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Jack Beck

Biography

JACK BECK - Biography (Courtesy of the Artist’s site, 2007)

Jack was born in Dunfermline in Fife and lived there until 1998 when he moved to the St Andrews area (still in Fife!). He has lived in the United States since 2004. He became interested in Scots ballads and songs at the beginning of the folk-song revival of the 1960s, and was one of the founders of the local folk-club (The Dunfermline Howff) in 1961.

From 1964 till 1967 he partnered the well-known singer Barbara Dickson and throughout the 1960s he was part of the circle which included Archie Fisher, John Watt, Rab Noakes, Jimmy Hutchison, The MacCalmans, The Corries, The Incredible String Band etc.

In 1976 he co-founded the acclaimed folk-band ‘Heritage’, which went on to make a number of recordings, broadcast on radio and TV, played most of the Scottish festivals and clubs and toured Europe frequently.

In 1989 he visited the US for the first time, and has returned regularly most years since then, performing in Maine and E Tennessee, where he has lectured on the Appalachian Studies program of ETSU and at the Swannanoa Gathering in N. Carolina. Around the same time he began broadcasting a live interview programme, monthly, on Heartland fm in Pitlochry, which was recorded and then re-broadcast by WETS fm from the campus of ETSU in Johnson City.

During the 1990s he performed more frequently as a solo singer or in tandem with his ‘Heritage’ colleague George Haig. He also revived a long-standing partnership with the singer/songwriter John Watt and more recently with ace guitarist Sandy Stanage - they perform regularly as a duo at clubs and festivals.

His most recent venture is a presentation/workshop/concert called ‘A Stranger in this Country’ involving Sara Grey, Anne Neilson and Jack, which examines Scots and American versions of the same songs and ballads. This has been performed both in Scotland (Celtic Connections Festival) and, in the US, from S. Carolina to New York (and all points between).

In 1990 Jack was made an honorary life member of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland and since 1999 he has been external examiner in Scots Song for the Degree programme in Scots Music Performance at the prestigious RSAMD in Glasgow.

Jack’s ‘day job’ till 2001 was head of department in a community college in Dunfermline. Since then he has been an education and training consultant.

They say:

'His delivery of the classic Scottish ballads is outstanding' - Ian Green
(Greentrax Records)

'I can certainly vouch for the quality of his presentations - very definitely
worth hearing' - Sandy Ives (Dept of Folklore - University of Maine)

'A fine singer, with a uniquely compelling quality of delivery' - Hamish
Henderson (School of Scottish Studies)

'The song is the thing with Jack - - - -one of the last of the singers that
form the bridge between the old rural tradition and the urban revival' -
Archie Fisher (singer and broadcaster)



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