This Sunday between 15:00 and 19:00, there will be mince pies, prosecco, soft drinks and free gift wrapping for all customers in-store. We are also super excited to announce that ceilidh band, The Houlies will be performing live from 15:30 till 18:00, so get your dancing shoes at the ready.

The Houlies (meaning wild, drunken brawls, especially at penny weddings…) are made up of band players Aoife Dreelan, Lisa Abraham, Sam Hays and Richard Glassby. The four musicians have built up a reputation for being one of the most energetic and contemporary sounding ceilidh bands Scotland has to offer, combining fun dances, modern music and expert calling.

From left to right: Sam, Aoife, Lisa, Richard

In the lead up to our event, we spoke to the band to talk all things ceilidh music, what exactly “calling” means, and a top-secret celeb encounter…

How did The Houlies come about?

Lisa: Basically, we all grew up in Aberdeen and Aoife and I went to the same school. We’ve been playing the violin for about 10 years together now and we used to play in a Ceilidh band in our school. Around our last years of school, Sam got in touch with us and we decided to put a bit more effort in, we’ve been playing together ever since. We had mutual friends and he actually saw a video of one of us playing on someone’s social media and then managed to get in touch with us that way. That was the summer in 2017 so it’s been about two years now.

Sam: And then Richard and I ended up studying jazz at St. Andrews Uni together so that’s where I met him and where Richard joined.

Where did your passion from Ceilidh music come from?

Aoife: My passion for Ceilidh music started when I was a lot younger. I joined the Aberdeen Strathprey and Reel Society and they got me into playing tribe music and then playing in different venue. It’s also a very big thing up in Aberdeen. At all the weddings and stuff there’s always Ceilidh dancing and we all did it at school.

What are your favourite events to perform at?

Richard: We enjoy playing every Ceilidh and every one is totally different which is what makes The Houlies so great. It always keeps us on our toes. We love playing university balls and school dances especially, because they’re always a bit chaotic and a bit of a riot. However, we also love playing weddings, they’re really special. We’ve had the pleasure of playing some amazing weddings for guests who have come from all over the world. Scotland is big for its castles and country estates so lots of people travel from America and Australia to get married here. It’s always fun to teach people from all over the world how to Ceilidh dance and watch them because they’ve never done anything like it before, so it’s always quite good fun.

Explain to us what calling involves?

Sam: So basically, 90% of our guests won’t know what they’re doing, mainly because 90% of the time they’re drunk! What we normally do is start playing and call out the dance, then we teach everyone the dances really quickly beforehand, then we’ll run it through once. But it can be a bit of a challenge when you’ve got 300 15-year-olds at a ball.

Aoife : Luckily, at least at Scottish schools, people have often done a bit of Scottish dancing in P.E. lessons and things, so we find at school proms up in Aberdeen they kind of know what they’re doing, and it comes back quite quickly. Otherwise Sam can get them under control.

What performances have been a highlight for you?

Lisa: One of the first weddings we ever played, we were in a tipi on the front lawn. It was a really memorable wedding because there were people there from Scotland but also Greece. During the Ceilidh we ended up doing a traditional Greek dance, where basically the music starts really slow, then gets faster and faster. That was something I didn’t expect to be doing in a Ceilidh dance, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Another funny moment was at a gig around 3am, we were packed up and ready to go when a tree fell right over the exit out. Sam had to get an axe and help people cut down the tree which, again, was not something we expected to do. Not in the job description!

Sam : Probably the most absurd thing that’s happened to us, was we were playing at a wedding and the press had caught wind of some celebrity guests in attendance, so they sent the paparazzi along. We had no idea that this was going on, but the paparazzi were hiding in the bushes filming us. We didn’t realise at the time but the next day the Daily Mail were running this story on the front page of Snapchat explore, it was a video of a couple of us playing in the background which was just really weird!

(We asked The Houlies which celebs were at the wedding but unfortunately, they couldn’t tell us. Gutted.)

Richard: We’ve had Ceilidhs where people have actually fallen into the band just because they were getting too energetic and crazy, people just fall into us. Sam often has to give a warning to keep away from the band, we know the danger dances!

What was your reaction when you were asked to perform at the Jack Wills event in Edinburgh?

Aoife: We were really happy because Jack Wills is such a well-known British brand, and also the Edinburgh Christmas market is so huge, we were really excited to be a part of that.

Do The Houlies have a particular ‘look’ or style?

Richard: I wouldn’t call it a uniform, but we go with the sort of tartan trousers and a shirt and tie, and the girls wear a dress, but we’re very casual. We always try and look the part as a young Scottish Ceilidh band, we’re not all in suits, we try and keep it quite chill I suppose.

Lisa: It depends on the different gigs. We get a wide range, so for weddings you don’t want to be in jeans for that because everyone else is dressed really smart. We also get more casual things – we’ve played in people’s garages before so obviously we wouldn’t turn up in anything too fancy for that.

Sam: There is quite a big misconception that Scottish music and Ceilidhs have to be boring and they’re really formal, or that they’re really just something for the older generation but I think we’ve really proved that they can be fun and modern. We definitely go for a modern style, all the music that we play is recently written and when we go to a Ceilidh we just don’t really care if everyone’s sticking to all the steps, we just want everyone to have a good time.

If you like the sound of The Houlies, make sure you head to our Edinburgh store on Sunday to hear them live! For more information about our Edinburgh store and how to find us, click here.

P.S. – Started your Christmas shopping yet? Find heritage hoodies, comfy sweatpants and accessory staples on our website.