Saltire Festival 2022

The Power of Protest (Songs)
An Evening with Jim McLean and Alastair McDonald

Friday 19 August
7pm - 9pm

Followed by Refreshments 

An evening looking at the history and story of Protest Songs, from 1960's to present day. With performance by Alastair McDonald.

This event will take place at The Saltire Society Headquarters 

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Jim Mclean

I was born on the 21st April and share the same birthday as the Queen, the only thing we have in common. I grew up in Paisley, in a household filled with music, both parents were good singers and Robert Tannahill and Robert Burns were given laldy along with Sinatra and Hutch, my mother!s favourite singer. 

My father was a minor poet and send regular pieces to the "wee” Paisley Express during the war, all signed "Gnr R D McLean”. 

His politics were very radical, almost communist, so politics and song were my daily nourishment. 

I was an apprentice Radio and TV engineer in 1957 during the Suez fiasco when Britain, France and Israel conspired to promote a phoney war with Nasser, President of Egypt. 

I refused to comply with this nefarious scheme and registered as a Conscious Objector when called to perform my National Service and earned a six-month jail term in Glasgow’s Barlinnie jail. 

This gave me an appreciation of "freedom” and when my apprenticeship was over I took busking and travelling the world, playing the bagpipes or working where possible.....I had my 21st birthday in a Bavarian Youth Hostel, 1959. I spent Christmas 1961 as a deck boy on a Swedish merchant ship. 

October 1962 saw me in London, in the Troubadour folk club where I met my future wife Alison who had just graduated from Ealing College as a photographer. 

I had been writing political, anti-Polaris and Scottish Republican songs since a visit to a Glasgow club during my back and forth visits from Europe and collaborated with Morris Blythman and Hamish Henderson for a collection of songs released as an LP Ding, Dong, Dollar. 

I moved home in 1964 and worked as a TV engineer in Glasgow and Alison also left London, and then to Glasgow before we both moved to London in 1966 and got married. 

I was still writing and got a recording break when Major Minor, via producer Tommy Scott asked to make an LP called Scottish Republican Songs, sung by Nigel Denver. 

After that I wrote, produced, arranged many LPs for Nigel, Alastair McDonald, Fraser Bruce, Bitter Withy, the Scotia, The Troubadour.....too many to list here. 

With my photographer wife, Aliso, we formed our own record label, NEVIS Records, in 1971 and continued writing and producing…still writing. 

Alastair McDonald

Alastair was born 28 October 1941 and excels in banjo and guitar, playing folk and jazz. He has also written songs himself, Culloden's Harvest, The Village Green at Gretna, and reworked traditional songs (The Bell Rock Light, Mingulay Boat Song for example).

He has toured the United States (every state except Hawaii and Alaska), Canada, Israel, Denmark, and Thailand. He has recorded many of my songs including The Massacre of Glencoe, Shores of Sutherland, The Barras and many more.