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'Highlands' Best Party Band' The Mystic Shoes hang up their laces after two decades of tunes with two final shows in Inverness – The Market Bar and Hootananny

By Kyle Walker

FOR almost 20 years, the Mystic Shoes have been at the heart of the Highland nightlife – with the rockers bringing their eclectic selection of classic jams to pubs and festivals and weddings up and down the region.

But even the most beloved shoes someday wear down, and the Mystics are set to hang up their laces for the last time at the end of this month.

Ask drummer Dickie Bills how he feels about the end of the two decade tunesmiths, and he doesn’t pretend as though it isn’t a difficult moment for himself – or the band. “Ach...it’s sad!” he said.

“Yeah, I don’t know – it’s just one of these things. It’s a bummer – can’t be helped, band’s come to a natural end and there was nothing I could do about it.

“I mean, obviously most of us are not going to give up playing. I’m absolutely gutted to be honest with you – we knew this earlier on in the year so I’ve sort of had time to get over it.”

The Mystics – Dickie is joined by Robin Abbot, Fergus Weir and Ewan Dale – brought the party to eager revellers over many years of rock and roll jive.

But even for the veteran rockers, real life eventually got in the way. “it was mutual. We haven’t fallen out or anything, we’re all still really good friends. But basically one member, who was particularly busy in his life with businesses and things, just felt it was in the way. It was too much for him to keep going.

The Mystic Shoes – still talking cobblers after two decades. Picture: Al Donnelly
The Mystic Shoes – still talking cobblers after two decades. Picture: Al Donnelly

“When that person decided to step down, I don’t think they realised that maybe we were going to…” he paused. “I think they thought we’d just get someone else and push on.

“But the rest of us strongly all agreed that it would never really be the same and we would kind of maybe be flogging a dead horse, maybe be looking for something that we were never going to find. So we decided, ‘Ah well, let’s just call it.’”

“So there’s no issues, we totally respect it, we’re all still good pals – funnily enough!” he added, laughing. “It’s the first time I’ve ever come out of a band actually where everybody’s still friends and it’s mutual!”

The band proceeded to cancel most of their gigs for this year. However, two remain – giving the Mystics a chance to say farewell. First up is this Friday’s gig at the Market Bar – a charity event where entry is by donation of supplies for Highland Foodbank.

“I wanted to keep a couple for the end of the year to say thank you to the places that looked after us over the years, like the Market,” Dickie said. “We do have one more at Hoots on Saturday, December 28, and that was just because they were booked anyway.

“But we cancelled all the other ones and just said, ‘Look, can we still keep these so we can have a bit of a blowout at the end – and say thank you?’ You know?”

n The Mystic Shoes play The Market Bar on Friday night. The gig starts at 10.30pm, and entry is by foodbank supplies donation. For more information, search The Mystic Shoes on Facebook.

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