We stood among the gravestones at Fonab to say our farewells, restricted by law to a gathering of 20, barely a tenth of those who would have wished to have been there, I’m sure. That might have been fine by Jock, though, a man who cared little for fuss, but who cared a great deal for folk. For his folk, for other folk, and for the folk. Gordon junior had piped his grandad’s hearse down the main street past the locals who were spread out by the requisite distance on the Pitlochry pavements.
Geordie McAdam lost his battle with cancer on 28th February 2021 and is deeply mourned by the traditional music community. Originally a flute player, Geordie became a fiddle player of great renown in both the traditional and old timey style. He was also a master craftsman and made an indelible impression on everyone he came in contact with.
Legendary Irish accordion player, Joe Burke, died on 20 February 2021 at the age of 81. Joe, who was without doubt one of the most influential musicians of his generation, was also one of the most loved, and tributes to the man and his music have flowed since his passing.
‘Another man done gone’
Nimble thimble-fingered Pilgrim,
Battered washboard on his knee,
It was with great sadness that the family of Peter Cooke announced his passing on 28th December 2020, aged 90. An internationally renowned ethnomusicologist, musician, musical director, lecturer, founder of forums, archivist, his life’s work embraced and touched a myriad of people. In recognition of his contributions to Scotland’s musical heritage, in 2019 he received the Hamish Henderson Award for Services to Traditional Music.
He was always there. A constant in my life for over half a century and for countless others far and wide. Mick Peat died on January 22nd, aged 80. He will be remembered, of that there is no doubt – but he won’t be there, he won’t be here. My daughter wrote to me after she’d heard: “What do we do now?”
One of my dearest friends passed away on 20th January 2021. Willie Haines and I had worked on many projects over the last couple of decades, including the Scottish Folk Directory and, most recently, Edinburgh's Festival of Ireland. Willie will be sorely missed by his family, friends and fellow musicians both in Scotland and elsewhere.
Sheffield has a fine tradition of folk music and dance and since the folk revival of the 1960s, Gerry Bates, who has died in hospital aged 78 after a short illness, played a large part in it. One of his friends described him as a “folk master” which indeed suited him very well.
Jim was born in Hull. His two brothers both went off to the war at sea. The older, John Henry known as Jack, born in 1922, was at 17 the youngest to qualify as a wireless operator, and Jim said the youngest wireless operator to be lost at sea at any time, when at the age of 18 his ship, S.S. Cree, was torpedoed on 22nd November 1940. Jim’s middle brother Fred had gone to sea in rescue tugs in 1942; called T124T, the men who sailed in them were known as the Tattie Lads!
Renowned fiddle player Brendan McGlinchey died on 25 April at his home in Sussex at the age of 79. He had been ill with cancer for some time. From Armagh, he began learning the fiddle at the age of 12 and by his 20s he was well established as one of the greats in the Irish traditional music scene - developing his own style from listening to a wide variety of players and going on to win many All-Ireland titles.