To some it may seem strange that a man from Edinburgh, Scotland, who lives in Austin, Texas, should make a record for a company in the Connecticut Berkshires — but for a singer who is as likely to appear at a folk festival in Kerrville as one in Auchtermuchty or to be heard singing songs by anyone from Bill Neely to Hamish Henderson, nothing is unusual.
Ed doesn't come from a family with a tradition of singing; he is a product of the 1960's Scottish folk revival — progressing from sessions in Edinburgh pubs to the Edinburgh University Folksong Society and to appearances in folk clubs throughout central Scotland.
In 1968 he came to the U.S. "for a year or so" to do graduate work in Geography and later in Folklore at the University of Texas in Austin. Other than a three year stay in Amsterdam in the late 1970's and frequent visits to Scotland, Austin has remained his home base ever since. Over the years he has been a student, a University teacher, the host of a folk music show on an NPR radio station, a housepainter, and even a tour guide for American groups visiting Scotland. The one constant, however, has been his singing, with regular gigs in Austin and tours throughout the rest of the U.S. to perform everywhere from folk clubs and festivals to Highland Games.
Despite his fascination with the incredible wealth of singer/songwriters in Austin (such as Butch Hancock, Townes van Zandt and Guy Clark) and to whose songs his rich voice is well suited, he has continued to look to Scotland for most of his repertoire and has thereby maintained a unique niche in the vigorous and varied Austin music scene. A fine singer of traditional Scots songs, he is even more attracted to the "new folksongs" of the folk revival by such writers as Adam McNaughtan, Jack Foley, John Watt and Matt Armour who are continuing the tradition with songs about contemporary subjects and concerns.
Ed says that his choice of songs is also influenced by "hearing a good song, sung well, by a singer I like" — and these would include Archie Fisher, Jimmy Hutchison, Jim Reid and Al O'Donnell, to name but a few. He also admits that he has "learnt much more about my country since leaving it," so perhaps his singing is as much a way of maintaining his Scots identity as it is a way of delighting folksong audiences in both his native and his adopted countries.
Folk-Legacy is certainly delighted to have the opportunity to introduce this excellent singer to an even wider audience than that which he has already developed in the United States.
This record has been a long time coming and I owe thanks to too many people to name them all. However, special thanks are due: to Bill and Dorothy Eddy and Eileen Condon for introducing me to the Patons of Folk-Legacy.
To all the friends and amigos in Edinburgh and Austin, and places in between, who have provided hospitality, support, friendship and love over the years to this traveller.
To the singers, old and young, of the Scottish folk festivals and clubs from whom I have learned.
To Rich Brotherton and Pipo Hernandez, my musical compadres of late who continue to be an inspiration; especially to Rich for his patience, perseverance and musical brilliance in producing and playing on much of this record.
To Nora por todo.
This record is dedicated to the memory of Eddie Miller (1908-1988) to whom I owe my Border background.