I am converted.

One thing I put up with is street performers.One thing I cannot stand in the least is folk music.

When someone told me, “There’s a great folk band on Buchanan Street”, I wasn’t exactly enthralled. However, after a reworked version of Daft Punk’s summer smash, “Get Lucky” filled the space between the newly-opened Hard Rock Cafe and Forbidden Planet, I was as excited as the kids. . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfuYObq3jIg

Filling the air of Glasgow is an experiment that could spell Frankenstein-esque catastrophe; folk and dance. Polar opposites that seemed like a horrible clash; like fruit with savoury food. Then I tried it for myself, and I wondered why I had never put pineapple on my pizza before.

Picture the scene : it’s the lunch break you’ve been waiting all morning for in that wall to wall grey office. You’ve got your pasta salad and you’re admiring the products that you know you can’t afford in the windows of Buchanan Street . . . Then you hear it . . . Clapping? No. Weirder, still. A banjo?!

This isn’t Louisiana! Is it? No. Daft Punk may wear robot-style helmets but they definitely don’t play the banjo. 

About a year and a half ago, Sean Thomson was amusing himself with his banjo. Darryl McCabe his mandolin and Kieran Sinclair his voice, when the trio decided to form a band. A few months and a few additional members later (Rebecca Brown, Calum Sneddon and David O’Neill with their fiddle, drums and bass respectively) and Papa Shandy & The Drams were born.

Dozens of YouTube videos and an album later and Glasgow’s High Street is a buzz with the band’s unique sound.

The scene you have stumbled into on Buchanan Street is one of 21st Century-style folk; you have the guy bouncing into the circle, shameless and the young kids who won’t know shame until their parents show the video of this on their 18th birthday, the people who are desperate to dance but won’t, at least until someone else does, accompanied by an odd version of The Offspring’s “Hit That”. 

“We like “Hit That” because it’s about the council estate, and the people in it . . . like Glasgow”, says the culprit of the banjo sound, Sean. “We’re going for music for the people”. 

This, people, is the new folk. Not “my great Aunt Margaret and her redneck ways”, but the same concept in the world of 2014 Glasgow; council estates, recession, a point to the problem of sectarianism, and a can-do attitude.

“Kieran loves Dan Tyminski, the guy who did the Avicii song, “Hey Brother”, and bluegrass”.

This new concept should soon be all over Scotland, with Papa Shandy leading his Drams from festival to festival, kicking off with The Eden Festival in June, through to next year’s Celtic Connections, and beyond. For now, the band can mostly be found playing live at The Glad Cafe, but are playing in Mercada tonight (Friday 31st January)  in Glasgow’s Merchant City and The Corinthian in early February.

However, in-between, Papa Shandy & The Drams can be found outside Buchanan Galleries bringing a unique spin on some of your favourite songs and more than a little merriment to the overcrowded Glasgow street.

Papa Shandy & The Dram’s album, “One Ae’r the Eigh” is available now.

 

 

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