Some of you will recall the name – and you might enjoy some of the clips on this website video
This evening, BBC4 are presenting a 30 minute programme about him, presented by Jools Holland. The stories of the influence of Leadbelly on his performing are very interesting and the musical clips are typical of the rather ‘jolly’ approach that British folkies of the late 1950s had to American ‘roots’ stuff. There is one ensemble clip which clearly includes Davy Graham and Martin Carthy and maybe (?) Shirley Collins
There is one odd point in the Radio Times blurb about the programme where it says that McEwen is “widely credited with introducing blues music to Britain”.
Is he? Widely? By 1959 he was only 17 years old (apologies he was 27 – please see Comments) and following on from the initiatives of Chris Barber, Ken Colyer, George Melly, Alexis and Cyril (etc). Blues singers Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters and others had already toured Britain by then and my real point is that since he was clearly a very remarkable man (check his plant paintings), I don’t understand why people need to make up stories that just ain’t true. Even if he did introduce the blues to Britain (which I doubt) he is certainly not “widely credited” with doing so …
Nonetheless he is a really fascinating guy and I suspect it will be a programme worth catching – as is this website video.