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

John Byrne has quietly become a national treasure over the past couple of decades. Arguably Scotland’s greatest living artist: he recently had a major retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery and several of his portraits are included in the gallery’s  permanent collection. He is also well known as a writer of plays, films, and TV series (Tutti Frutti anyone?). One of his best known works, The Slab Boys, has just completed a sell-out revival at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre.

Given such a stellar career you might wonder how we persuaded him to design the cover of Shooglenifty’s new album. It’s a simple story, the band bumped into him at a gig and, as a fan, he offered his services. Despite James losing his number not once but twice, the brief was (finally) despatched and the great man duly delivered (some months before the band as it turns out).

Getting Byrne to design the cover for The Untied Knot saw him continue a long love affair with music. In the 1960s and 70s he designed covers for folk luminaries Stealer’s Wheel, Gerry Rafferty, Billy Connolly, and Donovan. A less well-known commission was received from The Beatles in 1968, for the album that was to become The White Album. Byrne’s design wasn’t used, but reappeared in 1980 as the cover for The Beatles’ Ballads compilation.

To see The Untied Knot’s cover join this illustrious list is big deal for the Shoogles (all fans of Byrne’s work) and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you when the album is released at our special 25th Anniversary Concert and CD launch at La Belle Angele, Edinburgh on Saturday 16 May. We hope you will join us, and pick up your own copy. Tickets are on sale here.

Covers are reproduced below with kind permission of John Byrne RSA