Saturday, November 19, 2011

William MacEwan in 2011

Another man who has been a big help and inspiration to me over recent years is Joe from near Beith in Ayrshire. Earlier this year, and after about 18 months of emailing each other back and forth, I met up with Joe, his wife Jean, and their two grandchildren in Lisburn - they were en route to the west of Ireland to meet up with one of their sons. Joe was kind enough to bring me a load of Ayrshire bricks - and ALL of his William MacEwan 78s. I digitised them all, and on my visit to Scotland in June I returned them all to Joe, and gave him a CD of the digitised versions, and enjoyed the best part of a Saturday with him and Jean. Joe's grandfather used to cycle to Glasgow to listen to William MacEwan sing. So Joe is another man whose influence has driven me to try to tell William MacEwan's story.

Just the other day, Joe sent me an email to tell me about another singer, a Canadian called Henry Burr, who recorded a version of 'My Ain Countrie' in 1911 (the same year MacEwan had recorded it). Here is a link to the Burr recording. Burr went on to join the Peerless Quartet, another group whose gospel 78s I have seen in a few collections here in Ulster. Burr was reared in New Brunswick in Canada, and a quick look at his biography shows that it's very likely he and William MacEwan would have known of each other. Burr recorded 159 cylinders for various record companies between 1904 - 1919. You can listen to them all here.

Back to more MacEwan soon.