The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #142469   Message #3295003
Posted By: Vic Smith
23-Jan-12 - 11:14 AM
Thread Name: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
The Scots travellers were some of the finest singers of Country & Western songs that I have ever heard in these islands. Around 1972 I remember that Sheila Stewart was at our table at the Kirklands Hotel in Kinross at one late late session during a TMSA festival. It must have been sometime after 2am and through a haze of alcohol I can remember that Aly Bain, Tom Anderson and Peerie Willie Johnson playing some Eddie Lang/Stephan Grappelli/Django-style jazz and people were enjoying it but blethering away over it. Aly Bain then announced, "Ye'll hae tae listen now. I gonna' call up oor wee lassie vocalist." Up struggles Jane Turriff on her crutches and with the trio accompanying her she sings a selection of Jimmy Rodgers songs - complete with really excellent yodelling. Sheila noticed how much I was enjoying it and said, "A' the travellers love Country & Western, Vic. It's what we sing maist efter oor ain sangs."

Next morning, Jane Turriff was in a concert singing her ballads in a way that sent shivers down my spine. She was only one of the great singers who could sing both styles without compromising the other.

Another time, during a Blairgowrie Festival, Tina and I were at a ceilidh at the Stewarts house in Rattray which had all their freens which included many of the great Scots traveller singers, Whytes, Stewarts, Higginses, McPhees etc. Amongst the large crowd there were a handful of young folk enthusiasts. Shuggie (Hugh) Higgins latched on to Tina and I knowing the sort of people we were and said, "I've got just the sang that you two would enjoy; and with a twinkle in his eye he launched into:-
South of the Border.
Down Mexico Way.....

He was looking at us all the time he was singing to gauge our reaction. He finished the song and then said, "Now, what do you think of that?" As far as I remember, I said something to the effect that my mum has a recording of Frank Sinatra singing that song, but that I preferred his way with it. Whatever I said, it must have be the right sort of response, because he then said something like, "Well, here's something that you will enjoy" and sang a stunning version of The False Knight On the Road. I remember thing that though I had my cassette recorder with me that it would have been inappropriate to get it out at that point.

The travellers were cute. They knew what they had; they knew what was important but it didn't stop then enjoying and indulging in other aspects of popular culture. And certainly, time after time, I felt myself being tested out to see what my reaction would be, just as I was in the example that I have given.