpasar wearing a very colourful sarong, sandals and a tie dyed t-shirt. On arrival in Edinburgh it soon became apparent his luggage was lost in Heathrow. He cut a very dashing figure striding across the Meadows in Edinburgh through the snow.

A prouder moment for him was some years before on the set of the Film Rob Roy in Glen Nevis. He was the only man in the film who required neither make up nor costume. This was confirmed at the end of one day’s shoot, when a make up assistant approached him and tried to pull off his beard, believing it to be false, like those of all the other extras.

The vagaries of fashion held no interest for Angus.

Someone recently defined cool thus:

“When you are about as far as possible as you can be, from being what is currently perceived as being cool, then you are truly cool.”

Angus was cool.

So, given his distain for social media and mobile communication devices, there is no small irony to the fact that the band, and Angus’s family have been inundated online and off,  with so many messages of love and condolence over the last few days.

I think he may be be wearing a wry smile knowing that he has been such a ubiquitous presence on Facebook in these few days after his passing.

The amount of love and respect that is contained within the many moving tributes we have received these last few days is testament to the high esteem in which Angus has been held by his many many friends, fans, and fellow musicians throughout Scotland and the world. We’ve compiled a book of them for Moira and the family, but I’d like to share just few excerpts with you just now.

The first  comes from the acclaimed Scottish playwright Matthew Zajac:

“Today we have lost, far too soon, a great Highland musician.  Angus Grant, the fiddle magician of Lochaber, the Shooglenifty sorcerer, the violin virtuoso who, with his wonderful band, led the Scottish folk renaissance into the most exciting new territory, with a legion of young musicians in tow. 

“Angus was my daughter’s first fiddle teacher, patient and always fun when she was 7 years old.  He was quiet and shy, though never on stage where his brilliance was both mesmerising and explosive. 

“What a loss. 

“Angus, I salute you. 

“Oidhche math mo charaid.”

From fellow musician Paddy Callahan:

“I was incredibly lucky to know Angus and I am a much better person for it. I first met him in Inverness and after a few encounters at various festivals, we became friends, who might not meet up often, but when we did it was fantastic.

“The advice, support and encouragement he gave to me as a young musician is something I will never forget. He was an inspirational person from whom a few short anecdotes on making his way in music helped me in so many ways.”

From the brilliant Tim Edy, guitarist and button box player:

“Life can be cruel and often the very best and most genuine human beings go too soon, I was so shocked to read about the loss of one of the true gents of the music scene, whenever I got to play in a session when he used to stay up in Birnam, or met him he was so lovely and always had time to have a natter, he was a true great.”

From Bruce Magregor, musician and Radio presenter:

“Angus Grant was an inspiration to so many of us as a musician , but away from the gigs he was also a hell of a nice guy. I remember being a 16 year old and seeing him and Iain Macfarlane in their band Pennycroft. They opened my ears to a new world.”

He went where he wanted and never followed the crowd.

A true legend of our music.

From percussionist Paul Jennings in the US:

“At the Shetland Folk Festival in 1995, my life changed forever.

“Shooglenifty and their frontman Angus had changed the playing field of Scottish traditional music and from where I was standing at the age of 13, I knew I needed to be part of it.

“Angus had a presence on stage like no other I have ever seen. Was he a rock star, was he a wizard, was he just a bad ass fiddle player who knew how to work a crowd?

“I think he was all of these things and more.

“Some years later I had the opportunity to tour with Shooglenifty. I will never forget this man and I feel blessed I got to play some great music with him. A true artist, musician, and one of my biggest inspirations.”

And from our good friend Luke Plumb, who shared the stage with Angus for many years, and sent us this message last night from Melbourne:

“For a period of seven years in amongst the albums and touring with the Shoogles and the Funky String Band, Angus and I were grounded together by the routine of a Monday night session at the Tap Inn in Birnam , and a Tuesday night at the Reverie bar in Edinburgh.

“Monday meant a rendezvous at Waverley to get the train together, fill in the sudoku and more often than not, remark at the grandeur of the Forth Rail Bridge, point out the boar in the farm just before Perth, and comment on how Perthshire was a slightly more genteel and unthreatening version of the Highlands.

“We’d watch University Challenge and then go to the session, and have more tunes in the bar afterwards.

“Tuesday night was more straight ahead, great tunes in a great venue with great folk. They were very different sessions but an intimate and grounding start to the week after whatever the Shoogly weekend had brought us.

