The following text tells about my doings up till 2010. Since then I've mostly done more of the same.
Born in Inverness in 1941. Moved to Dingwall in 1947, Glasgow in 1955. In 1957 became a banker in Glasgow, in 1961a boy bank manager in Uganda, Kenya and then Aden. Escaped banking in 1966 to become guitar teacher in Colorado and Boston, USA. Returned to Scotland in 1968, worked 1971 –1995 in various areas of social work, including psychiatry .Retired from this employment in March 1995, developed as self-employed author, storyteller, songwriter etc.
Ewan has since 1989 run various community arts projects, with Scottish Arts Council backing. Songmaker In Schools involved making new Scots songs out of old ones. From 1994 to 1997 Ewan worked in an artistic partnership called Mungo 200 with Ghanaian artist Amu Logotse to create and organise exhibitions and education and community performance events linking Scotland and Africa. This work continues through The Bird Exchange, a project initiated and run by Ewan, which has for the last 12 years combined artistic exchanges and practical assistance between children in Scotland and Uganda. In October / November 2007 a visual arts exhibition was assembled for Edinburgh, then went to the CHOGM meeting in Uganda. A community recording studio for ex street kids to record their own songs about their lives was set up in Kampala through a new project, The Music Exchange, and at present a new phase of Global Citizenship exchange work between schools in Uganda and Scotland is being developed under the title Bridge Builders.
In 1998 Ewan acquired an MSc [with distinction] degree at the School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh University, for the study of Scottish playground songs. He is now probably the foremost authority in Scotland on children's song and rhyme. His latest book, A B C My Grannie Caught A Flea, Scots children’s songs and rhymes’, contains over 900 lyrics and rhymes.
He has written, lectured and broadcast on a range of topics.
From 1998 to 2000 Ewan was Writer in Residence to schools in Craigmillar, Edinburgh, with Scottish Arts Council co-funding.
From 2000 to 2005 Ewan undertook a number of projects linking the Russian city of Perm with Scotland, including inaugurating a Festival of Scottish Culture, a collaborative tour of Scotland by a quartet of opera singers, and various joint writing projects. He is currently working with the AHRC Network, based at Glasgow University, on the project ‘Translating Russia & Central / East European cultures’, his particular input being on aspects of storytelling in different cultures.
Ewan is also currently developing the project ‘Collier Tracks’, an investigation into and celebration of the songs and lives of Scots coalminers and their families, with a particular focus on Scots miners in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
In 1995 Ewan was by happenstance formally reconstituted as a traditional Scottish storyteller, and in this persona has performed in Scottish castles and museums, about 200 schools, folk festivals and other venues, including storytelling and other festivals in Prince Edward Island, Milton Keynes, Holland, New Hampshire, Russia, Sweden and numerous Scottish festivals.
He has run a storytelling festival
and two storytelling clubs in Glasgow, and is Vicechair of the
Scottish Storytelling Forum. In June 2006 he set up two Scottish
Storytelling Internet Radio Stations.
He has run numerous school projects that combine traditional story elements and creative writing.
Ewan in June 2010 started his own publishing business as GALLUS PUBLISHING, and has written and published four books:
Lang Legged Beasties, Scottish Children’s Stories, Songs and Rhymes about animals.
Cod Liver Oil & The Orange Juice, Reminiscences Of A Fat Folk Singer, Hamish Imlach’s rumbustious autobiography of 1992 reissued, co-written by Ewan McVicar.
One Black Isle Night, stories from the 1001 Arabian Nights are retold as tales from and of Ross-shire 200 years ago.
The Eskimo Republic, Scots political song in action 1951-1999.
Ewan’s previously published
books include :
Doh Ray Me When Ah Wiz Wee, an anthology and discussion of Scottish children's songs and rhymes for the last 200 years, including many previously unpublished rude ones, was published by Birlinn in October 2007, and sold very well.
One Singer One Song, Old and New Stories and Songs of Glasgow Folk, published by Glasgow District Libraries, a 'Glasgow best-seller' in 1990.
Streets Schemes and Stages, co-written with Mary McCabe, an account of community arts supported by Strathclyde Region's Social Work Department for 1990, published by Strathclyde Regional Council in 1991.
Cod Liver Oil and The Orange Juice, Reminiscences of a Fat Folk Singer, co-written with singer Hamish Imlach, the latter's autobiographical reminiscences, published by Mainstream, another 'Glasgow best-seller' in 1992.
The Bonny Ship The Diamond, a teaching pack with book and cassette about Scotland's whalers, published by Jordanhill Publishing in about 1995.
Traditional Scottish Songs and Music, co-written with Kathleen Campbell, published in 2001 by Leckie and Leckie.
Ewan in 2009 completed The Eskimo Republic, a book about Scottish Political Song, 1951-1999. This book got funding support from the Scottish Arts Council in 2008.
In 2009/10 Ewan has worked to create, co-create
and source web material for Learning & Teaching Scotland, for the
Curriculum For Excellence, on The Caledonians, The Scots in
Canada, and most notably a major new resource on Scotland’s
Songs. In early 2010 he worked with Stuart McHardy to create
and develop the approach of the new SCOTSFEST
project, and is currently creating additional on-line Scots Song
Other published material includes:
poetry and prose and articles in various publications, including three years of New Writing Scotland, Edinburgh Review, The Scotsman, Cencrastus and various anthologies;
Theatre writing :
Comin To The Well, community play for Motherwell Festival 1995;
The Magic Fiddle, storytelling with groups of children, for Mayfest 1995;
Which Way Does The Niger Flow, a professional touring show 1992;
a show in Nuremberg for Glasgow Nuremberg Twinning ceremony 1985;
various other shows in Scotland and Perm, Russia; etc, etc.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe reviewer for The Scotsman, 1996 and 1997.
SONGWRITING AND RECORDING
In 1960 Ewan wrote a song Talking Army Blues which entered the Hit Parade. He in 1959 co-started with Drew Moyes the first Scottish folk club, in Glasgow. Since then he has performed solo and with various unknown groups with names like Bawheid McBear and Robbery With Violins in venues ranging from peace rallies in George Square to a winter tour of Finland, plus stage, street, hall, pub, festival, and you-name-it. He plays various instruments and noise-makers from African thumb piano to American autoharp, Philippino mouthbow and beyond. He has written some forty songs which have been commercially recorded, some twenty of them for the Singing Kettle children's show.
He has acted as producer for two albums of new songs of Fife issued by the New Makars Trust, of which he is a trustee. From 2000 to 2005 he edited, for the USA Alan Lomax Foundation and Rounder Records, three albums drawn from 1950s archive recordings - of Scottish traditional singers Davie Stewart and Jimmie MacBeath, of the famous 1951 Edinbuigh People's Festival Ceilidh, and of children's songs and rhymes - and he worked on three more, giving transcripts and notes for 1951 recordings of John Strachan, and of Jimmie and Davie .
In 2006 he edited, for the School of Scottish Studies and Greentrax Records, an album of childrens's songs and rhymes drawn from the School's archives, Chokit on a Tattie.
Ewan runs his own small recording label, Gallus, which has issued many short run CDs and cassettes of story, song and poetry.