[JT] Oh my god. Eh. Exercise
and a, I learnt Clive [Powell] tae dee a' that, he can do
it an a' [marching]. But you learn it quick. Far am I noo?
I canna get a note, na. Far the heck is. Na can't find it.
What's that tune again that
I was playin? Eh
Ye ken that een, you can do that een?
Keep time to the music.
At's good, ye're doing well!
[TM] Getting there.
[JT] You've tae keep tae
the music, the sound o the music. And mak ??? and keep time
Noo is is, you've to do this
quick. It's a bothy tune, a bothy tune
. And you could
go, and you get in the way of it. The feelin of the march.
Cause I hid Leahandrai doin't.
At's good. Now. Eh, eh. If
I could get a richt march.
Now [hums tune; plays melodion]
Very good! You kept time tae at een! Aye, ye
kept going at at. My god, I used tae hae the [tape unclear].
[plays melodion and sings (impossible to make out)]
There's anither verse:
And put the blame at Peter Broon
And let MacPherson free.
It wisnae Macpherson. Macpherson got blamed
for stealin sheep, and in those days you got hanged. For stealin.
But it wisnae him. That put the blame on Peter Broon and let
Macpherson free. And that's the end o that song.
[TM] That's a true story though, isn't it?
[JT] Aye. True. He was brave when he played
the fiddle and that eh? [tape unclear]
[TM] Did you ever hear anything about the clock
being in Fishie?
[JT] The clock at Fetterangus?
[TM] There was something about the clock that was in Banff.
[JT] Oh yes, aye. I heard my mither spikkin
aboot it. It was at the wrang time or something, the clock
was fast or something.
[TM] Well they were going to hang him at a certain
[TM] And they set the clocks forward so they
could hang him sooner.
[JT] Yes, aye.
[TM] But I heard something about that clock
being in Fishie?
[JT] Aye, uh huh. Oh?
[TM] Being brought down from Banff to Fishie.
[JT] It could be.
[TM] But I don't know when.
[JT] Aye, it could be. I heard my mother spikkin
aboot the clock at Banff. And eh, and at. And at, I've heard
her singin, put the blame on Peter Broon and let Macpherson
free. Supposed to be it wisnae Macpherson, but I dinna ken,
but I've heard em singin it onywey. So, it goes. Now great
old songs, do you like songs?
[TM] Oh yes.
[JT] I love those songs.
[TM] There's another verse as well about the
The reprieve was comin ower the field at Banff,
the brig at Banff,
To set Macpherson free,
And they set their clocks a quarter for'd
And they hanged him from a tree.
[JT] On a tree, aye. Uh huh. Well nowadays he'd
a got aff ye see. There's no hanging now. But my goodness,
they hanged ye for stealin. I'd heard my mother singin't.
I heard my father play it on the fiddle an a ye ken. That
auld fiddle my dad used to play, that's memories too. Memories
o my father. Yes. He'd that fiddle oot ???. And aye fine,
he wis an affa man if the fiddle wasnae played richt! He used
tae try and mak the fiddle play better. And he did. He could,
he could swap fiddles and he could scrape fiddles tae mak
em [sound better]
. You know, the soond wisnae richt,
he'd try and mak the soon better. Just like a drum
[TM] So you'd scrape bits of the wood of to
[JT] Yes, yeah.
[JT] Scraped, scraped inside
o the fiddle
. My father hid three fiddles. My dad hid
three fiddles and eh, no I don't know who got the two bonny
fiddles that hid cases. That wis the one that hang up on the
wall, and if ye broke the string, you know, of the fiddles
he played, he took the string off of there and put it on the
good fiddles. But at's an auld fiddle at. I might get something
[TM] Was he a good fiddler.
[JT] Ah, my dad could play eh, fast tunes, quick
tunes. Slow tunes and a'. Aye, he's music mad. He could play
the organ, could play the piana; my dad hid an ear for music.
And my mum could play the pipes. My father played the pipes,
and he played the fiddle. He played the spoons. Played the
organ. Played the piana. Played the dulcimer. Know what a
dulcimer is? He played the dulcimer. My mother played the
chanter, and pipes an a'. And a ma brithers wis a', they were
[TM] Where did they get the dulcimer in those
[JT] My dad used to eh, buy a dulcimer. He and
I got music. And that was the first thing, well it wisnae
the first thing that he played, it was the pipes he played.
