The Duncan McCrone Band

Checking our available records revealed that Duncan has, incredibly, not been to Nitten Folk Club in over 10 years. What were we thinking in not having him back sooner? None of us, not even Duncan, can remember who was in the line up way back then but long time musical partner Cy Jack was almost certainly there. This time around he was also assisted by guitarist Mike Bryan and harmonica legend Fraser Spiers. The Nitten stage was groaning under the weight of instrumentation ,(including a massive pedal board that was nimbly navigated by Mike) and it was a bit of a stretch getting everybody on stage who needed to be there. Once it was all sorted out and everybody was plugged in the show went as smoothly as silk. Compliments to Ronnie, our sound man, who got everything up and running with as little fuss as possible.

Once the show was under way we were reminded of  just why Duncan and Cy are so well respected on the Folk scene: they have a relaxed delivery that immediately puts the audience at ease and they very soon had everyone singing along with Ian Tyson’s classic ‘Four Strong Winds’. The instrumental line up of piano. heavily processed ‘lead’ guitar and wailing harmonica is by no means ‘traditional’ but each member of the band lent sympathetic weight to their performances and the songs never ever felt cluttered. A moving interpretation of Michael Peter Smith’s ‘The Dutchman’ followed – a less familiar song but sung with real heart and sensitivity.

There isn’t the room here to cover every song performed during their two forty-five minute sets but there were a number of highlights. ‘Isle of Hope’ gave Duncan the opportunity to tell the story of Bashir Ahmad, who became the first Muslim MSP in 2007. Michael Marra’s perennial favourite ‘Hermless’ was sung, in ebullient style, by Mike – the entire room, of course, joining in the choruses.  There were, also a few McCrone / Jack originals; ‘Colourblind’  (nothing to do with Darius) was the story of how Duncan’s great grandfather suffered (or rather made his poor wife suffer) for his art. ‘America’, which closed the show described how Duncan was inspired by everything USA in his youth – weren’t we all? An encore was inevitable and a touching adaptation of the ever popular ‘Parting Glass’ was a lovely note on which to close a grand evening of first class entertainment. Haste ye back Duncan. We hope to see you again – in less that 10 years time!!!

The first half floor spots were provided by Ronnie Miller, Neil Dawson and always welcome visitor Hazel Richings. Duties in the second half were handled by Tom and Jane Fairnie and May Weatherston and Janis Duncan (with regular accompanist JimWeatherston), with an impromptu performance from compere Ian Duncan.  Many thanks must go Jim for also handling the drawing of the raffle and to Gillian and Robert who did the ‘running’, handing out the plethora of prizes to the lucky winners.


Next month we welcome to the Nitten Stage the veteran performer Ed Miller. Ed first learned his craft in the pubs and clubs of Edinburgh during the folk revival days of the 1960’s and his repertoire shows the width of that movement. From old traditional ballads and timeless songs of Robert Burns to contemporary songs of urban change, emigration, nationalism and humour. If you like good songs sung well, with a healthy mixture of realism and humour, you won’t want to miss this show.


The Committee