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Alastair McDonald


Biography (Courtesy of the Artist�s site, 2005).

Alastair McDonald

Alastair McDonald is firmly established as Scotland's leading musical minstrel. In addition to Television, Radio & stage appearances world wide, he is a prolific recording artiste & can be heard on a variety of labels, most notably CORBAN RECORDINGS, situated in his native Scotland. Alastair`s programme is selected from a vast repertoire of traditional, contemporary & original material. Born in Glasgow in 1941, Alastair emigrated to Australia with his family at the age of eight & growing up there, during a period in the outback, developed an interest in "home made" entertainment. Four years later he returned to Scotland just in time to be excited by the emerging pop scene & in particular, skiffle" music, a fusion of American folk song with overlaid jazz influences, spearheaded by Lonnie Donegan. With a variety of local groups, he played in hospitals, old folks` homes, Churches, ceilidhs & even back court concerts for political campaigns & for many of his young years was a leading banjo player in the jazz scene of the period (winner of the award for best banjo player Elgin Jazz Festival 1962). As the years passed, Alastair`s musical horizons extended & in 1973 he was invited to co-host a new TV show of Scottish music entitled "Songs of Scotland" in the company of baritone Peter Morrison, with whom he has maintained a working relationship to this day. After only a few screenings, the viewing public responded so positively that the series continued year upon year, taking Alastair`s music into variety shows, pantomimes & plays throughout Scotland - and the world. Alastair`s commitment has always been to entertain, but he has fought to do so on terms he believes to be valuable. "Give them what they want..." is a maxim that he finds quite unacceptable. He strives instead to offer that which he considers to be wholesome, helpful, uplifting, cautionary, loving & entertaining - "Filling time for an audience & not just passing it!", he says.


Alastair McDonald has been a performer on a full time basis since 1970 & has built up a successful career not only in his native Scotland, but on numerous occasions has been invited to take his own style of musical entertainment to locations as diverse as America, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Israel, Thailand, East Africa & the Arab Emirates. Never one to be easily tied down to pigeon-hole categories, he is probably best known as "...the folk singing jazz banjo-player from Scotland..." except for those areas in which he's known as "...the Scottish jazz banjo-playing folk singer..." ! Alastair`s radio & TV credits are too numerous to list here, likewise his record & tape releases, but even without these, the fact that he was invited twice within the space of three years to front a coast to coast touring show across Canada & the United States (every state except Hawaii & Alaska!) must surely speak for itself. His concert programme can vary from a Scottish historical ballad to a humorous music hall ditty - from a Gaelic lament to a hand clapping American Negro Gospel song - not mere versatility for its own sake, but rather a genuine desire to share some of the very best at an entertaining & contextual level. You will find Alastair McDonald equally at home in a jazz club, folk club, variety show, theatre, concert hall or Church - not because he tailors his performance to the venue of the moment, but rather, as a confessing Christian, believes that a solid, entertaining, wholesome, uncompromising, thought provoking repertoire should know no bounds or require an apology wherever it may be performed.


In his book, "One Singer - One Song", writer, singer & storyteller Ewan McVicar describes Alastair McDonald as having "...sung with the Scottish Radio Orchestra, played banjo in countless jazz bands, accompanied traditional Gaelic singers & performed as pantomime dame...". Ewan goes on to muse that perhaps it`s that very versatility that brings him under fire from self appointed purists that seem to have difficulty doing one thing well. Interesting thought, Ewan! Having enjoyed over the years the company & respect of established figures like Josh McRae, Dominic Behan, Morris Blythman, Matt McGinn, Billy Connelly, Hamish Imlach, The Stewarts of Blair et (practically) al, Alastair continues to perform mainly in Scotland, although through the `90s he made frequent appearances at jazz festivals in Denmark where his banjo & vocals have been received enthusiastically by Danes blissfully undiverted by dancing centipedes or Glencoe massacres (!) - speaking of which, it seems Alastair has the rare ability of lifting a song directly from the written page & into the hearts & minds of the listening public, as the repertoires of more than a few of his fellow performers will reveal. Festival appearances in the past have included Orkney, Aberfeldy, Glenfarg, Auchtermuchty, Newtonmore, Girvan, Edinburgh (Fringe and Jazz!) & Irvine's Marymass Festival. Also two tours of Canada & the United States as well as brief forays in the directions of Caernarfon, Wurtsburg, Nairobi & Bangkok! If you would like to consider Alastair for an appearance at your festival or concert, he can be contacted through Corban Records.

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