“He was delighted to watch musicians at the sessions progressing from beginner, to having a good repertoire of tunes to join in with. He loved playing because when he did, the music came out and he knew how powerful that is.

“It was rare that these two days would pass without him saying to me, in wonder and almost surprise, ‘How lucky are we man. This is heaven.’”

From our friend and Shoogle family member Laura Beth Salter:

“What an amazing musician, friend to many and an incredible influence on a generation of musicians.

“I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to play music with and learn from Angus, to have heard tales of some of his crazy adventures around the world, to have been told the stories behind the music from the horses mouth  and to have been offered his gentle advice and to have shared a few drams.”

And from Somhairlie Macdonald, designer and musician:

“A hero of mine. Literally, if it had not been for him and all the others in Shoogles I may have never had the courage  to be myself and go after what I thought was cool, to embrace my own culture and distort it to make it my own. A staunch and unyielding individual, Angus was an artist that can be held in a timeless regard, like our poets and painters. An innovator and peerless front man with the stage craft of a rock God. A philosopher, a punk and a gentleman. My heart goes out to his family.”

What is clear within many of these heartfelt words, is that so many younger musicians were inspired in Angus’s wake, to be proud and fearless in expressing and continuing our traditions in new and innovative ways.

As a musician, Angus was surely part of what the late great Hamish Henderson called the “Carrying Stream”, and that he maintained the integrity of a tradition, keeping it vibrant and exciting to the next generation, is surely a very proud achievement.

Angus could never see music as a competition sport, only as a privilege to be shared with the next generation.

Brian Macalpine put it beautifully just yesterday:

“I hope that tomorrow is full of camaraderie, love and joy at the role Angus played in making Scotland a better place, where it’s cool to listen to trad music and that indeed trad music raises the bar in its evolution and survival. For all the sadness , I hope you are all surrounded with friendly faces all there not only to share in your loss, but to bring comfort to all that need it.”

From musician Mike Vass, all the way from The Celtic Colours Festival in Nova Scotia (or, as Angus liked to call it, the largest of the Outer Hebrides):

“I listened to Venus in Tweeds on repeat when I was a teenager, excitedly trying to make my fiddle playing swing like Angus’s. A huge inspiration to me.

“There was a lot of sadness in the air last night at the Celtic Colours festival club, I’ll be playing his tunes for years to come.”

Angus learned that unique swing from his father, as have scores, possibly hundreds of young fiddle players, learned from the teaching and generosity of a man in our midst who surely deserves the title of one of our great living national treasures.

Aonghas Grant senior.

I’m sure everyone will all agree that our lives, music and culture have  been enriched immeasurably by his efforts over the years.

Those efforts and energy are accumulating, and inspiring so many more young musicians, many of whom have been, and are being inspired in turn, by his son Angus.

I hope that in the sharing of these tributes, both Aonghas and Moira’s hearts will swell with pride, we all owe them both a debt of gratitude.

There is a quote from Dr. Vejay Verna, in this year’s programme for Jodphur RIFF, where had he not fallen ilI, Angus would have been today. I think it sums up his musical philosophy perfectly.

“It is not possible to turn back the tide of change. Our only hope can be to incorporate as much of the folk bequest into the web of life, with as little loss of innocence, spontaneity and vitality as may be possible.”

I believe our dear friend fulfilled these criteria in every respect, and indeed surpassed them joyfully, and I know myself and my bandmates to be so very grateful and fortunate to have shared so many magical adventures with our beloved friend.

I’ll sign off now with a couple of thoughts from two of Angus’s closest friends.

From his dear pal Teri Reilly:

“Angus meant something different to all of us: a son, a brother, a friend, or a lover.

“He was a thoughtful and thought-provoking man who loved the absurdities of life: from deep discussions on world politics, to trying to throw lemons into chimney pots and the infamous road party on Eigg.

“We all have Angus shaped holes in our hearts right now. But we also have the most wonderful memories to cherish and share.

“And music, to keep us shooglin’ and smiling along the way.”

Perhaps Luke Plumb speaks for many of us when he said last night in Melbourne:

“Angus existed in a condensed version of time that I know will slowly unravel, for the rest of my life, into endless joyous memories.”

And finally, in Angus’s own words, the words which he himself often spoke to audiences all around the world, as he departed the stage:

“One love … and  please remember, be kind to strangers.”