Thrifty, Clean and Cheap??
Scottish people are often stereotyped in America as being “thrifty, clean and cheap” but this is a misjudgment. Most Scottish people arriving in the New World during the 1800s had been driven from their homes by greedy land owners who believed that they could make more money off the land by rearing sheep. The same thing could be said of the Irish, who were driven off their land by the Potato Famine. Ironically when the Irish arrived in North America, they could only afford to order the cheapest items on restaurant menus, and thus the myth about corned beef and cabbage was born.
Peoples from both countries left their homes involuntary, the Scottish by forced eviction, and the Irish by famine, but fortunately for us, they brought a huge tradition of wonderful music with them. By these strange quirks in history, the New World has been vastly enriched and Scottish Highland Games and Irish Festivals re both features of the U.S. and Canadian cultures.
Generally the tunes brought across the sea retained their original names, but occasionally they were morphed into something quite different, as in Mrs. Mc Leod’s of Raasey, becoming Cotton Eyed Joe. These were minor transgressions, however, and not of vital importance.
Not only are the tunes and songs that were brought over of great historical value, but the original settlers also wrote songs of their suffering and deprivation. Their descendants also did the same thing, all adding to the wonderful diaspora that we have today.
A few weeks ago we spent time at Celtic Connections in Glasgow, a huge festival that was originally designed to fill a gap in the Glasgow Concert Hall schedule, and which has grown into a mega-event featuring over two thousand musicians from around the world, with three hundred events all around the city, over an eighteen day period in January and February. Having done my bit at promoting and hosting music events, I look at Celtic Connections as a logistical adventure of epic proportions, and I salute all those involved in making it such a success. Of the concerts that we attended, my favourite was by a band from Newfoundland called the Dardanelles, and I will review their latest CD Eastern Light produced by John Doyle, at a later date.
Ron Young had the good fortune to grow up in rural Scotland, surrounded by the traditions of Scottish music and dance. He would like readers to know that whatever you heard about that sheep, it’s not true. Ron has spent the better part of thirty years involved with various Celtic and Scottish cultural organizations in southern California, and now back in Aberfeldy where he has continued to pursue his love of traditional music.