Six questions with… Sheesham and Lotus & ‘Son

Famously referred to as “Mississippi Sheiks meet Doctor Seuss as curated by HG Wells”, Canada-based Sheesham and Lotus & ‘Son have created a sonic and visual presentation of old time high stepping music which is completely unique. We asked them a few questions about their upcoming projects, inspirations and views on tradition before they head out on their Scottish tour, stopping by TradFest on Fri 6 May.

Tell us about your upcoming album.

Our most recent recording, which we are honoured to be releasing at TradFest and in Shetland, is the result of a life-long dream to record in the old style on 78rpm shellac disc.  It was recorded in Skegness in the summer of 2015 in the public pool pop-ups by Lorna Fulton and Gary Malkin.

Which other musicians have been your main influences? 

We take inspiration from so many sources, including each other! John Hartford, The Mississippi Sheiks, Geeshie Wiley, Elizabeth Cotton, Charlie Patton, Lowe Stokes, John Phillip Sousa and Betty Crocker.

What inspires you when writing music?

We are inspired by the old folks playing and the young folks dancing; the crackle of a record when the needle drops; the curve of the West Virginia Mountains and the Mississippi mud.    

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

We had the pleasure of sharing a few tunes with the Irish group Lynched last year at Tonder, Denmark. Lovely bunch of folks. 

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

This is our first TradFest – thank you! Very excited to see amazing acts like hip hopper Griogair Labhruidh, Niteworks and Dàimh, and of course, who can resist a band like Moishe’s Bagel?

What does Tradition mean to you?

Tradition to us means an indelible connection to both the past and the future. We learn from the old folks and our peers – that’s the past. We teach to the young folks and our peers – that’s the future. 

We are a small part in the continuum of folk music. It is something which now inhabits our cellular structure and we can’t help doing it. We are here now, making this music. It is both archaic and contemporary merely by its very existence. It is happening today, yesterday and tomorrow. We are not here to make a lasting legacy of our music. We are one part of a fantastic whole.

Fortune has smiled upon us in that we have the honour of presenting the music that moves us to a listening public. It is a job that while we take very seriously, but it is with lightness and love in our hearts as we share it with listeners, dancers and other musicians. It is a profound part of the story of human creativity and we are blessed to be a part of it.

Sheesham and Lotus & ‘Son play the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Fri 6 May. Book tickets.

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