But he, he liked a dulcimer, he played, he played the two
sticks, like two ???
[TM] Right now if we could
just start with a bit about yourself Robert. Where were you
born, brought up first of all.
[RL] Well I was born actually in the city of
Aberdeen. But eh, I've lived all my life on a farm, Greenpark,
New Aberdour, which is just sorta eight miles west of Fraserburgh.
And, em, we have a, eh, four hundred acre arable farm. Breeding
sheep, beef cattle, and eh, grow barley and oats, and em,
that's where I was born and brought up and lived my life.
[TM] When were you born?
[RL] Born 1969. So eh, the grey hairs are creeping
in at twenty-five! What do you think eh! Must be something
[TM] Working too hard. Em. You were saying earlier
about your family being fisher folk as well.
[RL] Yes, my surname, Lovie, my family originate
from Whitehills, up beside Banff on the Lovie side. My great-great
grandfather and his eldest son were drowned at sea just off
Whitehills, and em, after that my great grandfather moved
down to New Pitsligo and married a girl from New Pitsligo
and settled there and em, he had thirteen of a family of which
my grandfather was one. My grandfather's name was Hardie Lovie
and em, he moved to eh, New Aberdour and met a girl called
Gordon McQueen and em, her father, who was also called Gordon
McQueen was a song writer and a ballad writer. And em, I know
one or two of his works, one of the must popular ones is Ardlaw
Crew, which is actually written and is in the Gavin Greig
collection of folksongs o the North East. Which was about
a farm of Ardlaw, which is sort of half way between the farm
here at Greenpark and Fraserburgh, which is an area called
Ardlaw. So em, that was who my grandfather married, that was
my granny. So they had unusual names, Hardie Lovie and Gordon
McQueen. My granny always said it got them in quite bad situations
sometimes, but it was unusual names. She was called Gordon
because my great grandparents, McQueens, had six daughters,
and em, when my great grandmother became pregnant with my
eh, granny, she said this was going to be the last child that
she had, so there had been no boys and they wanted somebody
to be called after Gordon, the father. So my granny ended
up with the name Gordon. And after that they hid three boys!
[laughs] So, that's right! It was a bit unusual, but it's
a fair tale to tell really. So that was my grandparents' side.
My grandfather did a wee bit
o singin and as I said on the Lovie side, and my great-grandfather,
McQueen, Gordon McQueen did a lot o singing, song-writing.
And at my mother's side, my mother's maiden name's Smith.
And most of my mother's family is musical, play. They are
now abroad in Canada and America, but various aunts play the
accordion and the piano and did play in dance bands back in
the fifties and sixties around the North East.
[TM] So were they local to this area of Buchan?
[RL] They were all local. My mother comes from
Strichen. So that's my wee bit about my background.
[TM] And when did you first
get interested in songs? Did you hear them when you were small?
[RL] Yep. I remember, yes.
being a youngster and listening to a tape that my parents
had, which was a group called the Lomond Cornkisters, and
I remember listening to it when I was about five, six years
old and really, it was the only tape that I ever played and
asked for it all the time because of the cornkister songs,
and I remember being, I think it was about six, seven years
old, there was a big competition up in Turriff. Em, it was
actually run by Mark Ellington when he was sort of new to
his area. And he called it the Bothy Ballad King Competition.
And as I said, I was just about six, seven years old at the
time, and I remember these guys standing up on a big stage
at the Haughs o Turriff, singin these bothy ballads. And I
remember going home and taking the cassette of the Lomond
Cornkisters out and learning this song, called Jock McKay's
Wedding. And there wis anither song on it, Sleepytoon, a bothy
ballad Sleepytoon. And that wis my two favourite songs. So
I remember I learned them, and the following year I entered
a little competition up at New Deer and got first prize for
singing the two songs, Sleepytoon and Jock McKay's Wedding.
Jock McKay's Weddin was a funny sorta little ditty song, and
that's the cup that I won that you see over, that little cup
there. Em, and then I went back the following year and sung
Drumdelgie, and won again. When I was eight.
