Shooglenifty

Shooglenifty

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Hawke's Bay Arts Festival /
26 October 2016, Spiegeltent /
By Julie Cumberworth

The seven-piece, self-described “original acid-croft, hypno-folkadelic, ambient trad band” from Edinburgh eased us into their wild place, with the first two tunes lulling the crowd into familiar territory, Celtic music with bounce and melancholy. 

The young people in the audience were not lulled, however, from the get go they heard the call and cut loose. Dancing down the aisle to connect fully with the band and the music. The dance floor filled, and filled some more, with joyous stomping, twirling folks of all ages, liberated from the seating by the driving beats, the spirited singing and out-of-this-world energetic fiddling. While those still sitting – challenged by aching knees or inhibition – contented themselves with more sedate foot-tapping and head-nodding.

Even though the traditional roots of reels and jigs were evident throughout, weird and wonderful fusions from Rajasthan, Finland and Latin America were layered into this masterful musical cauldron.

The surprising infusion of Rajasthan folk sounds into such staunchly Highland spirits (met by the smattering of tartan in the crowd: kilts with T-shirts, pinafores and sashes) resulted in a passionate lament, which called up visions of the wandering Roma peoples.  While ‘East West’, a collaboration with Spanish band Tanxugueiras, with its lines “love will set you free” spun out across cultures to unite us all. But the sweetest offering to my ear was a piece composed by Angus, the beloved and now deceased original fiddle player. A rumba, inviting older bones to groove with rolling sounds and perhaps a little relief from the programme’s insistent, somewhat fierce tattoo (A bit unnerving if you’ve ever stood on the fields of Culloden!).  And in return the song for him, ‘Hunting for Angus’, which took us intimately by the hand through the places, nooks and crannies of the land these musicians call home.

From my seat, the greatest delight of the evening was witnessing the interaction of the dancing crowd with the band and their version of ‘folkadelic’ sound. The young: safe, happy and having fun.

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