Ewan McVicar His Website
writer, singer, songmaker, storyteller, cultural organiser, publisher
I continue to work with Christine Kydd and Andy Shanks on cultural community and songwriting projects.
Currently developing projects in Easter Ross with Maureen Ross at Balintore Heritage, and in Buchan with the Elphinstone Institute.
I have just punted out to a selected agent a book that I started working on about 15 years ago, '47 Reasons To Hate And Fear Other Drivers'. Short but sharp text, will be better with illustrations.
I have two book proposals out with publishers. One is about traditional singers Jimmie MacBeath and Davie Stewart telling the stories of their lives, plus first hand accounts of life on the road from other Scottish Travellers. The other book is of first-hand accounts of the 1745 Rising from both sides of the bloody divide.
Recent projects have included
An online celebration of 70 years since the 1951 Edinburgh People''s Festival Ceilidh. This tribute to the importance of the event was created with Nathan Salsburgh of ACE, the Alan Lomax Foundation, and had all the 1951 recordings made by Lomax, my notes made for the Rounder Records CD, but most importantly present day recordings of the same songs by Scots singers and groups, plus a couple from further away.
'Looking Behind Our Doors - Who Did What In Kirrie', a project I designed and won Sharing Heritage funding for, working with the Kirriemuir-based Hub which works with dementia sufferers and their carers.
see Kirrie work online at Tales Of The Toon.
'Sin I Cam By Johnshaven', gathering and investigating the rhymes old and new of a coastal village and its hinterland, with an emphasis on the Doric, a three month project (January-March 2019) jointly worked on with Sheena Blackhall, Christine Kydd and Andy Shanks, hosted by Johnshaven Museum's club for people with dementia.
'It Started With A Sack', a celebration with many local communities of their role in creating early co-operatives in Scotland, to mark the 250 anniversary in 2019 of the first food co-operative being started by Scottish weavers, initial commercial funding has been won, seeking more to extend the approach.
I was working up and hoping for action on a project celebrating the work of J T R Ritchie of Norton Park, Edinburgh, in collaboration with Edinburgh Museums, discussions were proving promising, but have lapsed into sleep.
I continue to support Bridge Builders Uganda, the longterm charitable project for street kids I co-run with Ugandan colleagues.
PROUD TO SAY
In 1998 I gained a Master of Science by Research degree with distinction from the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, based on my study of playground rhymes.
In 2015 I was given the Na Trads Hamish Henderson Services To Traditional Music Award.
I have done many things in my 80 years.
I wrote a song that got into the Top Twenty in 1961, then I was a boy banker in Africa, a guitar teacher in the USA, a psychiatric social worker in Scotland. I began to write books, mostly about aspects of Scottish traditional song.
Then came the Songmaker In Schools project, in which I began to visit schools, writing new songs with the kids.
From that came an artistic partnership with African artist Amu Logotse, which led to me becoming a storyteller and project organiser. In 2015 I was startled to be given the Hamish Henderson Award For Services To Traditional Music.
I have told stories or made songs in 200 schools, 50 libraries and 30 museums in Scotland, Russia [where I initiated and ran a Festival Of Scottish Culture], the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, the USA, Uganda, the Czech Republic and England.
I have had six books, many articles and notes for various CD inserts commercially published by others in Scotland and the USA, have published 15+ myself as Gallus Publications, and have created and performed in many shows.
I was born in Inverness, lived in Invergordon then Orkney, did most of my schooling in Dingwall, then lived and worked in Glasgow, London, Uganda, Kenya, South Yemen, the USA, Birmingham, and Glasgow again in 1968. In 1996 we moved to Linlithgow. Over the back wall from our garden was ruined Linlithgow Palace, where Mary Queen of Scots was born. Then we spent half our time in a flat above a bookshop in the little seaport town of Cromarty, just across the Firth from our childhood homes. For the last two years we have lived in Cromarty full-time, in an 18th C cottage with a walled garden.
My song Talking Army Blues spent 13 weeks in the Top Twenty in 1960, performed by Josh Macrae. A couple of my songs for adults (Shift and Spin and All The Tunes In The World) have been widely sung and recorded, and the Singing Kettle children's show have used 20 of my songs.
In 2010 I gathered up a few of my books and turned publisher as Gallus Publications.
In 2012 I developed a project called Collier Tracks that traced and tell of Scots miners here and in Nova Scotia through their songs and stories, and created a show with Siobhan Miller that took the songs to communities in Blantyre, Plean and Newtongrange.
I also gathered up contacts with storytellers in central and eastern Europe for an academic study I was involved with.
For the 2013 bicentenary of David Livingstone I researched and developed several small scale projects under the generic title of Livingstone's Magic Lantern. These included a storyteller-based show about Livingstone and his great friend inventor Paraffin Young with the participation of Scots singer Christine Kydd, and a Highlands-based show about Livingstone and his other close friend geographer Roderick Murchison with the participation of storyteller and musician Bob Pegg.
I have created two websites about Livingstone and Scotland, and published a book titled Rocks In The River about Livingstone's people. The first show was initially performed in West Calder High School beside where Young lived and Livingstone visited. It then went on the St Mungo's Museum Glasgow, and to the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre. It was in October 2013 performed in Glasgow, Mull and Edinburgh as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.
A solo show called A Mountain In My Hand about the linkages between Livingstone and various Highlands places and people was performed in September in Nairn, Gairloch and Thurso, and in October in Fort William.
The Rocks In The River show was performed in Muir of Ord on 23rd November, a solo version was taken to Ormiston, Stenhousemuir and Edinburgh. I also tried to support performances of two vocal works about Livingstone that were made by Scots composer Hamish MacCunn - but without success.
More recently I created for Scotland's National Library another themed show, about Scottish Women In WW1.
I got around to publishing a book - with recordings - of my Pictworks poems and pieces.
Christine Kydd and I as Ceilidhmakers continued to deliver songmaking projects in Aberdeenshire primary schools, most recently along the River Dee. We also delivered in 2017/8 a Telling Our Stories songmaking project in four communities around the Tay Estuary, part of the Tay Landscape Project. And we are helping cclebrate co-operation in Scotland in song over the centuries with the new Scottish Cultural Co-op, beginning with the 1761 Fenwick Weavers who started it all, and in 1769 formed the first documented food co-operative. More recently Andy Shanks has joined us in Ceilidhmakers for work in Kirriemuir, Johnshavenh and Balintore.
In 2016 for the Dingwall Book Festival I wrote and published a booklet on local architect James Joass.
In 2017 I made a book on 'Dingwall On The Waters', and for 2018 a booklet on General Hector McDonald of Ross-shire, the hero of Omdurman.
I have been investigating 19th C Highland ministers who were amateur archaeologists and geologists, and Alexander MacKay of Rhynie, who became a lay missionary in 19th C Uganda.