And the woman that presented
that cup was a woman called Myra Thow, who did a lot o entertainin
in the North East in her younger days. She was quite an elderly
woman, in fact she still comes back and fore here, her son
drives her out to see us. She lives in Aberdeen and she adjudicated
these competitions. And the second year I entered at the wee
competition at New Deer, there was a competition later on
that year at Rothienorman. And
she said that the BBC
was going to be there, and I was about nine, ten years old
at the time, and em, but she said, if you want to compete,
you're going to have compete against the men. So I did, and
there was about thirty entries on the first, on the Wednesday
and they whiled it down to the five who would compete on the
Saturday night. And I got into the final five and I think
I got fourth out of the five. Frank McNally, Tam Reid won
it. And em, Radio Aberdeen and Radio Scotland were there,
Arthur Argo was there and they were absolutely amazed that
this young guy, this little loon, em, fae New Aberdour which
has probably never been heard of! Em, singin these bothy ballads,
so Arthur and Robbie decided that they would do a wee feature
on one of their programmes and featured me singin at this
competition at Rothinorman. So that's really how the singing
And it just went on from there,
you know, going to the festivals and competitions and learning
up more songs, and meeting, you know, many people. But great
encouragement from both Myra Thow over the years and Arthur
before he died. Always great encouragement. And Arthur's parents
were always a great encouragement. And and then I got to know,
you know, going to the festivals, many other people like Hamish
Henderson, Margaret Bennett. And everybody was an encouragement
because I suppose when I went to the competitions, being a
little boy, being a little loon, there was no other youngsters
at the competitions. There are a few more now, and it's great
to see it. But when I started out at the competitions a few
years ago, there was no other youngsters and eh, I think that
was more intriguing about the thing to other people and I
think that was why they liked to encourage it, you know. So,
eh, that's how I got started in my singing.
[TM] So you continued competing until twenty-one
[RL] Yes, aye. I continued competing for a lot
of years. Went round all the festivals. The Keith festival
was always the, the great one in the North East here, which
was the Northeastern Regional Festival when it started and
going down to the Kirriemuir festival, the Auchtermuchty festival,
and various other festivals. Em, and taking the prizes home.
Beating some of these lads that had been competing for many
years. Em, which em, was eh, great fun. And meeting, I think
that was the great thing about the festivals. I don't go to
them so regularly now, but when we did go to the festivals,
my mother always went with me. And it was meeting and having
sessions with everybody, you know, that had interests like
I think some of the festivals,
dare I say it, have spoiled themselves in various ways. There's
too much drink in a lot of respects which spoils a lot of
evenings and things. And less funds in a lot o cases. Spoiled
wi the youngsters, comin just for the drink and comin just
to make a, a mess o the thing. To make a nuisance, you know,
and it's pulled away a lot o the fun for folk going. But I
think that was the special thing. And the thing that was always,
and always has been, nearest and dearest to my heart is all
the great folk we've met in the circuit in the Scottish traditional
music scene. So it's, it's been tremendous. I wouldn't have
given up, or give it up for anything
[TM] And how about the piano, when did you start
[RL] Well I, it was about eh, nine, ten. There
was piping lessons started up in New Pitsligo, so I'm speakin
aboot the pipes here before I speak aboot the piano. But em,
I did learn to play the pipes first and do play the pipes
occasionally. I play the pipes. I don't take them out a lot.
Occasionally I take them out at various times of the year.
If somebody locally is let down by a piper, they come and
call on me em, but eh, I play them when I go abroad to Canada
every year. Which is about ten thousand miles away, there's
nobody knows me, so if I make any mistakes wi ma pipes (laughs).
But em, I do play the pipes, I like playin ma pipes from time
to time, but then I started playing the piano and was taught
locally by a woman called Grace Taylor who put through a lot
o pupils. And I was never interested
in playing anything apart from the Scottish Music. She em,
I remember going, em I'd been there a few weeks, and she said
the kids were always so shy eh, at their music and she'd learnt
me, the very first tune I learnt on the piano was the Lovat
Scouts, which is better known as My Auld Wife. And em, she
says, I remember going over it with ye at the piano, and she
says, ye come back the following week after practising for
a week, and she says, yer foot was on the sustain pedal, she
says and ye were jist giving it laldie, she says. So there
was, em, there was no doubt about the type of music that eh,
was in my heart I suppose. So [I] learnt to play the piano
and I also play the penny whistle and em, one or two other
And em, going out round
the North East round various concerts, em, and eh gigs, I
met up with The Gairoch Blend which was a, well they'd been
a Scottish dance band, but they'd been formed for two or three
years eh when I met them for a start, and em, they had found
it difficult for anybody with a label, being such a new band,
tae tak on recording their band. So they went to one or two
local companies who weren't interested in recording them,
and em, so they decided they would start up their own label,
which is Donside label. And they were looking for folk to
record onto their label. And
they knew that I sang and did recitations and things, so eh,
they invited me to take part in and make a cassette, which
was back in '85, '84-'85. And eh, I went and made my first
cassette. And at that time, The Gairoch Blend was also looking
for a pianist. So, em, they roped me in may I say, to join
in the band, and em, just up till this past year I played
piano and did some singing with The Gairoch Blend, and we've
played all over the country.
