‘Aly Bain and Jimmy MacBeath – Study for Scotland’s Voices‘ is rich in Scottish music history: ‘Aly Bain MBE remains a globally renowned ambassador for the fiddle music of his native Shetland and indeed for Scottish music in general, through his decades of touring with Boys of the Lough, Phil Cunningham and others, and through the numerous television documentaries in which he has been involved. . . .’ – Jim Gilchrist, from the notes to the ‘Scotland’s Voices’ CD accompanying the exhibition.
Jimmy MacBeath (1894 – 1972) was an incorrigible itinerant labourer, man of the road and gravel-toned performer of a rich store of bothy ballads . . . his fame grew after being recorded by collectors such as [Hamish] Henderson [the central figure in ‘Scotland’s Voices’], who would later recall the sensation MacBeath created among an unsuspecting audience at the 1951 People’s Festival Ceilidh.’ – Jim Gilchrist
In this anniversary year of the end of WW1, I should also acknowledge that at the outbreak of WWI Jimmy ‘Scout’ MacBeath enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders and fought in France and in Flanders.
On leaving the Army in 1920, Jimmy didn’t seek permanent employment, choosing to travel around, seeking casual work wherever he could. During this time, he heard and began to perform the songs of the North East. Carrying in his memory a wide repertoire of ballads and folk songs, he sang at hiring fairs, markets and in the streets to augment his other earnings. With his distinctive voice and sense of humour, Jimmy became an easily recognised character.
There ‘s a great track from Jimmy on the Scotland’s Voices CD accompanying the painting!
Then in 1951 Alan Lomax, came to Scotland from the United States to research and collect folk songs. He and Hamish Henderson first heard Jimmy busking in Elgin. They encouraged Jimmy to perform for them and recorded much of his music. – Background on Jimmy from the website on bothy folk.
Acrylic on paper