Shooglenifty: Heading West

The Traverse Theater
Sunday 30th April 2023

For Angus

A shock, a lot
and it all comes flooding out
the care and value never much encountered round about
from day to day a way away from that place and that time
so now it’s time to say a line, or two, for you.
An acquaintanceship that blurs the
twixt when I was not yet and am now.
Learning laughing, playing crafting
in your basement flat
with my fiddle and my bow
stars told my fingers where to go
and you, well you just let me play, guiding in a gentle way
(a gentle giant I might say),
with a beard that spoke of ancient times
highland clans and celtic rhymes
I took your hand and learned to fly
an eagle sweeping oer the glen
a burn that tinkles into lochs
a hero in that sweet slow air
an impish jig between the rocks.
And now you’re gone and yet
you’re not
your music it goes on and on
and on and up and out and wide
a captain’s gaze out ‘neath the night sky.
And up and up out into space
a futuristic, psychedelic, fucking other worldly place
made out of sound waves
out of notes
and now you’re
out there on your boat
so play the waves and play them loud
Angus, take your final bow.
Ruby Zajac

Divine’s History with the brilliant band Shooglenifty began in 1998 when I became part of the Spiegel Tent Family, performing my Spiritual Healing and Clairvoyant Magik by day and by night Spiegel Tents Dancer and get people dancing Wizard. It was then that the mystical presence of this enigmatic fiddle player who had an absolute presence who’s instrument took the place of lead vocals to create the best party one has ever been to. I was mesmerised by Angus, his beautiful piercing eyes. Aye I remember the first time that Shooglenifty walked into my soul, it was the beginning of a journey for Divine in many ways.

Come 2000, I was making my maiden voyage to Adelaide in South Australia to perform at the Adelaide Fringe. It was the first time The Spiegel Tent had had a residency in Rundle Park – settled among the gum trees The Garden Of Unearthly Delights was born. Anyway one night in The Spiegel Tent, there was a Scottish-themed night and the night’s Spiegel Tents bill, were two of Divine’s Scottish favourites Tam White (Accompanied by Brian Kellogg on keys) And Shooglenifty. Both I had danced for in Edinburgh. I just knew this was going to be a fantastic night. It was a life-changing night. For it was Shooglenifty’s performance that I had the first dance with the woman that I fell in love with and married.. It was after that performance that we kissed until sunrise under a tree in Rundle Park. After one of the best and most memorable performances of my life.

I emigrated to Adelaide to be with my fiancee after the British Summer festival season in the October of that year and we got married on the 9th December 2000. I worked on two creative Healing projects, One with the Melbourne-based Rainbow Serpent Festival and one with Woamadelaide. I worked with both over a four year period, developing and managing Healing Villages. Womadalaide was my biggest projtect yet and was also delighted that Shooglenifty were headlining the festival.

It really was the cream on the cake and my first time of seeing them on a stage bigger than Spiegel Tents lovely performance art venue. Another Shooglnifty moment burned into my subconscious with its beauty. The audience was massive. Adelaide Botanical Gardens couldn’t have been a better venue and it was my first time of seeing this great band shine brighter. Scottish Trad is massive in Australia And Shooglenifty were riding the crest of the wave. The ex-pat factor ensured bookings at all major creative arts festivals down under. So I took every opportunity to see them live whenever I could It was even the deciding factor of going to the Byron bay Blues and Roots Festival Divines first and only time on the South Pacific.

Shooglenifty were going from strength to strength as their Celtic Infused musical mastery became bigger and bigger to ever increasing audiences.. Shooglenifty were an unstoppable force fast becoming superstars. Worldy renowned.The phenomenal rise of one of Scotlands greatest exports. With great talent comes great success. And I was seeing it unfold before my eyes.

Fast forward to 2014 and am round at my besties, Heidi Pearsons having a cuppa and a natter and in walked Angus. Aww man wow, I had nothing but deep reverence. Shooglenifty had just released the new long player The Untied Knot. Angus gave me a copy then and is a prize part of the Divine Music Library. Angus explained how the long player was made. I was more than a little starstruck just as much as I was at my first Shooglenifty live experience back in 1998. I love Edinburgh for magik like this.

So it was with great sadness and shock to discover that this important icon had ascended to the Heavens. I remember finding out on Facebook and didn’t want Heidi to find out this way. So I went round to break the news. I knew how much she loved him. But that’s the thing with Angus. Everyone loved him. He was an amazing man. And although I couldnae attend the funeral in Shetland, my heart definitely was. Angus and Shoogleniftys Acid Croft have been immeasurably important to my life and to the lives of countless others. ❤

So this showing of the film Heading West as part of Edinburgh Tradfest at the Traverse. Couldn’t have been more cathartic and emotionally charged. I more or less howled throughout the performance. Because the film was all about this brilliant man, the history Of Shooglenifty was reminisced by the key players. Deeply immersive interviews with friends and band members Interwoven with archival footage of the bands rise from humble beginnings in the old Town of Auldee Reekie. When La Belle Angele was nothing more than a basement with a three-bar electric fire for heating. To the subsequent rise of Rock N Roll Grace, this is a film of great eye candy, beautifully capturing the bands musical journey in Raijstan, such breath taking beauty and a fly-on-the-wall insight into what makes Shooglenifty such a hot ticket globally.

Way Out West is a well-crafted and fitting epitaph to a true Scottish Musical Legend. There wasnae a dry eye in the house. I think that it would be impossible for anyone not to be moved by this fantastic Rockunmenatry. For Divne it was an opportunity to grieve the loss of a friend and inspiration and also a trip back down memory lane to life-changing musical moments. Indeed am still processing it.

A brilliantly crafted, insightful and educational film about how a band continues after losing its leader to the Heavens. Indeed I am looking forward to the new incarnation of Shooglnifty’s performance on the Great Mountain Stage at Eden Festival this year, It its going to be a life changing moment, But that’s the thing with Shooglenifty it always was and always has been, nothing less than quality Good Time entertainment.

See you guys in a field soon ❤

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

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