Last week, we featured a couple stellar jams from some Scottish fellows who’ve chosen the moniker The Dirty Beggars for themselves and as it turns out, what a fitting handle that is. With an emphasis on busking the streets of their home country and Americana and traditional bluegrass jams, The Dirty Beggars are working hard at changing my personal perception that these genres are best left in the country of their perceived birth. Americana, as it turns out, doesn’t have to be American to be good. Traditional bluegrass isn’t only listenable when it originates in the Appalachians.
When I was in high school, 10 long years ago, I plastered posters of Scottish universities on the slanted, wood paneled walls of my bedroom. I focused not on applying to schools here in the States but on sending off pages and pages of questionaires to Scotland via International Mail. I chose not to major in business or English, but instead in Gaelic. It made no sense but my feeling of a connection to the country from which this band comes forth was undeniably strong, for whatever reason. In the years since, that dream has come and gone, having fallen by the wayside and abandoned for less lofty but more achievable goals. Now though, with the realization that there are indeed pieces of what I call home in that country I once pined for, that dream has been reignited. Fuck Gaelic, that shit is a dead language anyway, but long live bluegrass in foreign lands, ya’ll.
I checked in with The Dirty Beggars yesterday and the boys were kind enough to answer some off-kilter questions for you, dear readers. We here at Folk Hive highly recommend taking in their words and even more so, digging into the small but worthwhile Beggars catalog. Score one for the Scots doing it just as well, if not better than, the ‘Mericans…
Let’s get some introductions going up in here. Who are The Dirty Beggars?
We’re 5 guys who are all living in Glasgow, Scotland. Finn Begbie, Peter Begbie, Kieran Begbie, Pedro Cameron, Stuart Printie.
Now let’s get a geography lesson going. Fill we Americans in on where it is from whence you came.
The three Begbies come from Peebles in the Scottish Borders…we’re cousins and Pete and Finn are brothers. Nobody knows really where Pedro comes from originally and Stuart comes from Dunblane in Perthshire. We all crossed paths in Glesgae one way or another.
Speaking of geography, I’m interested. How is it that your location has affected or shaped your music? Has it at all or are the sounds of The Dirty Beggars something that has been touched by the streets you grew up on?
Our music definitely takes influences from Scotland and Scottish music. We play bluegrass but in quite a loose sense, especially our original stuff. Everybody knows that Scottish folk and trad[itional music] is intrinsically related to American folk and trad (bluegrass/old time etc.) and I guess we’ve taken influences from both. In particularPpedro’s fiddling is heavily influenced by the Scottish style of playing and I think folks will be able to hear that.
And speaking of shit that I’m interested in, what about genealogy? How is it that your family has informed the music your making? One of you fellows have a great-great-grandpa that was a banjo afficianado?
Haha, not a great-great grandpa no…we don’t think anyway. Although banjo player may well have been ‘closet’ banjo players given the nature of the instrument. Kieran, Stuart and Pedro’s dads are quite the Americana music boffins in general so there has been exposure from a young age to hillbilly beats.
When did The Dirty Beggars become The Dirty Beggars? How did you form up?
The three cousins from Bonnie Peebles used to play and jam together through high school and towards the end when we could go to the pub we fell in with a bunch of older musicians at a local americana live pub session. From there, P, F and K started playing together when they moved to Glasgow and only picked Pedro and Stuart up last October. Since then things have gone exponentially for us and we’ve all knitted together like a kilt!
In my research for the interview, I ran across a million videos of ya’ll busking. Explain the reason for time spent playing for random people on the street.
I think music (particularly acoustic music and the kinda stuff we’re doing) is at home on the streets. It’s where it can be heard in it’s purest and most honest form I think. as well as that philosphical shit it’s also the best fun to be out busking (when it’s not raining) and a good way to make a quick buck!
Say there’s a festival in the Midwestern American backwoods and you’ve been invited to curate the lineup. Give me an idea of some of the bands you’d invite…
Old Crow Medicine Show, Trampled By Turtles, Tony Rice Unit, Del mMcCoury Band, Steve Earle, Hayes Carll, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Water Tower Bucket Boys, The Wilders…..the list goes OOOONNN AND OOOON!
Tell us about the new album. When can we here in the States get a taste of what you’re throwin’ down?
We finished the mixing and mastering over a month ago but we’ve had hold ups at the printers. But we should definitely have it by the time we come to the States. The official release date won’t be until around September and it’s from then you can get it online, etc. The album’s called Bite the Bullet and it’s got ten original tracks on it. We think it’s a good mix of fast and slow as well as fun with serious. We’re really proud of it and can’t wait to hear what folks think.
Off topic: We (and by we, I mean I, of course) like the beer. I’m assuming your beer selection is quite different from ours here, so enlighten us: Favorite beverage?
Tennents Lager is the Scottish staple. Best served in a tin, warm and at a festival. After that, whisky. Any whisky. We love whisky.
There you have it, kids. Old Crow Medicine Show, Scottish accents born in places whose names I cannot even begin to pronounce, beer, and bluegrass. Men after my own heart, these ones.
We’ll be certain to keep ya’ll updated in re: to the forthcoming Dirty Beggars album which will surely kick some serious ass, a fact on which I think we’re all in agreement. Listen to The Dirty Beggars below and for shit’s sake, grab a Tennents and kick back with some exceptional Scottish bluegrass you didn’t know existed.