Shooglenifty at The David Hall

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Shooglenifty perform in South Petherton, 31 July 2016

In these times of political chaos and economic uncertainty, Shooglenifty, Scotland’s storming cultural alchemists, ministered a powerful musical elixir to induce delight and dancing amongst their rapt audience at The David Hall in Somerset.

Indeed, the audience is central to the band’s performance and selection of music, as mandolin player Ewan MacPherson explains, “Depending on what’s going on with the audience at any particular time influences when we build up the tension, and then release.”

“I bought Whiskey Kiss in 1996 and fell in love with them straight away!”

Pete Wheeler, The David Hall

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Playing songs from their acclaimed new album ‘The Untied Knot’

Explaining Shooglenifty’s dynamic interweaving of eclectic sounds with traditional Scottish folk music, Ewan says, “We are a collection of musicians from different backgrounds – each brings a range of musical influences such as dance, prog rock, funk and bluegrass – and many members originated in the ’80s as Swamptrash so the ethos of the band is about breaking the rules.”  In essence, Shooglenifty appears to be a bunch of musical craftsmen with curious minds, who never settle. Each member of the band brings to it creativity, skill, an openness to experiment and a desire to perform for/connect with their audience. This way of ‘being Shooglenifty’ produces a unique blended concoction of sounds – sometimes radical, sometimes established – that has kept them at the forefront of musical innovation for over 25 years.

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Ewan MacPherson, mandolin and banjo

“My favourite part of a performance is to arrive at a lovely plateau where the band stops thinking about the mechanics of playing and instead reaches an organic flow.”

Ewan MacPherson

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Garry Finlayson, banjo and ‘banjax’

Concentrating on tracks from their latest album, The Untied Knot, Shooglenifty also included a range of firm favourites in their set, including ‘Bjork’s Chauffeur’.

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Quee MacArthur, bass guitarist (channeling Bootsy Collins at times?)
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Gavin’s expressive fiddling delivers warm, clear and vibrant sounds

Their most recent experiment is the introduction and weaving of Kaela Rowan’s exquisite voice into the mix. At The David Hall, the audience were in thrall to Kaela’s beautiful and mesmeric vocals, which at some points took centre stage before the other instruments joined in to produce a massive upsurge of dynamic sounds – at which point hints of funk, reggae, ska, dance, and more, were part of the overall massive textured experience. As the band played, the crowd partied and danced hard. This was one powerful culture trip. One of their loyal fans, seeing them for the 59th time, claimed the evening to be “one of their best performances!”

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The Fruited Thorn is Kaela Rowan’s brilliant new ‘must-have’ album
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Capturing the ‘feel’ of the gig when everyone was tearing it up!

Next year Shooglenifty is participating in a documentary funded by the Scottish Arts Council that concerns their future collaboration with Indian musicians – judging by the amazing evening in South Petherton, we are all in for a treat when this film hits the screen.

Once again, The David Hall offered an unforgettable evening in the heart of South Somerset.

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The band is playing next in Switzerland, Dorset and Denmark – please come back to South Petherton soon Shoogles!
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