When Alan Lomax
set out to collect field recordings for his lauded World Library of Folk and Primitive Music
collection, he had expected rural Scotland to be a mere footnote to the formidable material he recorded with Ewan MacColl
, but his guide, the esteemed poet, songwriter, and folklorist Hamish Henderson
, showed the ethnomusicologist a culture that was so rich with song that it would take years to chronicle even half of it. The Edinburgh People's Festival began in 1947 as a showcase for the Scottish working-class movement. Funded in part by the Theatre Workshop, the People's Festival Ceilidh celebrated the "Scottish folk song as it should be sung" (unaccompanied), and provided Lomax
, who captured the festival in 1951, with some of the country's most authentic oral snapshots. The recordings are clear, dry, and as rustic as one could imagine, with humorous and informative introductions from Henderson
himself. The thick booklet is packed with more information than one could possibly absorb in a single sitting, with stories, anecdotes, and lyrics to each and every song.