01 The Ballad of Johnny Ramensky (Norman Buchan)
02 The Day We Went to Rothesay O (trade)
Robin Hall featured in the folk revival of the late 1950s in London. Originally from Edinburgh, he was one of a number of Scottish exiles in the capital. He combined with another Scot, Jimmie Macgregor and together they became the most successful folksingers in the country for many years.
Johnny Ramensky was a safecracker who spent more time behind bars than in freedom. His persona was as someone who could escape from any jail - he certainly did escape a few times, but the fact that he spent a total of forty-odd years in prison does not indicate a Houdini-type character!
01 Flowers of Edinburgh/Bonnie Banchory/Roll Her On the Hill/Old Bog Hole
02 Light and Airy/Merry Girls of Dublin/The Fairies Dwelling/Jack Walsh
03 Inveran/Inspector Donald Campbell
04 Lasses Trust In Providence/Da Bressay Light/Road to Holigarth/Sleep Soond Ida Moarnin/Lay Dee At Dee
05 Sarona/The Buck o' the Cabrach/The Gladstone Reel
06 Airdie Lasses/Miss Sally Hunter/Lady Nellie Wemyss/Miss Grace Hay
07 Lord MacDonald's Reel/Over the Isles to America/The Sheepwife
08 Eight Men of Moidart/Banks of Clyde/Stourers Hornpipe/Polwart On the Green
09 Mr Michie/Kirrie Kebbuck/The Auld Wheel
10 Firth House Hornpipe/Shamrock Hornpipe/Lighfoot Hornpipe
11 He Mhairi Ho Mhairi/An T-Altan Dubh/Am Bata Rannach/Balaich An Iasgaich
12 Lord Rosslyn's Fancy/Drummond Castle/Jeanie's Blue Eeen/The Scottish Horse
13 Kelly's Reel/Jackie Colemans' Reel/Shehan's Reel/One of the Boys
14 Archie McKinley/Isabelle MacLean/The Lady in the Bottle
A second collection of tunes from Bob Christie, Gavin McIntyre and Hector McLeod, I estimate this one came out in about 1988.
08 The Auld Alliance/Reginald MacDonald/Donald Blue/Dancing Feet
10 Camirsaveen/The Idle Road/Thady You Gander/Welcome to Cork
11 Major Graham of Inchbrakie/Ladlady of Inver Inn/Lady Charlotte Murray/Farewell to Whisky
12 Off to California/The Kildare Fancy/Morning Fair
13 Fitful Head/Galley Watch/Jack Lock the Prison Door/Da Forefit o' da Ship
14 Frank Thomson/Campbelltown Kiltie's Ball/The Wind That Shakes the Barley
The three fiddlers are Bob Christie, Gavin McIntyre and Hector McLeod, about whom I know nothing. The "Plus Two" are Lex Keith on accordion and Bill Hendry on piano. Keith seems to have been the musical director on this album, and he still performs with his band in Scottish Country Dance circles. This is a lively collection of tunes with a strong fiddle leading sound.
Jimmy MacBeath: Come A' Ye Tramps and Hawkers(1960)
01 Come A' Ye Tramps and Hawkers
02 Nickie Tams
03 The Moss o' Burreldales
04 The Gallant Forty-Twa
Jimmy MacBeath was one of the legendary itinerant singers discovered by Alan Lomax, Hamish Henderson, Kenneth Goldstein and other collectors in the 1950s. His vast repertoire of songs delighted them, and subsequent audiences at folk clubs and festivals. Although this record has quite a few crackles and pops (it is fifty years old after all), the majesty of Jimmy's singing shines through.
01 Take the High Road
02 Donald McGillavry/O'Neill's Cavalry March
A real oddity this. Silly Wizard, one of Scotland's folk supergroups of the 1970s and 80s, recorded a version of the theme tune to a Scottish soap opera called "Take the High Road". A must for collectors, but not essential listening. The B-side of this single is a track taken from their 1979 album So Many Partings.
11 My Wife Is Forever Storming At Me/The Hawthorn Tree of Cawdor/Come Lads, Now Be Ready
12 Caledonia's Wail for Niel Gow/Angus Fraser's Strathspey/Three Sheep's Shanks
This was one of the first Ron Gonnella albums I heard in the 1970s, and I realised I was listening to a very fine fiddler indeed. Originally from Dundee, Gonnella lived and taught for many years in the small Perthshire town of Crieff. Until he married - late in his life - he would sit in his small flat and listen to his precious record collection and practise the fiddle tunes for his next recording. Top Scottish fiddlers such as Duncan Wood and Gregor Borland have told me of their admiration for his skills and techniques, and I think of him as a fiddler's fiddler.
