Jog Yer Bones – In Memory of Angus

I woke this morning (25th Mar) with the memory of my first Shooglenifty gig in my mind. The memory quickly gave way to a deep sense of gratitude to Angus Grant and the gift of music, freedom and joy that I have received from him over the years. Though I never met Angus in person, the Shoogler’s have been a sporadic, yet important backdrop to my life since my teenage years.

I am now engaged to be married to a women who learned fiddle from Angus and who’s mother’s close friendship to him inspired the Shooglenifty song Delighted (see the playlist) – my mother-in-law-to-be is a charming, wonderful and gregarious, flamenco dancer from Saville!

As if quietly guiding us, Shooglenifty was playing in the background when my fiancée and I first kissed!

My first Shooglenifty gig was in the 90s at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh – I was in my late teens. Somehow, in the peak of my punk metal phase, I had ended up with the Shooglers’s first CD, Venus in Tweeds in my possession and listened to it on repeat for a good few weeks. I never gave it any thought at the time, but looking back I connected with the music that Angus and the band were making in a way that cut through the commercial music bubble that I had pulled around myself.

About 10 years later, I had got my working holiday visa for New Zealand and was living on an eco village there that was set up by ex crew members of the Greenpeace ship, The Rainbow Warrior that had been sunk by the French Security Services in the 80s. On my birthday a package arrive which turned out to be Shooglenifty’s latest CD sent over to me by my mother!

More recently I have seen the Shooglers play in the Wee Red Bar, Temple Village Hall, The Black Isle and Portobello Community Hub (a free gig for the community!) and I have been blown away by the life, joy, energy and connection that the band bring forth.

So this is my playlist in memory of Angus, to brighten these strange and worrying times. It starts with the first song from the firs Shooglenifty album, Venus in Tweeds, released 30 years ago this year. With deep gratitude…

(Notes on the other artists: The Mae Trio I first experienced in a tiny bar in South West Cork and then again at a house gig in a flat on The Meadows in Edinburgh; Martyn Bennett – lost far too young and sorely missed; Mairi Campbell has been a music teacher to my fiancée; Steep Canyon Rangers and Hot Rize are some of my enduringly favourite artists. Julie I saw at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh last autumn.)

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  1. Jamie Jauncey says:

    Oh, Angus – who could silence a room with a few quiet strokes of his bow.

    Venus In Tweeds came out at at the time I came back to Scotland after 20 years in London. I’d left to the genteel strains of Shand and returned to the wild rhythms of Shooglenifty. I didn’t know what to make of them. Nor did I know that 10 years later I would be playing with Angus in two outfits, The Birnam Quartet and The Funky String Band. I moved to Birnam the same month as Angus, Luke Plumb and Anna-Wendy Stevenson started a session in the Birnam Tap pub, 200 yards from my new home. Hamish Moore, who had initiated the session, rang to say the piano was vacant. I almost ran down the road – and fell instantly under Angus’s spell.

    Those Monday night sessions were pure magic. Thanks to the generosity of hotelier, Alex Findlay, musicians heading north or south on the A9 were always welcome for a tune, a meal and an often slightly damp bed at the Victorian gothic Birnam Hotel. The session ran for five years and culminated in a final lock-in of about thirty musicians. I remember someone playing the cello on top of a table.

    Later Angus, Luke, Anna Wendy and I recorded an instrumental album of Burns songs, as The Birnam Quartet. And in 2007 Angus, Luke and I went to Australia to join singer/guitarist Pete Daffy and tour as The Funky String Band. Angus, with most of his worldly possessions in a carrier bag, his fiddle coated with an almost sedimentary layer of rosin, his gentleness and humour in conversation, his bewitching soulfulness in performance.

    Oh, Angus. How I, and everyone else lucky enough to come into your musical orbit, still miss you.

    And thank you to Michael Edwards for jogging not just my bones but my memory.

    1. Alistair Taylor says:

      Wonderful, Jamie. Thanks!
      Thanks also, Michael.
      Absolutely brilliant.

      I remember seeing Shooglenifty at Kingussie town hall, and thinking Angus was a musical shaman.

      1. Jamie Jauncey says:

        Indeed he was!

  2. Michael says:

    Correction: Venus in Tweeds was released in 94 or 95, depending which source you refer to! Not sure where I got 90 from!

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