Jock, since ever I saw your Face – –

Jack is very late this week – – –

One of the good friends I made fairly late in both our lives was the wonderful Jock Duncan. He had been a singer all his life and steeped in the traditions of his native Aberdeenshire, but didn’t record anything until he was seventy years old. His repertoire of ballads and songs were very authentic and rooted in the soil of his land, but he continued to learn new songs written in traditional style

Jock had moved to Pitlochry in Perthshire, where I was hosting a monthly radio show that went out live in the 1990s. Each time I’d finish by asking Jock to put the kettle on. So, many of my radio guests were conducted down the ten minutes to Jock’s house where his wife Frances would set out an impeccable tea with biscuits.

Wendy sometimes went with me and on one occasion I did the usual ‘kettle, tea’ sign off and we headed down to Jock and Frances’ house. What we didn’t know was they’d been visiting their son in Aberfeldy and heard me on the car radio. We arrived to find them as usual with everything ready, but only found out later they’d arrived a few minutes before us! That was what they were – always thinking of others and how to make them welcome.

I remember when Duncan Williamson was my radio guest, taking him to meet Jock and they immediately respected each other as important in the folk revival, despite their very different approaches to the ballads. As usual Duncan was talking while Jock was listening.

Later, when I started doing small group tours of Scotland for Americans I’d make a point of taking them to meet Jock and Frances and though they hardly understood a word Jock said they were always charmed by him and the welcome they received.

RIP Jock – 1925-2021

6 thoughts on “Jock, since ever I saw your Face – –

  1. Och! That last sentence brought me back to the many times we’d drive across the border to Canada to visit my grandfather’s second cousin in her wee hoose near the river. Always tea and tasty bits, excepting that one time with the steak and kidney pie. Maggie laughed and laughed when she saw the little piles of “suspects” left on our plates. And, despite never, ever hearing any trace of accent when my grandfather or his sisters spoke, it always took at least five minutes in that wee hoose before I could understand a word Maggie said. Her hugs needed no translation.

  2. It was a treat, visiting with Jock and hearing him sing, even if the only lyrics I could understand were “the muckin’ o’ Geordie’s byre”.

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