Houlies (noun) - wild, drunken brawls, especially at Penny Weddings.
The Houlies formed in 2017, when like-minded musicians with a love of traditional music came together from across the North-East of Scotland. A four-piece ceilidh band, The Houlies deliver a modern, funky, and energetic sound more in keeping with that of a contemporary trad group than a Scottish Country Dance band. All of the band members come from a background of classical training and have extensive and varied experience of playing at both concerts and functions, so you can be confident that your event is in safe hands.
Over the last few years we have built a reputation for being one of the most energetic and modern sounding ceilidh bands Scotland has to offer - with a combination of fun dances, expert calling and modern traditional music ensuring that even the most reluctant dancer finds themselves drawn to the dance floor. A ceilidh with The Houlies consists of all of the classic dances, such as the Gay Gordons and the Dashing White Sergeant, as well as more modern and fast-paced dances such as the Riverside and Hoolichan Jig. We call all of the dances, which allows anyone, with any level of ceilidh experience to enjoy themselves.
Although originally formed in Aberdeen, the band is now primarily based in Edinburgh - with band members studying at Universities and Conservatoires in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Despite this, we still frequent venues throughout the North East of Scotland - particularly when we return home for the summer wedding season. We also love to travel to play - so if you would love us to play at your event in a location far from Scotland please don’t hesitate to be in touch! We welcome enquiries from overseas, and all band members have overseas touring experience.
The Houlies provide their own high-end sound equipment for every event which they play at, which ensures that they sound great, and that those listening and dancing have the best possible experience. The band is also fully insured with Public Liability Insurance, to provide peace of mind.
Aoife Dreelan - Fiddle
Aoife has been playing the fiddle from the age of seven and has performed with many orchestras throughout this time. Notably she has been a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, and has toured to Prague, Budapest and Kraków to play. She also plays regularly in traditional fiddle groups and holds a grade 8 in violin from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.
Lisa Abraham - Fiddle
Lisa has been playing the fiddle for over 10 years and in 2018, she passed her Diploma of The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music with distinction. She has played in several orchestras across Scotland including the Aberdeen Chamber Orchestra, Grampian Youth Orchestra, and has toured with the acclaimed National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. Though classically trained, Lisa has played in ceilidh bands for 7 years.
Sam Hay - Keys/Caller
Sam has played the piano since the age of 6, and passed his grade 8 piano with distinction in 2018. Over the last 7 years, he has played with various ceilidh bands, and this has provided him with much experience of playing at weddings and events. Outside of Scotland, Sam has toured to Canada, Italy and Spain to play. Sam's musical interests extend beyond the traditional genre, and he received an Advanced Diploma in Jazz from St Andrews University in 2018. As well as playing keys with the band, Sam calls all of the dances, keeping everyone right!
Richard Glassby - Drum Kit
Richard started playing drums whilst he was at school, before studying a degree in Music Education at Aberdeen University. During his time at university, Richard enjoyed a variety of cross-genre playing opportunities, frequently performing with ensembles and in the pit for theatre productions. Richard's main focus is Jazz music, and in recent years he has played for the Aberdeen Jazz Orchestra and Hamlet, Receiving an Advanced Diploma in Jazz from St Andrews University in 2018. Richard is currently studying a postgraduate degree in Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Ruaridh de Gruyther• Feb. 1, 2020
The Houlies were fantastic. Prompt, well organised, happy to be flexible when timings on the night slipped, and above all that, wonderful musicians!
Cathleen Tait• July 1, 2019
Excellent band and would thoroughly recommend. Booked for my daughter’s 21st birthday. Great!!
Genevieve Marsh-Feiley• June 16, 2019
The Houlies played at my wedding in June and were absolutely fantastic. They were thoughtful and helpful from the outset when I first contacted them, they were willing to change schedule around due to my indecision! When they played they were amazing, Sam's calling through the Ceilidh was so clear, even though we were very terrible dancers we all had a whale of a time, meanwhile the standard of the music was so high! So many people came and complemented them during and long after the wedding they are a talented group of people! I could not recommend them highly enough!
Donna Taylor• April 1, 2019
I worked with The Houlies on a wedding in 2018. In the run up to the big day, I found them to be timely and professional with correspondence. On the day, they were fantastic! They had everyone on the floor all night, they were great at calling the dances, they were fun and very lovely people to boot. Would highly recommend!
Seumas Thompson• March 23, 2019
Great band. Had The Houlies for two years now at our end of year club ball. Flexible and easy with booking and great on the night! Nothing more to ask for.
Frankie Taylor• Jan. 31, 2019
I just wanted to thank you and your fellow members for such a fun evening on Friday at Wardhill … we all thoroughly enjoyed the Houlies and it was a fantastic way to spend Issy’s birthday and, of course, Burns night.
Services From The Houlies
3 Hour Ceilidh
2 Hour Ceilidh
Please, describe your act or business in on sentence:
The Houlies are a young, energetic, and professional ceilidh band.
What are the highlights of your career?
We've had the pleasure of celebrating many special weddings, birthdays, graduations and other milestones with some amazing people. We love our job!
What kind of events do you usually serve?
Weddings, University Balls, Private Functions, Corporate Events.
Who are your previous clients?
Couples, families, universities and university societies, businesses, community groups.
How can event planners pay for your services?
Usually bank transfer and credit/debit card. In some circumstances we accept PayPal (usually when our client is based overseas).
How long do you play for?
We usually play for up to 3 hours of ceilidh, and can follow or intersperse this with a DJ set for as long as you would like. We can also provide background music for events, for as long as required.
Do you have your own PA and lighting?
We have a high-end sound system, which ensures that we sound great for every event - and can cater comfortably to events of up to 300 guests. For very large events with over 300 guests, we may need to hire additional equipment - but events of this size tend to have a sound team anyway, and we are more than happy to liaise with them!
Do you have Public Liability Insurance and PAT tested equipment?
Yes! All of our equipment is PAT tested annually, and we are fully insured through the Musicians Union.
How much space do you require?
Ideally 3m x 6m, but we can adapt to suit!
My favourite tune is not on your list. Will you be able to play it?
If there is a particular song you would like played, perhaps for a first dance at your wedding, please let us know! If it works with our line up of instruments, we will learn it. If it doesn't work when arranged for our instruments, we can play the recorded song through our PA system
How many breaks do you take? How long are they?
We usually take a 30 minute break halfway through the ceilidh, but leave a playlist playing through our PA system.
My guests have never been to a ceilidh before, is that ok?
Absolutely! We love teaching and playing for first time ceilidh dancers! We will call all of the dances at a pace suitable for your guests, and are always on hand to keep people right should they get confused. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that everyone enjoys themselves, and we do not enforce strict dancing rules! Furthermore, nationality and language is no barrier as we frequently play for guests travelling from all over the world - with past guests coming from as far as America, Australia, Russia and Greece.
How long do you need to set up?
We usually require an hour and a half to set up our equipment and soundcheck, but this can be done in an hour if necessary. We always prefer to set up before your guests arrive.
Dashing white sergeant
Strip the willow
Military Two Step
Cumberland square eight
Canadian barn dance
Orcadian strip the willow
Auld lang syne