01 Bell's Big Ceilidh Band: An Comhra Donn/The Galway Hornpipe/The Strand
02 The McCalmans: John Barleycorn
03 Aly Bain: Fort Charlotte/Calum Donaldson
04 Chorda: The Lea Rig
05 Dick Gaughan: The Cruel Brother
06 Bell's Chorus: Lowlands Away
07 Liz & Maggie Cruikshank: Sandy Bell's Man
08 The McCalmans: Kirsteen
09 Aly Bain: Crossing the Minch
10 Chorda: Johnny Sangster
11 Dick Gaughan: Sleepytoon
12 Bell's Chorus: Doon In the Wee Room
13 Bell's Big Ceilidh Band: The Lilting Fisherman/Lough Gowna/Sweet Biddy Daly
Sandy Bell's is the name given to a pub in Edinburgh which has been a centre of folk music since the late 1940s. Until recently its official name was The Forest Hills Bar, but it was known by all in the know simply as Sandy Bell's (Sandy Bell never actually existed, but that's beside the point). Many singers and musicians spent time in the bar, which was also a favourite stop-off for touring folk musicians in Edinburgh for a concert. This album dates from 1979 and has a cross-section of some Bell's regulars: Dick Gaughan, Aly Bain, The McCalmans to name a few. Also on the album is the band Chorda - who later metamorphosed into Jock Tamson's Bairns.
01 Col HIDB Grant's Farewell to the Final Instalment/The Austrian Ladies
02 The Foaming Sea/Nancy
03 Dick Head's Delight/The Three Midwives
04 Mrs Macdonald's Lament
05 The Minister's Dog/The Bells of St Luis
06 Seona Dunsmuir
07 Song for Yesterday
08 The Stronsay Waltz/The Marino Waltz
09 Day of the Drover/The Eavesdropper
10 Lorne Leader
11 The Old Mountian Road/The Haggis/The Blashie Night
After Knowe o' Deil's final album in 1987, Ivan Drever's partner Ian Cooper changed direction and "went on to do other things". Ivan Drever (vocals, cittern, guitar, whistle, mandola) soon teamed up with Dick Clarke (guitar, vocal, harmonica, keyboards, bodhran) from Skye, who had recently returned to Scotland after working down south as an actor and session musician. He joined the Easter Ross folk group Black Donald, and established a violin-selling business which trades to this day.
Jean Redpath & Alastair Hardie: The Scottish Fiddle, The Music & Songs(1985)
01 The Cradle Song
02 Niel Gow's Lamentation for Abercairney
03 The Lowlands of Holland
04 Through the Wood, Laddie
05 Nathaniel Gow's Lament for the Death of His Brother/Willie Duncan/Mrs Dundas of Arniston
06 The Birks of Aberfeldy
07 I'm A' Doun for Lack o' Johnnie
08 Caledonia's Wail for Niel Gow/Niel Gow's Style/The Heiress
09 A Wee Bird Cam' To Oor Ha' Door
10 Highland Harry
11 The Flower o' the Quern
12 Niel Gow's Lament for the Death of his Second Wife
A collaboration between one of Scotland's international ambassadors of folksong and a well-respected musician from a line of fiddle players dating back to the eighteenth century. Jean Redpath and Alastair Hardie bring us an album of fiddle music and songs related to fiddle music, with American cellist Abby Newton adding an authentic bass sound - it was common in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries for fiddlers to be accompanied by a cello; the LP cover shows a painting of Niel Gow playing with his brother Donald on cello.
The Lowland Folk Four: Eh'll Tell the Boaby(Waverley, 1967)
01 The Pear Tree
02 The Balaena
03 The Battle of Harlaw
04 Kilgannon Mountain
05 The Jute Mill Song
06 Cauld Kail In Aberdeen
07 Children's Street Songs
08 The Standard of the Braes o' Mar
09 When I Was New But Sweet Sixteen
10 The Spinner's Wedding
11 Mingulay Boat Song
12 The Seasons
13 The Tailor's Breeches
This group were stalwarts of the Dundee folk scene of the 1960s and 70s. Led by Stuart Brown, supplemented by his wife Anne and his brother Ramsay, with occasional fourth members through the years (the fiddler/mandolinist Allan Barty was one of the regular "fourth members"). The group recorded three LPs that I know about: this one from 1967, Time to be Singing Again from 1984, and This Is Lowland Folk from 1988. I think there may have been a CD, but I can't remember off-hand. They also featured on a compilation record from 1986, Coorse and Fine, a collection of Dundee songs released to coincide with Nigel Gatherer's book Songs and Ballads of Dundee.
