Mu­sic with Jonathan Rim­mer

The Oban Times - - Leisure -

LO­CALS have never had to look far for qual­ity tra­di­tional mu­sic. How­ever, Markie Dans played host to a dif­fer­ent sort of ceilidh band last Fri­day. In­spired by ska and funk, In­ver­ness and Spey­side trio Tweed brought a whole new level of en­ergy to the Oban venue.

The band im­pressed the crowd with their unique ar­range­ments of Scot­tish clas­sics and more out­landish tunes such as Rus­sian folk song Kalinka.

Ac­cor­dion­ist Graeme MacKay and fid­dle player Dun­can Far­quhar be­gan much like many Scot­tish dance groups: play­ing reg­u­lar slots at pubs and ho­tels.

How­ever, in 2011 they broad­ened their hori­zons by re­cruit­ing Sam McLeod, an ac­com­plished ska drum­mer for Ed­in­burgh band Bomb­skare.

‘The way I like to look at it is that I turned up and spoiled all of the tunes,’ says Sam. ‘We were play­ing about and the grooves that I went for just seemed to work.

‘There’s so much space in a 4/4 rhythm or a reel. With us, the bassline might stay the same but the drums will com­pletely change. Some­times we stum­ble across funk stuff by ac­ci­dent just by play­ing around with old Scot­tish stuff.’

Like all the best ex­peri- ments, the trio agree that their hy­brid sound was cre­ated ‘ by ac­ci­dent’.

Though the band never re­hearse, they en­joy a weekly res­i­dence in Aviemore, which has be­come a train­ing ground for the spon­ta­neous med­ley-based ap­proach that they bring to their sets.

‘ When peo­ple see us set­ting up they as­sume we’re just a ceilidh band,’ says Graeme. ‘Once we get go­ing peo­ple ei­ther get up and dance im­me­di­ately or they just sit there with their jaws to the ground try­ing to work out who’s do­ing what.

‘For a three-piece, we do cre­ate a re­ally big sound but there’s no point try­ing to work out what’s go­ing on be­cause of­ten we don’t even know.’

In Novem­ber the band re­leased their sec­ond al­bum, The Dark Side of the Loom, which fea­tures ev­ery­thing from sped-up marches to reels played in ‘reg­gae style’.

Pro­duced by Graeme’s cousin Mar­cus Mackay, per­cus­sion­ist for SAY Award win­ner Kathryn Joseph, the al­bum was pos­si­ble thanks to a crowd­fund­ing project that raised £ 3,500.

Tour­ing the al­bum took the band ev­ery­where from a Cyprus mil­i­tary base to an empty Tom­intoul vil­lage hall. How­ever, the band are quick to hail the west coast as one of their favourite place to play.

‘We were last here for the Mull Mu­sic Fes­ti­val so it’s great to be back,’ says Graeme. ‘Oban’s been amaz­ing ev­ery sin­gle time we’ve vis­ited.

‘Plenty of tourists come to shows here, es­pe­cially in the sum­mer, which is great. We’re not re­ally in­ter­ested in pipes, short­bread and bus par­ties but we want to get peo­ple danc­ing, wher­ever they’re from.

‘ We in­tend to be in Oban on a monthly ba­sis. We’re com­ing back to Markie Dans on June 10 and July 23, any­way. What can peo­ple ex­pect? To jump up and down and dance like hell.’

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