Across the books and in person.

Welcome! Since I write two English mystery series, I thought it would be fun to chat about that. And about England. Specifically, Derbyshire, since that is the county I know the best. If you have questions about my books, about mysteries or your own writing, or want to know something about England -- perhaps you're planning a visit -- I'd love to talk with you. Let's start chatting, shall we?

Derbyshire VIllage

Derbyshire VIllage

Monday, September 13, 2010

End of an Era

Wow.  I feel old today.  Plus sad.  I got an email from Stephen Quigg, announcing the retirement of Ian McCalman.  Now, I realize most of you might not know who Stephen and Ian are, much less what retirement is referred to.  Ian McCalman is one third of the founding guys who formed The McCalmans, a Scottish folk singing trio in 1964.  They have been singing non stop ever since!  22 records, toured literally all over the world, several BBC TV shows and radio shows to their credit.  Hamish Bayne, one of the original guys, left the group in the 1990s, to be replaced by Nick Keir.  When Derek Moffat (original member No. 3) died of cancer in 2001, Stephen Quigg joined.

The McCalmans are known for their close three-part harmonies, respect for traditional Scottish music, and great sense of humor on stage.  They also sing very fine contemporary songs which all members, I believe, have written.  They play traditional folk instruments: guitar, bodhran, mandolin, tin whistle, banjo....

When I got Stephen's email today announcing Ian's retirement I had no inkling that Ian was counting down the days.  The date for their last gig is Dec 10 in Edinburgh.  Wish I could be there!

I heard them several times in concert in folk clubs in England.  But my greatest thrill was when the original group came to St Louis for two weeks in 1980.  I acted as their 'US manager' -- unpaid but loving every minute of it -- and had got them performances all over the area.  They stayed with me in my apartment and besides listening to them rehearse (you haven't heard anything until you've heard these three guys let loose in a capella harmony up close and personal!!) we had fun looking at the St Louis tourist attractions (getting their over-six foot frames into the Arch capsules for a ride to the top was a feat.).

I feel old, knowing that Ian is about to retire and the group is folding.  I remember the fun we had thirty years ago.  Thirty years....was I ever that young?  I feel sad because their wonderful music will become another piece of music history via records and CDs and not performed in concert.

This photo is downloaded from a website.  All my photos are slides, so I have to make do with this generic version.  The caption of the photo is "Old Macs" to distinguish the original group from the Stephen and Nick era.  I wish the labeler had written "Original Macs."  It is a more respectful title and one that many of us recall when the McCalmans' name crops up.  The guys, left to right, are Derek Moffat, Ian McCalman, and Hamish Bayne.  This is exactly how I picture them when I think of the Macs.  This is 'my era' guys.

Stephen and Nick are continuing as a duo, Stephen's email announces -- but for me it won't be the same.

Nor, I suspect, for McLaren.  Being my folksinging detective, I have mentioned the McCalmans and some of their songs in both of McLaren's books, Siren Song and Swan Song.  I've also mentioned the Macs in at least two Taylor & Graham books.  Sainted Murder comes to mind -- the scene where Brenna is sitting at a table in the pub and the canned music plays one of the Macs' songs while she's talking to Graham.

For anyone wishing more information on their last concert in Edinburgh, logon to'+Final+Concert   Of course, I can't go, so I may spend that day looking at my slides of them and their introduction to hot dogs on July Fourth....

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