Lowland Folk - also known as The Lowland Folk Four - formed in the 1960s in their native Dundee. The Fifie was a steam boat which took people from Dundee to Fife and back before the construction of the Tay Road Bridge; the song was written by renowned Dundee singer Sheena Wellington. Folk singer Watt Nicol also wrote a song in praise of the much-loved ferry. Also featured on the record is occasional Lowland Folk member Allan Barty.
01 Queuin' At the Fifie Pier (Newport Braes)
02 Eh'll Tell the Boaby etc (Street Song Medley)
01 The Wark o' the Weavers
02 Balloo Baleery
03 Johnny Lad
04 The Wreck of the John B
05 The Wee Magic Stane (McAvoy)
The Reivers were formed in 1958 when three young singers, members of Norman Buchan's famous folksong club, got together to perform on Scottish Television's Jig Time programme. Enoch Kent later joined The Exiles and subsequently moved to Canada where he still sings Scots song. I don't know much about Rena Swankie, though I see someone mentioned on Mudcat that it was she who played guitar on Josh MacRae's hit Messing About on the River (1962). MacRae himself followed the producer and songwriter Tony Hatch (who wrote "River") to Pye Records and had a number of hits, somewhat contrary his earlier activities with the "Glasgow Eskimos" - a group of singers who were active in protesting the US nuclear presence in Scotland. MacRae killed himself in 1977. This EP dates from 1959.
12. Roxburgh Castle/Staten Island/Kate Dalrymple/Soldier’s Joy/High Road to Linton
13. Sir Walter Douglas/Barren Rocks of Aden
Farquhar MacRae (Roshven)
14. Sandy Cameron/The Mason’s Apron
15. Traditional Highland Airs
Sandy & Andy Brown (Fife)
16. Earl of Dalhousie/Da Tushkar
17. Jolly Boys
18. John MacFadyen of Melfort
Here is the second compilation of odd tracks from various LPs in my collection. Once again, the majority are from fiddle competitions in the late 1970s, notably the Golden Fiddle Awards. Most of the fiddlers have not been featured in this blog before, Yla Steven and Bill Brian being the exceptions. However, the fiddling is still of a high standard, and it's worth giving it a listen.
I have a number of vinyl LPs on which there may be one or two tracks of solo fiddling, the rest being a fiddle orchestra or concert party or other stuff not worth posting. I have compiled these tracks into collections of solo fiddle playing recordings, and they may be of interest to you, as they give an opportunity of hearing recordings to which they would not normally have access.
The two fiddlers on Volume 1 - Angus Cameron and Douglas Montgomery - have between them won most of the fiddling contests in Scotland, including the Golden Fiddle Award of the 1970s and 80s; and both featured highly in the prestigious 1977 ‘National Fiddle Championships’ (when Montgomery was still at school).
01 Balmoral Castle/Glenlivet/David Adams
02 Comps to Alex Webster/Mrs Garden of Troup/Carnie's Canter
03 Duke of Fife's Welcome/Forth Bridge/Forth Bridge
04 Dumbarton Castle/Marquis of Huntly's Farewell/Left/Handed Fiddler
05 H Mackworth/Eugene Stratton
06 Marquis of Huntly's Farewell/John McNeill
07 Scott Skinner's Comps/South of the Grampians/John McNeill's
08 The Last Minute/The Claymore/The Claymore
09 Duke of Fife's Welcome to Deeside/Stirling Castle/The Bride's Reel
10 Braes of Castle Grant/Craigellachie Brig/Sir David Davidson of Cantray
11 Caledonia's Wail for Niel Gow
12 Leaving Glenurquhart/Bob Steel/Pretty Peggy
13 McLean of Pennycross/Highlands of Banffshire/Carnie's Canter
14 Lament for Abercairney
15 Mrs HL macDonald of Dunach/Earl Gray/Marquis of Tullibardine
From the first scratchy tracks, you can tell that while this record is almost fifty years old, it is powerful. Not Scottish music by any means, but one of Scotland's most widely travelled and best known folk singers, Alex Campbell. Joining him on this session are some top musicians: Royd Rivers playing terrific harmonica, Gerry Loughran on guitar, Ian McCann on mandola, mandolin and autoharp, and Dave Laibman on guitar and banjo. Laibman was from Ohio originally, but studied at Oxford at the time this LP was recorded. Best known for his academic work in the field of Marxisim, he was also regarded as a pioneer in ragtime guitar, eventually recording albums in the US for Folkways, Rounder, etc, and publishing an instruction book. This album is enhanced by Laibman's outstanding guitar; check out Orange Blossom Special and Railroad Bill for examples.
