When Paddy Bort died in mid-February, I wrote in my initial tribute that a hole the size of Arthur’s Seat had appeared in the Edinburgh folk scene. Reflecting in the weeks since, as the tributes have been gathered in, it is clear that Paddy’s loss will force something of a shift in the tectonic plates of the folk scene in the city and further afield.
Michael Joseph Ward was born on the 25th November 1950 in Oakley, Fife, though, like his five siblings, he spent much of his life in Dunfermline. A highly intelligent, erudite individual, the educational institutions graced by his presence included Blairs College (near Aberdeen), The Gregorian University and The Scots College in Rome, and Glasgow University. After graduating from there, he entered the teaching profession, and for many years was a teacher of modern languages at Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline. An avid reader, he never stopped learning adding, in adulthood, the Gaelic language to his already impressive list of skills.
On Christmas Day 2016, Ian Davison died. One of Scotland's most prolific and able songmakers in the traditional style, Ian, born in Glasgow in 1939, was captured for the Scottish Folk Revival by a 1957 lecture given in Glasgow’s Partick Burgh Halls by Norman Buchan, one of the three key kick-starters of the Revival. Ian went on to co-found the Glasgow University Folk Club, then to teach English with Norman in Rutherglen Academy, and co-run the Academy’s very influential folk club.
It is with deep sadness we announce that Angus R Grant passed away on 9th October after a short illness. We would like to thank his doctors and the team from St Columba’s Hospice who enabled him to die peacefully at home surrounded by family and close friends. Here follows a short appreciation.
Much has been written and is still to be written about Dave Swarbrick. He was a giant figure making an impact from his first appearances as a teenager through to very recent times. His influence on Folk Rock was huge, but his most enduring musical relationship was his partnership with Martin Carthy. His musical story is well documented including features in previous issues of The Living Tradition.
Steve McGrail, who contributed to The Living Tradition both many articles and editorially for many years until 2010, died after a long illness on 11th May 2016. He had to face early onset Alzheimer’s which he did with dignity and realism. On behalf of the magazine he had interviewed a wide range of singers and instrumentalists from all over the British Isles and Eire.
Duncan MacLennan, founder member and driving force behind Inverness Folk Club and Folk Festival for many years, died quietly on February 1st in Raigmore Hospital after a long illness.
We are sad to hear of the death, on Sat May 28th, of Larry Kearns, original mandolin player with the Oldham Tinkers Folk Group from Lancashire. He had been suffering from cancer for the last few months, and died in Dr Kershaw's Hospice in Oldham, his home town. Although Larry was still active musically at local sessions, he hadn't played with the group for the last 25 years, having taken a step back due to a hand condition which resulted in his being replaced by Mancunian multi-instrumentalist Dave Howard.
The death of Andy M. Stewart on December 27th 2015 has taken from us not just an immensely talented songwriter and performer, but also one of the country’s last remaining traditional singers.
Remembering Roy Harris
A personal tribute by Pete Castle
I was really pleased to be asked to write this appreciation of Roy Harris who I have described as my best mate and my mentor. I could have written a normal, factual obituary, putting in all the dates and achievements, but anyone could do that and it wouldn’t do Roy justice so, instead, I thought I’d write a personal account of our relationship. Being personal, it will paint a slightly different picture to that which others of you might have produced but I think a lot of you, particularly if you are a performer, will find a lot to identify with.