We are saddened by the recent passing of a Uist musical Tradition-bearer, Angus Alick MacDonald From Baleshare in North Uist.
Angus Alick was a great button accordion player with a very Hebridean and unique style of playing that we may never hear again on this Island. He had an incredible repertoire of material from the many songs from the Gaelic tradition to the most intricate pipe and fiddle tunes. He had a deep understanding of the piping tradition in particular and was a piper himself as a young man. Like many of his generation, most of his repertoire was learnt by ear but what was remarkable about Angus Alick was that he learnt the tunes very accurately and this was especially evident in his piping repertoire in the way that he followed the ornamentation and embellishments of the piping fingering so precisely. When he was a young man of about 10 years old and into his early teens he would visit his neighbour next door where he knew there was a 2-row melodeon. Since then he was hooked on the button box and he never looked back. He became one of the regular dance musicians in North Uist. He performed all over Scotland and represented Uist when he travelled to South Korea to play the accordion.
Ceòlas were honoured and excited that Aonghas Ailig had agreed to teach on our Button Accordion and Fiddle tuition project “Buttons and Bows”. He was enjoying teaching all the young budding button accordion players and they were all very fond of Aonghas Ailig’s friendly and gentle style of teaching. They were all upset at the sad news. Niall, one of his students, on hearing of his passing promptly took out the box and said.” I have to play a tune for Aonghas Ailig”.
At his funeral service in Clachan church, many people remarked on the beautiful service with music provided by Pàdruig Morrison on accordion amongst others. There was a collection taken at the service, which the family generously donated to Ceòlas on behalf of Aonghas Ailig. Ceòlas very much appreciates this gesture from the family. This money will be used to help pay for instruments to keep this project going and to make sure Aonghas Ailig’s legacy lives on.
Angus Alick with Ishbel MacAskill in Jeju, Korea