Iain McLachlan and Fergie MacDonald: Kings of the Button Keyed Box (1987)
The late button accordionist Iain McLachlan of Benbecula is most famous for composing Dr Mackay's Farewell to Creagorry, which later become better known as The Dark Island. Not one for travelling a great deal, McLachlan lived all his life on the island. He had a great friendship with Fergie MacDonald, who regarded him as 'the greatest three-row button-box player in the Highlands and Islands'. In 1987 they finally got together and recorded this two-hander album, each taking seven tracks and duetting on the final one. Joining Iain and Fergie are John Carmichael on second accordion, David Flockhart on piano, the late Billy Thom on drums and Alasdair Macleod on bass.
After the group's debut LP, 1966's Freedom Come All Ye, the follow-up was released in 1967. Although this is a poor recording - recorded from a scratched record with some beginnings of tracks cropped - it is important because it's such a rare album. This is the only recording on The Music Gatherer so far which was not recorded from my collection (I downloaded this from an anarchist blog -fiddler Bobby Campbell was a communist) and I've posted it here because I've never seen it anywhere else. If I ever do find a copy, I'll make a better recording.
Formed in 1964, The Exiles were Bobby Campbell (fiddle, mandola, mandolin, guitar, vocals),Enoch Kent(whistle, vocals), and Gordon McCulloch(guitar, banjo, harmonica, vocals). So named because the three, from Glasgow, were living and working in London. Campbell died in 1997, while Kent still sings in his adopted Canada.
There were a number of highly successful folk concerts in Edinburgh in the early 1960s, with many visiting singers and musicians travelling from England and Ireland including Barney McKenna, Luke Kelly (both of The Dubliners), Nadia Cattouse, Roy Guest, The Ian Campbell Folk Group and so on. This album, Hoot'nanny Vol.2, is one of a number of similar releases from this time, and is a gem for those interested in the folk music revival era. The compere of the show was journalist W Gordon Smith.
01 Roy Guest: Kellyburn Braes
02 Ray and Archie Fisher: Johnny I Hardly Knew You
03 Eleanor Leith: John Riley
04 Barney McKenna: The Mason's Apron
05 Roy Guest: Strangest Dream
06 Ray & Archie Fisher: The Blackleg Miner
07 Eleanor Leith: The Water Is Wide
08 The Corrie Folk Trio and Paddie Bell: The Roving Ploughboy
11 Golden Harvest*/Comps to Ian Powrie*/Lass o' Corrie's Mill/Mrs Agnes Watt
12 Scott Skinner's Cradle Song/Thrums Cairn
13 Miss Delicia Chisholm/Gay Gordons
14 Stool of Repentance/Jackson's Jig/Maids on the Green/Frost is All Over
In 1921 Angus Fitchet from Dundee was taken by his fiddler father to see James Scott Skinner perform at the Caird Hall. It changed his life and from that day he practised playing along with Skinner's 78rpm recordings. By 1931 he was recording for Beltona Records and thus began a long and successful recording and performing career. As well as his own bands, Fitchet played with many of the great musicians and bands of his day: Jimmy Shand, Will Starr, Robert Wilson, Jimmy Blue, Andy Stewart, Bobby Crowe, etc.
This album does not have much solo fiddling, disappointingly; it's very much a band recording, but it has Fitchet's spirit in it and includes many of his compositions (marked *).
Black Donald were David "Dagger Gordon (cittern, mandolin, banjo, whistles),Iain MacBeath(fiddle) and Ian MacDonald(vocals, guitar). The played around the north of Scotland for a few years but this was their only recording. Dagger Gordon released the first Scottish mandolin recording - Highland Mandolin in 1988 - and was involved with the group Highland Connection and the Donald Dubh ceilidh band (Donald Dubh - Scots gaelic, translates as Black Donald). Jim Sutherland of Mirk and The Easy Club also played on the album.
10 Bonnie Flora/Farewell to Skye/My Love, the Maiden Fair
11 Duke of Atholl/Wee Murdie/Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre/Jean Ireland
12 Morag Made the Wedding/The Whisky Man/Wee Man from Skye/Calum Beag
13 Duke of Perth/This Is Nae My Ain Lassie/Caddum Wood/Rakes of Mallow
Button accordionist Fergie MacDonald is held with considerable affection in Scotland, celebrated for basic hard-core ceilidh music. His band was formed in 1960, and this early recording (his second album after Dance To Your Partner") probably dates from around 1966, when Fergie was resident at the Highlanders' Institute in Glasgow. Over twenty albums followed this, and Fergie is as much listened to today as he ever was.