[TM] And Canada.
[RL] And Canada, been to Canada, six times.
Over to British Columbia, to Vancouver and eh, Vancouver Island,
at Burns time every year. And the band was really asked out
originally to play for Scottish dances, but once they started
getting to know us they realised that I did singing, so they
would ask me to do some Burns songs. The following year we
went back, and then they knew I did a good bit into Burns,
so I was then asked to do a bit of speechifying about Burns,
so it ended up that The Gairoch Blend was doing the whole
evening! So it was really, it was really great fun. We got
onto CBC and television over there, being interviewed and
the latter two years that we've been we've also promoted the
Doric over there and we've done Grampian nights which has
been a wee bit away from, just a mixture in with the Burns
nights and proved very, very successful. And it's amazin to
sort of come out of the depths of the deepest darkest Buchan
that we're in here and go over to Vancouver and meet folk
from this area that emigrated out there thirty, forty, fifty
years ago, who've never lost their dialect, who've never lost
their tongue. Though it's become you know, a wee bit Americanised.
And know every word you are saying. Love every song that you
sing. And even, you know you take a humorous North East recitation
and do it over there, it goes down a bomb, like as well as
you were doing it in a village hall in New Pitsligo. You know,
they understand just as well. So it's been a, again, it's
been a great experience to go over and entertain the other
side of the world, and eh, you just need tae sing some of
these, like The Dying Ploughboy, which I did at a concert
last year eh, in Canada. And eh, ye see the tears comin rollin
down their faces. You know, they mebbe haven't heard it for
[TM] I suppose so.
[RL] So, eh, but they've got all the memories,
and I suppose it's seein folk like The Garioch Blend, the
boys from The Gairoch Blend going out and just, they would
take ye and sit down and have a drink with ye, and relate
the memories to ye about what it was like when they were there,
and how it's changed when they go back, and how it's great
to hear and see folk like The Garioch Blend going out to entertain
them, taking the time to,
because I suppose, we didn't
do it for the money, we only did it for the pleasure, because
it just covered its costs, because it was expensive to go
over, and fly over and, em, eh, though we always had good
accommodations and things, folk put us up. It was eh, it certainly
wasn't a money making event. So it was just great to go and
do it. And eh, again, a lot o people that come over from Vancouver
and Vancouver Island now come over and see us. You know, swapped
addresses and they come and see us and come round to Greenpark
and have a musical evening, with around the piano and you
[MB] Do you still sing Jock McKay's Weddin?
[RL] Haven't sung it for years Margaret. I don't
know even if I would remember the words! (Laughs).
[MB] The old folk soon say, oh I haven't sung
it for twenty years! (laughs).
[RL] I know, but
I still sing Sleepytoon
[MB] Uh huh. It's a good one.
[TM] Is that Sleepytoon in the Morning, or?
[RL] Sleepytoon in the Morning, mm hm. There
is the two Sleepytoons. And I remember it was put over the
radio when I was aboot eight, Robbie Shepherd recorded it
or Arthur Argo recorded it, and it was played on a BBC radio
Aberdeen programme. And the farmer from Sleepytoon used to
buy my father's cattle at the mart and eh, his name was Lyon,
Mr Lyon. And I remember he come up to me at the mart one day
just being a little boy. And he said, I heard you on the radio
singin aboot my farm. And it was quite funny to get a connection
of a song I was singin an my father sellin cattle to him at
the mart. You know, it's it's a great link with tradition.
[TM] Fancy having a go at that one? Sleepytoon.
