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johnross Ewan MacColl - any first-hand anecdotes? (239* d) RE: Ewan MacColl - any first-hand anecdotes? 11 Oct 07

I organized and produced concerts for Peggy and Ewan in Seattle several times over about the last ten years before he died. They also did a master class in ballads for us (and before you ask, yes, there's a tape of that session here someplace). They were always a joy to work with; fully professional, they knew exactly what they wanted and needed, but they weren't pushy or prima donnas.

Once, when I was in London, I went to the Singers' Club at the Bull and Mouth to see and hear them. I happened to arrive before the upstairs room was unlocked, and waited on the stairs with a handful of other people. One of them was a Folk Bore, who observed my obvious American accent, and decided to tell me all about his wonderful record collection of American Folk Music. I was trapped in the stairway, so I had to stand there and listen politely as he went on and on. After about ten minutes of this, Ewan and Peggy arrived with the key. Ewan greeted me warmly and Peggy gave me a big hug, and one of them said, "Why didn't you tell us you were in town?" As this is happening, I could see that the Folk Bore was shrinking back, with a look on his face that said, "Oops. I should know who this is, shouldn't I?" It was a great moment.

During the interval that evening, I mentioned to Ewan that I had found an old Wheatstone concertina at a bargain price in a street market that day, but I didn't have the cash to buy it, so the seller had put it aside for me. But I was leaving before I could get the chance to go to the bank and arrange to buy it. Ewan said, "that's too good a deal to miss. Give us the name of the shop and we'll get it for you. You can send us the money." Which they did, and took it to Harry Crabbe to repair. Of course, I sent them the money immediately after I heard from them. On their next U.S. tour, which ended here in Seattle, Peggy brought my concertina instead of her own, and played it at all their concerts. On the final night of the tour, she left it with me.

So, yes, I would agree that he (and Peggy as well) was generally gracious and approachable. But I never got into either a political or artistic confrontation with him, so I don't know how that might have gone.

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