Category Archives: Scotland

The Monday Book

The Folk River – Fraser Bruce

Previewed by Jack Beck

I’m married to an author, so it’s hardly surprising that I’ve seen many books as they have gestated.

This one is different, though, because it’s by an old friend who isn’t my wife – –

It is a book that is still in the making, although I (along with many others) have had some input. Fraser wanted to write about a particular period of history in which I played a part – the early days of the emergence of folk song clubs in Scotland in the 1960s.

He started researching and found that many of the accepted stories about those days weren’t really true. Time had played tricks with folks’ memories and an alternative history was beginning to emerge. So he took on the important, but enormous task of writing the real one, by talking directly to the people who had been there and were still around. I was honored to be one.

As I write this the manuscript is being proofed and tidied by another old friend and the finished book should be published later this year.

My contribution has been mostly providing information about the early days of the local folk club in my home town of Dunfermline which started in 1961 and has continued right up to the present.

Many people have supplied Fraser with firsthand accounts of other clubs that sprang up all over Scotland in the early 1960s. It’s clear that the work he has done on this over the last year has been very time consuming but he tells us that he is pleased with the outcome.

The emergence of these Scottish clubs mirrored what was happening in the US and England around the same time, but there was a particular ‘flavor’ to the scene in Scotland.

While my contribution and communication with Fraser has been entirely electronic, I know that earlier last year he traveled all over the country gathering insights from dozens of people.

In addition to the proofing of the text, Pete Heywood of Living Tradition magazine is assembling and scanning a large number of photos which will augment the book.

The book will be welcomed not only by the folk who were part of the story, but also those who have emerged since and kept the folk river flowing. In the words of Hamish Henderson “the carrying stream”.

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Filed under between books, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, publishing, reading, Scotland, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

Another Year – –

Wendy is out in the woods on writing retreat without internet, so you’re stuck with Jack –

It’s my birthday so I’m 79 years old now. Wendy is a bit younger so she has taken to keeping me younger too.

She isn’t here right now as she is on a writing retreat for a few days out in the woods with no internet or phone connection in the wonderful house of a friend.

She works at keeping me mentally active through these blog posts, though, the household chores, our articles for Living Tradition magazine and my radio shows. She also persuades me out on walks with our dog, Bruce, although he is sometimes as unenthusiastic as me.

But she organized a couple of things for my celebration –

She trained me to set up Zoom posts for old friends and the first was earlier today. It worked pretty well and it was wonderful. Talking for an hour with an old colleague that I had shared so many bizarre but important experiences with over twenty years ago.

Tomorrow will be more old musical friends over in Scotland and then I’m responsible for our usual Sunday meeting with folks who have become our closest pals.

As we head out of this bourach I expect my 80th birthday next year to be much more normal, but who knows?


Filed under between books, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch