The Poozies first burst onto the folk scene in 1991, when folk music wore elaborately patterned woolly jumpers and was only seen in dingy back rooms and very late at night on BBC2 – yet from the word go they were breaking out and happily exploring the musical universe.
The folk scene was then, as now, very male-dominated and so it was a conscious decision back then to be an ‘all-female’ band. The name came from a den of iniquity frequented by Robert Burns, called Poozie Nancy’s, and there is some debate amongst the four founder members as to whether the now-obvious meaning of ‘Poozie’ was realised back then… but the feeling now is that it’s pretty rock and roll!! As with all bands that have been on the road for so long there have been various line-up changes, and although it’s probably fair to say a male may feel it’s slightly strange to be in a band with this name, there has also always been a natural choice of who will join the band and these people have also just so happened to be female. Throughout the years The Poozies have toured worldwide, and attracted recognition and appreciation for their eclectic choice of material, unusual and exciting arrangements, and heart-tugging vocal harmonies. This new line-up is really the best yet with a great collection of cool songs and groovy tunes. Anchored by the bass end of Mary Macmaster’s electro-harp the band swings like a monster with twin fiddles playing off each other and then the sound comes right down to pin-drop quiet for a gorgeous song.
Mary Macmaster: Electro-harp, vocals
Mary has always been a Poozie. She was an original member of the group back in 1991 (just a slip of a girl then), and has remained the steadfast skipper through its impressively long history. With a gloriously fat, bassy sound from her Camac electro-harp, and vocals that range effortlessly from sweet and pure to wild and compelling, she is a legend on the scene. As well as collaborating with way too many stars to mention she appeared on the Jools Holland Show and toured with Sting in 2010 and was inducted into the Scottish Music Hall of Fame in 2013. During the last twenty years she has been at the forefront of the Scottish harp revival and an official ambassador of Scottish music. She is one part of what is surely a unique duo of harp and drums with the peerless Donald Hay; a major force in the ten-strong women ensemble, Songs of Separation; and one third of the recently reformed Shine, with Alyth McCormack and Corrina Hewat. She is quite possibly the best driver in the world, always knows the right way to go even when the Satnav says otherwise, and never knowingly leaves a party early.
Eilidh Shaw: Fiddle, vocals
Eilidh has been a Poozie since 2000 (we think). She’s originally from a small village called Taynuilt, near Oban, on the West coast of Scotland, but spent her twenties in Edinburgh, where she led many of the fantastic, ground-breaking sessions and was involved in a huge number of projects with musicians across the genres. In 1997 she made a ‘solo’ album with many guest musicians, namely Ian Carr, Donald Hay, Brian Kellock and Simon Bradley, and from there went on to feature in many great groups, including John Rae’s Celtic Feet, Keep It Up, Harem Scarem and The Unusual Suspects. Although her fiddling style has remained firmly rooted in the West Coast of Scotland she plays regularly with Scandinavian, African, Breton and French musicians. Now living in West Lochaber she teaches fiddle, plays for many local dances, and runs the annual festival, Fèis na Mara, and has recently become the new fiddle player in Shooglenifty. Eilidh never knowingly leaves a party.
Sarah McFadyen: Fiddle, banjo, guitar, vocals
Sarah is newish to the Poozies but not to Eilidh and Mary as she was also heavily involved in that intoxicating Edinburgh session scene of the late Nineties and early Noughties. At this point Sarah was doing a degree at Edinburgh College of Art, and she continues to be a successful visual artist to this day. She is from the island of Hoy in Orkney, and has a lovely laid-back fiddle and 5-string banjo style akin to the North American old-timers, which perfectly suits her soaring lark-like vocals. She was a founder member of indie-pop band Aberfeldy and played for many years with Eilidh in eclectic alt-folk band Harem Scarem and prog-ceilidh innovators The Squashy Bag Dance Band. She now leads the joyously whacky ‘Dance Bandits’ and paints beautiful whacky paintings. Sarah never leaves a party, knowingly or otherwise.
Michael Bryan: Guitar, vocals
The Poozies are delighted that the effervescent Mike Bryan was able to step in to continue on where our amazing Tia Files left off. True, he’s not a woman, but we like to move with the changes! Here are some other interesting facts about this lovable all-rounder: Mike was born in Terre-Haute, Indiana, but raised in Strathkanaird; seven miles north of Ullapool. He began his musical training at the age of seven in classical violin and choral singing, but was inspired to pick up a guitar after hearing Nirvana and Neil Young during his teenage years. He has gone on to become a much-respected and in-demand accompanist, touring and collaboration extensively with many varied and diverse artists, and was a founder member of both the class act ‘Box Club’ and much-celebrated thirteen-piece fusion renegades ‘Treacherous Orchestra’. He is a passionate teacher and tutors refular groupwork and guitar classes for many different branches of the Fèisean movement as well as privately and at numerous summer schools. He has recently been working on an educational project with Glasgow based Bhangra producers ‘Tigetstyle’, and a collaberation performance of ‘Contours of Cairngorm’ by the four National Centres of Excellence for Music in Scotland. Michael IS the party!