[RL] Sure, I was thinkin
about The Dyin Ploughboy there as well. It's funny we're in
the village of New Aberdour here, and the parish of New Aberdour
and it was just about seven or eight years ago that I found
out that The Dying Ploughboy, well so it's said, a lot of
the local guys, old local men, say that the story actually
took place at a farm aboot two miles from here.
[TM] That's what we heard as well.
[RL] Yeah, where we dry oor grain. A farm called
Bonnyton Hill. Em, which is in fact, no you would see it from
the top of the road. And the farm worker who the song was
about was courting a girl, a maid from Bonnyton House and
he'd escorted her home this night, and another local fee'd
lad that was a bit jealous of the man going out with her.
[He] jumped out on him on the way home, gave him a scare and
he'd run all the way home and he'd had a chest complaint anyway
and he suffered a heart attack, a severe heart attack when
he arrived back at Bonnyton Hill and subsequently died after
that. So that's the story as it goes.
And it's funny the grain, the
drier, the old steading which is now a drier, grain drier,
the loft where he died, they say, was knocked out to make
this grain drier where we dry wir oats now. So it's funny
bein in there, you know, and you look up to the rafters and
think that song that you sing, you know, happened, or they
say happened up there. So eh, gives you one of these tingly
It's the same, for the past
six years I've worked for Grampian Country Food Group, Grampian
Chickens, and they own the farm buildings at Drumdelgie, again
which is another great bothy ballad. And I remember, I've
never been to Drumdelgie, although I'd passed it on the road
a lot of times, cause it's a big fairm toon, and all the sheds
there, the land was actually sold of about five or six years
ago to the Tillhill Forestry Group and the farm was kept,
the farm buildings was kept by the Grampian group and have
all been turned into chicken rearing sheds. And I've sung
the song for a lot of years and I had occasion one day of
having some visitors, some Chinese visitors who were customers
of Grampian chickens and I had to take them up to Drumdelgie
and had never been before, and I thought to myself, how peculiar
can you get, taking Chinese visitors up to Drumdelgie to see
round these chicken rearing sheds. And I put them away wi
the farm manager to have a look round, and I just stood there
and looked round the farm at Drumdelgie, and again you could
sense the hard work, you know, that had gone on, the toil
the sweat, you know, around aboot the farm. Again, there was
just something that you could feel at Drumdelgie. So that's,
em, it's funny, Mr Birnie again, back to the minister again
we were speaking about earlier, he did a talk at the Buchan
Heritage last year - did you hear it?
[TM] Yes. That's where I met your mum.
[RL] Oh was it? Uh huh. And he got all this
information from me. He come over a couple of nights and em,
because I worked for Grampian chickens at the time, which
owned the buildings, and I put him in touch with several people
to get his information for his evening.
[MB] When you think of it, my mind flashed back
to the idea of missing out the songs cause they are a waste
of time, they are the only thing that really carry on the
[RL] Exactly ??? if you don't know the song.
[MB] Not only that, you just can't feel what
it was like to be alive then.
[RL] That's right.
[MB] The songs the only thing that connects
with the present.
[RL] That's right, that's why I can't understand
that guy ?? You know.
[MB] He's got. I suppose he thinks that it's
alright putting them in a book but you know singing them is
[RL] I remember standing there that day at Drumdelgie,
I must have been back since, but it was the first time that
I'd actually stood on the farm, and I went over the words
in my head. And I felt it, ye really felt that the whole thing.
'A maist unceevil crew.'
The gloaming winds are sighing
Aroon my lonely stable laft,
Aneath the sky lights dusky reid,
The sunbeams wander roon my bed.
The doctor left me in guid cheer,
But something tells me death is near,
My time on earth has nae been lang,
My time has come and I must gang.
Ach me, tis but a week the morn,
Since I was weel and hairstin corn,
As fu o health and strength and fun,
As ony man among the throng.
But something in ma breist gaed wrang,
A vessel burst and blood it sprang,
And as the sun sets in the skies,
They lay me doon nae mair tae rise.
Fareweel ma freens, ma comrades dear,
My voice ye shall nae langer hear,
Fare weel tae yonder settin sun,
My time has come, and I must gang.
Fareweel ma horse, my bonny pair,
Wi you I'll yoke and lowse nae mair,
Fareweel ma ploo, wi you this hand,
Will turn ower nae mair fresh land.
But I've served ma maister weel and true,
My weel deen work he'll never rue,
And yet [End of Side B.]
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