From Doc Watson to lifetime folk award, Dougie MacLean sings on

Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:59am EST
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By Jeremy Gaunt

LONDON (Reuters) - In the 1970s, before he could make a living playing music, Scottish folk singer Dougie MacLean found himself with a temporary job driving an American family around Europe in a mini-bus.

It was a serendipitous moment for a performer who is poised to receive a lifetime achievement accolade at the BBC Folk Awards: The family was that of Doc and Merle Watson, two of America's most celebrated bluegrass, country and gospel singers.

MacLean did not know who they were at first but ended up "blown away" by them, jamming with them in the evenings and listening to them belting out gospel on German autobahns.

Speaking to Reuters from his home in Butterstone, Perthshire, MacLean says he took some joy from listening to father and son Doc and Merle playing together, something he now does from time to time with his own son.

"It was magical," he said.

MacLean's own folk borders on the traditional with a lot of poetic Scottish nostalgia woven in, such as the haunting "Ready for the Storm".

His song "The Gael" was adapted to be the theme of the film "Last of the Mohicans" while "Caledonia" - perhaps his most celebrated work - is essentially a love song to his homeland, one that is said to bring the odd tear to Scottish listeners.

Plans are for the BBC awards to close on Wednesday with a "Caledonia" sung by all the awardees.   Continued...

Musician Dougie MacLean is seen performing in this undated photograph in provided by Butterstone Studios and received in London on January 28, 2013. REUTERS/ Studios/Handout