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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