The title of this EP — "Walkin', Talkin', Singin'," might equally have been called "Teachin', Paintin', Drawin'," for JOSH MACRAE does all these things with equal skill and enthusiasm.
Born in Glasgow in 1935, Josh was educated there and eventually gained a Diploma of Art in 1956, graduating from the Glasgow School of Art. After his military service, Josh started teaching in Scotland, and is in fact still doing so!
Always interested in negro blues singing, after the War Josh started to accumulate a vast repertoire in this field.
Early in 1958, Josh joined folk-singers (Enoch) Kent, Anderson and Swankie to form the original Reivers folk song group, which televised every week on Scottish Television. At the end of the season the group played many one night stands around the country; then re-formed as a trio (Josh, Kent and Swankie) which played another winter with Scottish T.V. and several weeks at various towns (including a 6 weeks season-topping the bill at Glasgow's Pavilion Theatre).
At this stage Josh made his break with the group and went solo, cutting several records, one of which made the Top Twenty and stayed there for several weeks.
Many people hold the opinion that to sing the blues "authentically" you have to have dark skin and come from Louisiana. Josh Macrae comes from Scotland, and is so "authentic" that his tapes have been used in a BBC programme by such a great blues connoisseur as Alan Lomax.
"Walkin', Talkin', Singin'" features Josh in some of the folksongs with which he has had great success. They are songs on all aspects of life; travelling-hence the Walkin'; some he talks, and some he sings. Titles on this record are "Old Blue", "Talking Dust Bowl Blues", "Arkansas Rambler" and a Country and Western number — "Rocky Mountain Belle" — the only title on which he is accompanied by a backing.
JOSH McRAE is one of a small group of folk-singers who for the past few years have been leading a revival of folk-song in Scotland. He is a founder member of The Reivers, the folk-song group known to millions of Scots for their weekly appearances on Scottish Television's programme, Jig Time.
Josh, however, owes his development as a singer not only to his own Gaelic ancestry, and by listening to, and learning from, the great Scottish traditional singers, but also to his study of such American artists as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie.
To all his songs, wherever they come from, he applies the same artistic integrity and understanding. Twenty-seven-years-old, a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, Josh is by day an art teacher. At night, however, his home in Glasgow becomes a kind of song workshop where most of the young folk singers of the city meet to listen, to learn and to sing.
Champion at Keepin' 'em Rollin'
A new song in the folk-song idiom. First written by Ewan MacColl for a radio documentary in 1949, it has since established itself both among the long-distance lorry drivers themselves and among British folk-singers. It is perhaps the most successful of all recent work songs. The tune is the traditional Irish The Limerick Rake.
The Irish are like the Scots; wherever they go, a ceilidh starts. This Newfoundland song of a riotous evening, clearly shows the influence of the Irish immigrants in more ways than one.
The Day We Went To Rothesay, Oh
This street/music-hall song is almost the anthem of a beloved Glasgow institution — going doon the watter. Every Fair (the Glasgow Holiday period) sees thousands of Glaswegians going down the river to the resorts on the beautiful Clyde estuary. This song tells the story of one fantastic weekend in what, despite the ribald comments, remains the Mecca of the exodus, the town of Rothesay. The tune is the much older The Tinklers Waddin.
A satirical ballad of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. Sir John Cope was the general in command of the unfortunate English Army at Prestonpans. He and his men were routed in a five minutes battle by one wild and contemptuous charge of Bonnie Prince Charlie's Highlanders. Hence the song.