Funky String Band
Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, Fri 17 Nov
Their first album sneaked out around 18 months ago, on Shooglenifty’s record label, and now ‘Nifty front man and fiddler Angus Grant, with mandolin maestro Luke Plumb and non-Shooglenifty member Peter Daffy are back in the studio making a second album as the Funky String Band.
Its genesis may have been in Australia (Plumb’s a Tasmanian, and Daffy’s from Victoria) but the band moves between the hemispheres, and opens proceedings at Edinburgh’s wild weekend violin orgy of Fiddle 2006. But as Lochaber-bred Grant is keen to point out ‘A fiddle band we are not! In fact it’ll probably be the first time the festival audience will have heard a Robert Johnson blues. We play anything from Elvis to Nathaniel Gow.’ Plumb cheerfully agrees ‘Our repertoire is from anywhere: old timey American, Eastern European, Willie Nelson, Celtic - Peter (Daffy) has such a wide range of songs, everything from Richard Thompson to Hoagy Carmichael.’ Hoagy Carmichael? ‘Yeah’ says Plumb, ‘Hoagy Carmichael is the business. We’re recording one on the new album - we’re dusting off “Stardust”.’
Fans of globe-trotting Shooglenifty know that Angus is a hugely expressive fiddler, if no traditional tartan purist, but they might not know that as a 14 year-old he rebelled against his background (father Angus senior is a renowned West Highland fiddler and teacher who kept the authentic music alive through the dark decades) by chucking the fiddle and smashing up guitars for years as a punk. And though the fiddle eventually won its place back in his heart, he remains a non-conformist, owning no car, and not even a mobile phone. ‘I’m not anti-mobile phones, but I do find it interesting that although there are now more and more ways to make connections, people are communicating less and less. Saying less and less.’ He laughs, ‘I’m not anti-mobile phone, but I am pro-fiddle. I think everyone should have one!’