2007 - 2020

From Swamptrash to Shooglenifty

Magnificent fiddler Angus Grant of Shooglenifty has died aged just 49.

A few years ago I programmed the Big Tent Festival in Fife. The Treacherous Orchestra, the Creole Choir of Cuba and Michael Marra shone in the rain but Shooglenifty headlined and stormed the day with a visceral connective joy. Many years before that they supported an Eigg benefit gig in Edinburgh and the band were collaborators in a thousand free gigs and benefits in-between, including appearing on our album Songs for Scotland in 2014 with ‘Glenfinnan Dawn’. Shooglenifty have been at the heart not just of the folk revival but of the cultural and political revival of scotland too, and Angus has been at the heart of Shooglenifty. The pioneering band seemed to be the personification of Emma Goldman’s edict: “A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.”

Tributes are flooding in.

Mathew Zajac writes:”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 char aid.”

Shooglenifty’s manager Jane-Ann has written a beautiful tribute here: “Shooglenifty filled most of Angus’s musical life over the past 26 years. He rarely played in other combos, and, latterly, he was happiest playing traditional music in pub sessions in the Highlands and around his adopted home of Edinburgh. Somewhat bohemian in outlook, Angus was more rigorously unconventional on stage, leading audiences in a merry dance for over 30 years, and influencing a whole generation of musicians. With his rock n roll swagger, he made fiddle playing cool.”

Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

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Comments (10)

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  1. Brian says:

    Aw bolleaux that’s awful news,Saw Shoogleniffty at Easdale Island and the best gig I’ve ever been to,w Jen they played at Glenuig village hall ,I’m going to stick Road to Bled on loud and drink a wee toast to the man.

  2. Kenneth Campbell says:

    Magnificent fiddler Angus Grant of Shooglenifty has died aged just 49. What a wonderful fiddler, he will be sorely missed.

  3. Drew Aitken says:

    Angus’s music will live on, as Shooglenifty will also. That’s the way he was and wished.

  4. Peter Burnett says:

    That’s really sad news, and thanks for writing this. Great choice of tunes too, posted up there, and I’m enjoying them right now . . .

    1. Chosen because they were two of his

  5. Peter Richardson says:

    Saw Shooglenifty in Ardfern a few weeks back . Angus was on fire , and its safe to say this was the best band our hall has seen. Tragic he has gone so young , still so much to give . The memories will live long of this great musician.

  6. Jake Willis says:

    What tragic news. I gave Angus and his fiddle a lift on the Mallaig road last year. I apologised for only taking him as far as Lochailort. He replied ‘it’s no problem, I know a lot of folk on this road’. Bidh sinn gad ionndrainn. Going to listen to Fitzroy Crossing in honour to a great musician…

  7. Black Rab says:

    I wasn’t aware of Angus Grant or Shooglenifty. The people dancing in the video sequence obviously love the music. I will make amends and familiarise myself with his work….play. Sorry you had to go so young Angus.

  8. April says:

    I remember doing my higher music performance unit – many many years ago. When i decided to do a contemporary piece I knew it had to be Shooglenifty. We’d known the guys for so long and albums like A Whisky Kiss and Venus in tweeds were the soundtrack to countless gatherings. So many amazing live gigs to remember too – but more just the culture of music up North and what they brought to it. Always fluid and experimental but also rooted in the living breathing history of Scottish folk music culture. So many sessions.
    Anyway I asked Angus for Two Fifty To Vigo translated to a piano piece – and he put it together then and there. It’s been years since I’ve seen him, but I will always remember his warmth and the mischief he made on that stage. Great article.

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