A quirky, eclectic musician leaves a lasting legacy

I’m sure many of my readers will never have heard of the Scottish Celtic fusion and ‘acid folk’ group Shooglenifty.  Their sound is a blend of Celtic and Scottish folk, international folk influences, and jazz and rock elements as well.  It’s an interesting mixture.  I don’t like all their pieces, but some are intriguing.

Sadly, their violinist, Angus Grant, died earlier this month.  (Despite sharing his surname, I doubt we’re related, except perhaps distantly through our mutual membership of the Grant clan in Scotland.)  The Telegraph reports:

Angus Grant, who has died of cancer aged 49, was the dreadlocked fiddler and leader of the Scottish band Shooglenifty, pioneers of a style of music variously described as techno ceilidh, acid croft or hypnofolkadelia – a blend of traditional folk with the rhythmic energy of contemporary dance music.

Shooglenifty’s unique twist on traditional Scottish tunes won them an extensive fan base not only in Scotland, but in continental Europe, the US and Australasia – even India, Malaysia and Japan.

They performed for Nelson Mandela, played with dhol drummers of Rajasthan at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and collaborated with Lebanese musicians in Beirut. In 1996 they became the first band to incite a stage invasion at Sydney Opera House and in 2000 they played in Cuba a whole year before the Manic Street Preachers’ more famous “Louder than War” gig.

. . .

Grant, described by one reviewer as a “bedraggled, bearded musical Merlin”, explained the band’s name as “just two nonsense Scottish words thrown together – ‘Nifty’ is obviously just nifty and ‘shoogle’ is to shake something. It’s saying you can have a good dance to it or have good sex to it”.

Having been brought up in the Scottish Highlands, as the band absorbed new global influences, it was he who kept it rooted to the traditional tunes of Scotland.

There’s more at the link.

The band memorialized their late violinist in this article on their Web site, and James Mackintosh provided a personal, insightful tribute here.  The latter in particular is well worth reading.  Angus appears to have been one of life’s characters;  not a classical hippie, but much more than a hippie, in his own unique way.  I hope the group can find someone to take his place and continue his legacy.

For those who don’t know the group, here are three of their pieces.  I’ve deliberately chosen live performances, even though the audio isn’t always the best, in order to convey the mood they could project almost at will. The late Angus Grant plays his violin in all of them.

First, a relatively traditional Scottish instrumental piece, ‘Tammienorrie’.

Next, a Celtic/jazz fusion number, ‘The Whisky Kiss’.

Finally, a collaboration with Indian folk musicians at a music festival in France, titled ‘The High Road to Jodhpur’.

Angus will be missed.  May he rest in peace – and may the heavenly choir receive adequate warning of what’s coming their way!


1 comment

  1. You're right, I've never heard of Shooglenifty, much to my chagrin. I love their style of music. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *