17 tracks: Belle Stewart: Ower Yon Hill There Lives a Lassie / Frank and Ruby / Boggie’s Bonnie Belle * Sheila Stewart: The Maid of Culmore / Hatton Woods * Willie MacPhee: Jamie Foyers * Bella Higgins: Late Last Night I Was Asked To A Wedding * Jock White: Tifty’s Annie * Betty (Dolly) White: The Green Bushes * Charlotte Higgins: Jean McLean / Susie Pirate (Lord Bateman) / Lowlands of Lowlands * John Higgins: In A Garden a Lady Walking * Martha Reid: The Elfin Knight / The Banks O Airdery O / I’ll Cut Off My Long Yellow Hair / The Farmer’s Curst Wife / Lord Randal / Falkirk Fair * John MacDonald: The Golden Vanity * John Reid: The Golden Vanity * Willie Townsley: The Tinker’s Waddin * Stewart McPhee: The Tinker’s Waddin * Ruby Kelbie: Bank O Red Roses * Tommy Bonthrone: The Dyin Ploughboy / The Boys of Bayview / The Flower of Strathmore.
This album is released in the year of the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh in 1951. The School is delighted that Maurice Fleming of Blairgowrie, whose collecting forms a very important part of the School Archives, has himself acted as editor. The album includes many of the fine singers Maurice met while on fieldwork in the 1950s in Perthshire. All but one of the singers featured here is a member of the Travelling community, and it is very fitting that the Travellers should be the focus, since their contributions to the School of Scottish Studies Archives have been so central to the understanding of oral culture.
Maurice Fleming was born and educated in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, and went to the same local school that Hamish Henderson attended in his first years. Hamish Henderson was born in a house just along from Maurice’s family home. Maurice recalls: ‘My mother remembered him as a little boy in a kilt, but I knew nothing about him until I met him by chance on a visit to Edinburgh in 1954. As soon as he told me of the collecting work he was engaged in, I was bitten by the bug. Within a few days I had borrowed a tape recorder from the School and was collecting among the Travellers.’
Maurice was lucky to find the Stewart family (the Stewarts of Blair) and held sessions at their home on the other side of the Ericht in Rattray. They invited in Travellers who were in the district for the berrypicking and were camping on farms round about the town. He recorded in other houses as well, becoming great friends with Charlotte and John Higgins. Maurice recorded in their house but also recorded in the open air, wherever he found Travellers willing to sing to him or tell tales. Later he went to Birnam to record Martha Reid and her family and to Pitlochry to meet the Travellers at the Bobbin Mill where they lived.
This collection includes contributions from Belle and Sheila Stewart, Willie MacPhee, Bella Higgins, Charlotte Higgins, Jock White, Betty (Dolly) White, Martha Reid, John MacDonald, Willie Townsley, Stewart McPhee, Ruby Kelbie, Tommy Bonthrone and more.
Special thanks go to Maurice Fleming for editing the album and to Caroline Milligan for research and assistance. Dr Katherine Campbell is the Series Editor. Compiling and mastering was by Peter Haigh of Pier House Studios and the design is by John Slavin of Designfolk. The assistance of Creative Scotland is gratefully acknowledged.