13 July 2014

Interview: Sheelanagig at Behind the Castle Festival 2014


It was festival founder Ian Lyster who gave me the top tip to make sure I watched Sheelanagig perform and according to my Bristolian friend’s they’re mad! In the name of research I Google’d the band name ‘Sheelanagig’ and instantly knew from the search results my interview was going to be a lot of fun!
I had the pleasure in interviewing both fiddler and vocalist Aaron Catlow and double bassist and vocalist Dorian Sutton in the cosy wooden press hut.
As we’re here at the first ever Behind the Castle festival, what was the first ever festival Sheelanagig played at?
Dorian:  Ooh, that will be Bath Fringe Festival about 10 years ago. Was a great festival, although I can’t remember a lot.
So, what festival essentials would you not leave home without?
In unison: Cider!
Any particular cider?
Dorian: Ashton Press.
Anything else you’d make sure you pack?
Aaron: Wellies and instruments!
Any advice for a festival virgin?
Dorian: Turn off your phone and just wander around. Go with the flow, get lost and discover new music. No tweeting!
Any random or bizarre festival experiences?
Aaron: Yes, it’s a little bit naughty though. We were at Fire in the Mountain Festival, in Aberystwyth. Which I must say is one of my favourite festivals, it’s pretty small with about 1,000 people making it lovely and intimate. Anyway, back to the story. There was a late night bar and I decided to sit up on the beam with my pint. What I didn’t expect to see was two people butt naked getting very intimate. Now that was a pretty bizarre moment!
If you could curate your own festival, who would play? Apart from yourselves of course!
Dorian & Aaron: Music wise: The Destroyers, Moulettes, and Nuala Honan. There’d also be a mix of poetry and comedy. Elvis McGonagall is a great stand-up poet. And Peter Clifford is a wicked magician from Bristol.
Where would you host your festival?
Dorian: At the Tobacco Factory in Bedminster, Bristol as you’ve got everything there and don’t need to worry about the weather.
Now for some quick fire festival questions….
  • Camping or glamping? Camping.
  • Wellies or flip flips? Wellies.
  • Where will we find you during the festival: moshing at the front, dancing in the middle, chilling at the back or at the bar? Dancing in the middle.
  • Favourite castle? Dorian: Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. Aaron: The one from Highlander! (Eilean Donan Castle).
And finally, can you sum up Behind the Castle in 3 words? Idyllic. Acoustic. Cider!

Sheelanagig went on to perform on Stage 2 at 20:30, the warm up act before headline act The Levellers. And they certainly did that!

I asked Dorian and Aaron what the audience could expect from their set. They painted a very vivid image with their response.

Madness, lots of dancing, frenzied Balkan music, bad medieval puns. Make sure you have you’re dancing shoes on!

The below photo taken at the end of their set, capturing the madness perfectly.

I’ve never seen so much energy, musicality, and comedy oozing from a male folk band. At times it was almost like watching a Benny Hill sketch show with the flutist Adrian and fiddler Aaron doing comedy kicks up the bum, and tapping their watch whilst one of them had a solo piece.

Sheelanagig most definitely got the festival party going, the audience were properly bouncing and throwing shapes in the tent without a care in the world. You have to admire a band who can control the audience to make them sit on the floor. You’ve got to love a bit of festival craziness and these guys had it in buckets. Hand on heart, these guys are probably one of the best bands I’ve seen live in a very long time and I ‘need’ to see them again just to experience those 40 minutes of pure hedonistic bliss.
Sheelanagig Festival Selfie

Pop over to Sheelanagig’s website to see where you can catch the madness next and why not have a read of my Behind the Castle review here.

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