THERE can’t be many folk bands who have lost a singer to BBC’s The Voice but that is exactly what happened to The Poozies back in 2014. Sally Barker, a founding member of the folk foursome, left the band to appear on the show and eventually finished as runner-up. However, the band – named after a haunt of Rabbie Burns’s called Poosie Nancy’s – have not stood still.

They finally announced their new line-up in January of this year and the addition of Tia Files and Sarah McFadyen – both multi-instrumentalists – to established Poozies Eilidh Shaw and Mary Macmaster has seen the band go from strength to strength.

The two new members appear to have reinvigorated the band and, if their gig at Lost Map’s Howlin’ Fling is anything to go by, have brought a renewed energy to their music.

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Fiddler and vocalist Shaw explains: “It’s been fantastic working with Sarah and Tia.

“Both Mary and I have known Sarah for over 20 years – I went round Europe busking with her when we were both very young, and we went on to form the group Harem Scarem together. The music in that band was always quite idiosyncratic and there’s definitely an element of that in The Poozies now.

“Tia is constantly seeking out new music and learning from it, and her approach to backing and composing is unlike anyone else’s, with influences of heavy metal and rock in there. I think the best thing about the new line-up is that we are all on the same page with this – we all like the material to be a bit quirky and interesting and essentially exciting.

“When Sarah and Tia joined we decided to start from scratch with all new music, which was quite a daunting prospect, but actually turned out to be great fun and it all happened very naturally.”

It has been a busy summer for the band and autumn and winter promise more of the same, with perhaps some time to pen a new album squeezed in among the gigs.

The band will be headlining Mallaig’s annual Feis na Mara festival on September 29 until October 1 and are promising a few special guests as they bring their big band to the Mallaig and Morar Community Centre stage.

“Feis na Mara will be amazing as we are pulling in ex-Poozie Mairearad Green plus drums and a horn section,” said Shaw. “We’ve got a couple of crazy covers up our sleeves for that one!

“The very first run of gigs we did were brilliant,” Shaw added. “The pressure was on with some venues sold out and others having a high percentage of friends and family members in the audience but they really couldn’t have gone better.

“A highlight was definitely The Howlin’ Fling festival on Eigg and just the other night we had a brilliant sold out-gig in Edinburgh.”

The Poozies’ sound has been honed since their foundation in 1991 but one thing that has remained constant through line-up changes and changing fashions has been their desire to innovate and avoid being pigeon-holed. The melding of fiddle, guitar, banjo and Macmaster’s signature bassy Camac electro-harp has given the band their unique sound – as has the fact that they have remained steadfastly an all-female group.

Their name certainly appears to preclude male members but the band themselves insist that is not the case and that new members are chosen on the basis of their talent and ability to fit in with the musical values of the group.

Shaw, one of Scotland’s genuine star fiddlers, has an onstage presence that draws the audience in and her deep connection to the music is evident as she plays. It is no wonder that she has recently been among those to whom Shooglenifty turned when they lost their iconic fiddler Angus R Grant at a tragically young age in October last year.

For now, though, Shaw’s focus remains on The Poozies and a winter touring schedule which will culminate with Celtic Connections, when the band hope to be able to unveil the tunes on their much-anticipated new album.

“We’ve all got the usual juggling act of different projects on the go individually but we definitely all see The Poozies as our main priority right now,” said Shaw.

“It’ll be interesting to see how the big band thing goes at Feis na Mara, as it might be good to do more of that for a festival headline slot, but to be honest we just love the four-piece, and we think it’s pretty rocking as it is.

“We haven’t had a chance to record in the studio yet,” Shaw added. “We’ve got a plan, but it depends on the alignment of the stars...

“Over the winter, we’d like to spend a bit of time working on writing music together and arranging more of our own compositions. We’ve got a wee run of gigs in Denmark in November, then we hope to record an album and showcase it at Celtic Connections.”

A January date for an all-female band named after one of Burns’s oft-frequented pubs? Sounds like the stars may well be aligning for The Poozies.

For Feis Na Mara tickets and info go to

For more info on The Poozies including upcoming tour dates see