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TITLE
Angus Grant on Tom Anderson
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_ANGUSGRANT_08
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
Aonghas Grant
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1570
KEYWORDS
Angus Grant
fiddlers
traditional music
Tammy Anderson
audio

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Aonghas Grant, also known as the Left-handed Fiddler of Lochaber, has been playing fiddle since he was thirteen years old. His career spans over sixty years and he is still active as a teacher, soloist, composer and session participant, playing a wide range of fiddle music. Aonghas is a Gaelic speaker and particularly noted for his 'West Highland Style' of fiddling, influenced by both Gaelic and piping. In this audio extract, originally recorded for 'Moray Firth People' in the late 1990s, Aonghas talks to Andy Ross about Tom (Tammy) Anderson MBE (1910-1991), the renowned Shetland fiddle player.

Interviewer: How and when did you start teaching fiddle?

Well, I just started off well, something like the way I started at home with my son, Angus Rory, when he was about five. And my brother Hamish bought him a wee fiddle, and within a week he was playing half a dozen tunes - he just was a natural player. And then I went down to the Blairgowrie Festival, and the first time Tom came down from Shetland and started competitions for the TMSA [Traditional Music & Song Association of Scotland] and Tom was judging the fiddle, and he put up the cup for it. And there was a big, big crowd, I think there was maybe thirty entries from all over the place, and I was about the thirtieth - I think I was the very last one - and I went - there was a pub opposite and Hamish Henderson - the School of [Scottish] Studies and one of this Irish boys, Fury, old Ted Fury, there we'd a great session, all afternoon. Forgot all about the competition and some wee lassie came and said, 'Is Angus Grant here? They're on the second last fiddler.' So, I went in and I was in great form after playing all afternoon and Tom was awful wide looking and he said, 'What ist doo going to play boy?', in the strong Shetland accent. You'd to play three tunes. It's 'Niel Gow's Lament for his Second Wife', 'Jeff MacKenzie' and 'Captain MacDiarmid'. And I went up and I played - no nerves, nothing, after playing all morning, and the fiddle all warmed up and - Eventually, I won it, and became friends - that's when I met Anderson first and he invited me - When he started up the summer school he wanted me to come down and teach the Highland style and I said, 'Well, apart from my son I've never taught anyone.' 'Oh', he says, 'Doos'll get on fine', he said and - So that was it and twenty years later I'm still there. Tom's gone but the thing's still going on.

Interviewer: Tom's a man you couldn't argue with?

Oh no. He was too big for a start! But he was a - he was a great, he'd a great - what's the word - charisma, about him. And he could - on one hand he could be so rude and abrupt to people, and then he could turn round and charm the birds off the trees. And he was a wonderful raconteur - ye could listen to him all night; he could talk about anything from music, to paintings, and spiritualism, and all sorts of - He seemed to have read a lot and he could, when he was in form, great form, he was wonderful company altogether, but he could fly off the handle so quick if things weren't going right. But he made such a great - He did so much for, not only Shetland fiddle music, but for fiddle music all over Scotland. It's nice to think, you know, the great heritage he left of young players and the wonderful tunes he composed, equal to anything that Gow and Skinner composed, and there's still more books getting produced from his manuscripts. I enjoy teaching at Stirling because one of his great pupils, Catriona MacDonald, is with me there. We were in the same week and I'm very fond of Catriona. We've been there together since she was a little girl and now she's teaching and she's a wonderful player

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Angus Grant on Tom Anderson

1990s

Angus Grant; fiddlers; traditional music; Tammy Anderson; audio

Moray Firth Radio

MFR: Angus Grant

Aonghas Grant, also known as the Left-handed Fiddler of Lochaber, has been playing fiddle since he was thirteen years old. His career spans over sixty years and he is still active as a teacher, soloist, composer and session participant, playing a wide range of fiddle music. Aonghas is a Gaelic speaker and particularly noted for his 'West Highland Style' of fiddling, influenced by both Gaelic and piping. In this audio extract, originally recorded for 'Moray Firth People' in the late 1990s, Aonghas talks to Andy Ross about Tom (Tammy) Anderson MBE (1910-1991), the renowned Shetland fiddle player.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: How and when did you start teaching fiddle? <br /> <br /> Well, I just started off well, something like the way I started at home with my son, Angus Rory, when he was about five. And my brother Hamish bought him a wee fiddle, and within a week he was playing half a dozen tunes - he just was a natural player. And then I went down to the Blairgowrie Festival, and the first time Tom came down from Shetland and started competitions for the TMSA [Traditional Music & Song Association of Scotland] and Tom was judging the fiddle, and he put up the cup for it. And there was a big, big crowd, I think there was maybe thirty entries from all over the place, and I was about the thirtieth - I think I was the very last one - and I went - there was a pub opposite and Hamish Henderson - the School of [Scottish] Studies and one of this Irish boys, Fury, old Ted Fury, there we'd a great session, all afternoon. Forgot all about the competition and some wee lassie came and said, 'Is Angus Grant here? They're on the second last fiddler.' So, I went in and I was in great form after playing all afternoon and Tom was awful wide looking and he said, 'What ist doo going to play boy?', in the strong Shetland accent. You'd to play three tunes. It's 'Niel Gow's Lament for his Second Wife', 'Jeff MacKenzie' and 'Captain MacDiarmid'. And I went up and I played - no nerves, nothing, after playing all morning, and the fiddle all warmed up and - Eventually, I won it, and became friends - that's when I met Anderson first and he invited me - When he started up the summer school he wanted me to come down and teach the Highland style and I said, 'Well, apart from my son I've never taught anyone.' 'Oh', he says, 'Doos'll get on fine', he said and - So that was it and twenty years later I'm still there. Tom's gone but the thing's still going on.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Tom's a man you couldn't argue with?<br /> <br /> Oh no. He was too big for a start! But he was a - he was a great, he'd a great - what's the word - charisma, about him. And he could - on one hand he could be so rude and abrupt to people, and then he could turn round and charm the birds off the trees. And he was a wonderful raconteur - ye could listen to him all night; he could talk about anything from music, to paintings, and spiritualism, and all sorts of - He seemed to have read a lot and he could, when he was in form, great form, he was wonderful company altogether, but he could fly off the handle so quick if things weren't going right. But he made such a great - He did so much for, not only Shetland fiddle music, but for fiddle music all over Scotland. It's nice to think, you know, the great heritage he left of young players and the wonderful tunes he composed, equal to anything that Gow and Skinner composed, and there's still more books getting produced from his manuscripts. I enjoy teaching at Stirling because one of his great pupils, Catriona MacDonald, is with me there. We were in the same week and I'm very fond of Catriona. We've been there together since she was a little girl and now she's teaching and she's a wonderful player