A number of different musicians have played and recorded with the group since its foundation and will be featured here.
Current members: Peter Anderson (percussion), Iain Crawford (double bass), Stuart Eydmann (concertina, fiddle), Mark Hayward (fiddle), Rhona MacKay (clarsach), Eddie McGuire (flute), Alastair Savage (fiddle), Rab Wallace (Lowland pipes, Scottish smallpipes)
Previous fiddlers include Jim Dailly 1968 to 1975; Rae Siddall 1976 to 1977; Douglas Lawrence 1978 to 1980; Alastair Fraser 1979; Bob Nelson 1981 to 1982; Peter Pratt 1983; Edna Arthur 1983; Bob Simans 1984; Annaliese Dagg 1996 to 2007. Viola: James Durrant (Tron Theatre ‘Burns Night’ 1986); Annaliese Dagg also played viola from 1996 to 2007.
Previous harpists include Judith Peacock from 1984 to 1999; Mary Ann Kennedy 1983 and 1984; Charles Guard 1977 to 1979. Rhona MacKay played clarsach from 1979 to 1983 and has played from 1999 to present. Eddie McGuire played on a shipyard-cut clarsach (by Mick Broderick and Jim Dailly) from 1974 to 1976 and on an Ian Firth clarsach from 1976 to 1984.
Previous concertina player: Gordon Hotchkiss from 1969 to 1976
Singers with the group have included Mick Broderick, Gordon Hotchkiss, Hamish Henderson, Owen Hand, Maggie Faulds, Rhona MacKay, David Essex, Maggie MacInnes, Kathleen MacDonald, Jo Miller, Mary Ann Kennedy and Sir James MacMillan CBE.
Orchestras performed with: Glasgow Festival Strings (conductor James Durrant); Hong Kong City Chamber Orchestra (conductor David Gwilt); Scottish Chamber Orchestra (premiere, ‘Riverside’); Ayrshire Youth Orchestra (premiere, ‘Ceol Beag, Ceol Mor’).
Pop groups performed with: Alan Darby Band (premiere, ‘Confluence’ 1979); Cutting Crew (1985)
Choirs performed with: Cadenza Singers (premiere, ‘Three Chorales’); RSNO Chorus (conductor Roger Williams) featured Rab Wallace in Eddie McGuire’s ‘Pipes of Peace’ in 1986 and similarly with Aberdeen University Student Chorus in 1999.
Founder member Mick Broderick
Mick Broderick 1941-2009
Born in the safety of the evacuation from Clydebank just a few weeks after the Blitz had devastated his hometown, Mick Broderick often commented that he “had been bombarding audiences ever since”. His songs and tales were imbued with the wartime accounts and experiences of his childhood; the ruins and slow post-war rebuilding left an indelible mark on his formative years. However, it was while working, from his late teens onwards, as a boilermaker and plater in the shipyards of Clydeside that his true skills as a raconteur and storyteller were honed. Billy Connolly has acknowledged the inspiration he gained from Mick’s wit at the time and by the mid-sixties they had – together with Tam Harvey – formed a productive hive of folk revival activity around the Scotia Bar in Glasgow’s east end.
In 1967 he began performing with Jim Daily on fiddle, Mick Murphy on guitar and later, Gordon Hotchkiss on concertina and vocals. He gathered them into a group, and inspired by the poet Freddy Anderson, adopted the name “The Whistlebinkies” after the title of the poetry and song book of the same name published in Glasgow in 1832. And when John, Sandy, Zoe and Geordie McGovern joined in, quite a distinct branch of the folk revival began to blossom. Those years were a hive of radical activities, too, and my first encounter with Mick was on one of several coaches heading to Aldermaston in 1963 for one of the big anti H-Bomb marches to London. As a 14 year old I was overawed by this larger than life character who kept the whole bus laughing through the night with his tales. It was not until 1973 that I got to know him well; with Rab Wallace on pipes and Rhona MacKay on clarsach his songs explored the more traditional Scottish repertoire, but his stories were always on the menu. He had the power to silence and hold the attention of the rowdiest pub!
He was not prolific as a songwriter, but when he did create, it was a gem for a special purpose. His Girl on the Island was dedicated to his late wife Irene when they lived together on Arran; Farewell to Kaustinen was inspired by a festival in Finland and March on Maggie was composed for the 1983 Glasgow to London ‘People’s March for Jobs’. He was proud of winning the approval of his peers by winning the intensely contested Patter Competition at the 1981 Glasgow International Folk Festival. Many of his stories and songs have now been archived on the Raretunes website.
With “this damn band that keeps following me around” he performed in most European countries, including the German Democratic Republic, where uniquely, he recorded an LP in 1976 on the Amiga label. Several recordings for Claddagh Records in Dublin followed, as well as radio and television appearances. He famously duetted with David Essex on the Top Twenty single Are You Still My True Love? in 1979 and plays on the rock title track The Scattering with The Cutting Crew (1988). He was part of the pioneering effort that helped create John Cage’s Scottish Circus, premiered at the Musica Nova festival in Glasgow in 1990. He remembered his most exciting foray abroad as being the Whistlebinkies’ 1991 exchange tour of China – starting in Beijing’s Haidian Hall and ending up at the Hong Kong Folk Festival. He recounted that in Shanghai, children in the street would point and shout “Karl Marx!”, no doubt confused by the large, greying beard. To celebrate his visit to China, Lynn Gray Ross, on Arran, created a special handspun “blue bunnit” which, she recounts, Mick wore most of the time – a bit like Tam O’Shanter who wildly rode “whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet”. Many more anecdotes will be recounted in the years ahead.
To the end he kept up his solidarity with the trades union movement, signing up while in shipbuilding and joining both Equity and the Musicians’ Union as a performer. His last concert was on May Day last year at the fortieth anniversary of Workers magazine in the Conway Hall, London. He made a great effort to get there, where I was privileged to perform with him and the new folk group he had formed with the guitarist and singer, Jimmy Watret. Although he parted from The Whistlebinkies in 1995, we had a reunion in 2004, when he sung with the group on the Tall Ship berthed at Glasgow Harbour. His chosen songs that evening were perhaps his greatest legacy – the old sea shanties he had learned from his seafaring father. He had great hopes for touring again with his new group that he had titled Slip the Lead. His last venture out was to join in the audience warm-up at Oran Mor bar in Glasgow’s west end in April for the shanty-singing RSAMD cast of A Pie, A Play and A Pint. His old friend Joe O’Brien escorted him there and back and I greatly enjoyed some convivial music making with him in the company of Jimmy MacGregor and Sean McGhee.
He is survived by his sister, Anne, his step-children Mandy and Robin, by his companion Bertha and his nephew John who was with him at the end.
Eddie McGuire, July 2009
Hear Mick at raretunes.org
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