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Macs' Biographies

Ian McCalman

The guy that "retired". Born Edinburgh and lives just south, in Lasswade. Attended Edinburgh School of Art, studying Architecture then The Napier College studying photography. Founded the Macs with Hamish Bayne and Derek Moffat on the first day at Art School and has written around 45 of the Macs' songs. Ian also runs 'Kevock Digital', a highly-regarded recording studio which specialises in acoustic music. For 30 years, Ian took on much of the group's lead singing. He's still highly motivated and is writing, recording and even performing, VERY occasionally. Married, very happily, to Ellen from Denmark.

Stephen Quigg

Born Ardrossan, Ayrshire, lives in Saltcoats. Stephen has produced many solo CDs and is one of the most in-demand musicians in Scotland. His fine singing and unaffected enthusiasm for the music has made him extremely popular wherever he has performed. He plays guitar, mouth organ, bodhran and banjo. Stephen often sings with his wife Pernille and this musical partnership is well worth catching (top tip from Ian). "Sensitive and unique singing voice plus an extremely entertaining presentation".

 Hamish Bayne

Hamish was born to Scottish parents in Nairobi , Kenya. He returned to Scotland and attended Glasgow Academy. After briefly studying engineering, he got a free transfer to The Edinburgh School of Architecture in 1964 and there he met Derek and Ian. The three formed the group and Hamish sang, and played concertina, mandolin and tin whistles. He left the group in 1982, married the lovely Freda and now stays in Orkney making wonderful concertinas.

Nick Keir

Born Edinburgh 14 March 1953.
Died Edinburgh 2 June 2013, aged 60

Nick Keir was born into an established Edinburgh family business, David Keir and Sons and was educated, as his father and elder brother had been, at the Edinburgh Academy. He was never cut out to be a businessman and resolutely pursued his life as a poet and dreamer. He never met the profile of the rugby playing sporting boy, but was delighted to have returned to the school in recent years as guest of honour at the Edinburgh Academy Burns Supper, where he delivered some heart-rending versions of Burns songs.

He was one of the first intake at the new University of Stirling in 1971 and it was there that he developed his performance as a folk singer. He formed the folk-rock band Finn McCuill in 1972 and was recently delighted to find that their two vinyl albums are nowadays rare valuable collectibles. With the Finn McCuill Folkshow he toured Scotland with the poet Norman McCaig and had many wry anecdotes of those times. He then joined the leftist theatre group 7:84.

In 1982, he was invited to join the McCalmans and remained with them for the next 30 years until the band dissolved, touring all over the world as one of the best known and most successful Scottish Traditional acts. In 2004 , together with the group, Nick was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame on the occasion of being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Prize at the Scottish Folk Awards, and in 2005 the group received the Danish Folk Music Prize at the Skagen Festival.

After the McCalmans, Nick performed across Europe with the acclaimed Tolkien Ensemble, presenting a musical spectacular with Sir Christopher Lee in The Lord of the Rings. He also played with the Holbaek Ensemble of Denmark playing an exciting mix of Scots and Irish Traditional music laced with the Baroque of Correlli and Vivaldi.

At the same time, he developed a solo career as a singer-songwriter, his tenor voice featuring beautifully on the collected works of Robert Tannahill and producing 4 CDs, Rumours of Snow, All Over this Town, Fishing Up the Moon and latterly in 2012, while already ill, The Edge of Night to considerable critical acclaim, being named the Album of the Week on Radio Scotland’s Iain Anderson Show. His Edinburgh Fringe shows were regular sell-outs, as he beguiled his audiences with captivating portraits of Edinburgh in song and tale, delivered with his irresistible twinkling charm.

In 2012 he was diagnosed with a serious illness and courageously battled on, delivering his final masterly performance in the Spring of this year at the Queens Hall, the McCalman’s home venue and within yards of where he had grown up and lived nearly all his life.

A modest and infinitely courteous man, his songs and music could capture the spirit of Edinburgh through the eyes of an unashamed romantic. That so many came to the funeral to bid him farewell and then sing together with laughter and tears bore testament to the passing of a gentle , kind soul, a true poet and devoted lover of Edinburgh.

Derek Moffat
Born: 29 June, 1947, in Dundee
Died: 21 October, 2001, in Edinburgh, aged 54

An obituary by Ian McCalman

Derek Moffat had one of the most natural singing voices in the British folk scene and his powerful delivery of Scottish traditional songs was the trademark of The McCalmans, with whom he performed for exactly 37 years. He was known as the quiet member of the group, but at party and pub sessions his deafening interpretations of songs from "South Pacific" and "Oklahoma" surfaced many times where song text accuracy was an absent friend.

Although born in Dundee, he spent almost all his early years in Dysart. He attended Kirkcaldy High School and when he was still a lad he performed at the wonderful Elbow Rooms folk club. It was there, some years later, that we met his sister, Sandra, and their wonderful parents, Cubby and Jimmy.

I met Derek on 6 October, 1964, at the Edinburgh School of Architecture. He was seated to my left and Hamish Bayne was on my right. We started talking about music on that first day and decided to meet for a "musical evening" at my parents' house. Such is fate! Two weeks later we had our first gig, and it was obvious to Hamish and myself that we were on to a good thing with Derek's voice. Hamish was no mean instrumentalist and I could handle a song or two, but the quality was certainly from Derek.

He was also a good painter and the one most likely to succeed in architecture, but his studies got in the way of the music and of course there was no choice - so architecture was bid a fond farewell.

"The Macs" toured the world and Derek enjoyed every second of it. Folk music was his lifeblood and though no traditional session was safe from his Beatles and Buddy Holly interpretations, he had other reasons for liking the job. He was a prolific reader and very knowledgeable about natural history, so whether we were touring in Central American jungles, Australian outback or Arctic wastes, he was in his element. "The biggest frog in the world has yet to be discovered" was one of his pronouncements, which quietened an officers' mess in a Belize rainforest. We were very proud of him.

Derek had his favourite songs over the years, among them "Smuggler", "Seagull Cry", "I Have Seen the Highlands", "The Bells of the Town", "Yellow on the Broom", "Up Wi the Carls O' Dysart" and my personal favourite, "Kirsteen". I could add any song from the Mills Brothers' repertoire that we murdered and now, of course, I have a particular affection for the only song that Derek wrote, "The Back of the Aisler", which was a lovely piece about his childhood in Dysart, composed two years ago.

Derek liked to "party"! Some of his post-gig antics were legendary and I received a lovely e-mail from Mike Harding when he heard the sad news with some of his memories of Derek on tour - but I'm afraid I can't find any that would suit a Scotsman obituary. Having said that, I should stress that he was the consummate professional when it came to performances and touring. So many people read Derek wrong because of his extrovert side, but it is impossible for anyone to survive as a lead singer in a hard-working band for 37 years without a totally professional outlook, with which Derek was undoubtedly blessed. Derek was also blessed with his first marriage earlier this year when, unaware of his illness, he married Karen Bek-Pedersen, his partner of some six years. I had never seen him so happy.

I've had 37 years looking across at Derek singing his heart out and I've enjoyed it more than I can say. He phoned me an hour after he was given the dreadful news of his cancer and told me three things that I will never forget. The first was the news of his illness. The second was his insistence that we would have to start looking for someone else to join the group. The third thing he said was (and I'll miss out the adjective): "Well, I've had a great life."

Derek was "his own man" and had no self-pity when faced with his illness. He didn't "act brave", he was brave, maintaining a wonderful dignity during his last days. We will all miss him greatly.

 

 


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