Six questions with… Dowally

Dowally are Dan Abrahams (guitar), Phil Alexander (accordion and piano) and Rachel Walker (fiddle, whistle and vocals), plus regular collaborator, cello player Graham Coe (The Jellyman’s Daughter). Together they make unclassifiable, thrillingly energetic music, fusing their love of traditional Scottish tunes with jazz harmony, Balkan rhythms and deep Americana raucousness. 

What do Dowally have planned for 2016?

Well, we’re excited to be doing a wee tour of the UK at the end of April, with TradFest being our final gig. Just now, we’re playing tunes from the debut album we released last year but we also have lots of fresh new tunes which will form much of album number two, which we’re hoping to get recorded at the end of 2016. And new stuff is coming all the time!

Which other musicians have been your main influences? 

Too many to list! Lots of bands from America like Goat Rodeo Sessions, Bela Fleck and Crooked Still, but also bands from Scotland such as Lau and the Halton Quartet. But I think in subtle ways your influences probably go right back to what your parents were playing you as a kid: The Beatles, Van the Man, lots of jazz music…

What inspires your songwriting?

Something that’s fun to listen to, a tune that makes your ears prick up…

Which bands/artists from the contemporary Trad scene, in Scotland or elsewhere, do you rate most?

Oh man, there is so much good stuff going on, but to name few…. Mairearad and Anna, Dallahan, Punch Brothers. A few of us are obsessed by a band called Lake Street Dive who aren’t folky at all but they are awesome.

Have you played TradFest before? Are there any other acts on the programme you’d recommend seeing?

This will be Dowally’s TradFest debut! We’re especially excited to see the fantastic Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, Dàimh, our bandmate Phil’s Moishe’s Bagel, Tam Lyn and Talisk. The TradBeats workshop is also very intriguing: mouth music, beatboxing, stepdance and body percussion… sounds good to me!

What does Tradition mean to you?

It’s difficult to pin down. It’s the mass of folk culture which has built up over centuries. In terms of our music, we don’t compose with specific traditions in mind; it’s just that we have enjoyed listening and playing traditional folk music so much that it seeps into the pieces we write.

Dowally play The Pleasance on Friday 29 April. Book tickets.