Mac Arts puts guru Mackinnon in the spotlight

The life and work of legendary Borders music guru Duncan Mackinnon is being brought to life through an oral history project being run by the Galashiels venue which bears his name.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 2:46 pm
Fay Fife, front woman of the legendary Rezillos, hands over the prize to Amy Anthoney, watched by Mac Arts director David Little.

Mac Arts, which is run by the Duncan Mackinnon Music and Arts Trust, is highlighting Mackinnon’s career, which saw him attract the biggest names to the region, such as The Hollies, The Who, The Pretty Things, The Kinks, Long John Baldry (Rod Stewart), The Yardbirds (Jeff Beck), Robert Plant’s Band of Joy (before he joined Led Zeppelin), Manfred Mann and The Alex Harvey Band.

One of the people who told his story was Bob Fish of Johnny and the Roccos, who started out playing for Mackinnon in the Hawick band, the Diamonds.

He said: “Duncan Mackinnon was without doubt one of the most influential characters of the post war music scene in the UK … not only as an aficionado of the different genres, but as a promoter, talent scout and agent, but also as a pioneer in marketing his wares, he was a one-off.”

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Amy Athoney with her winning artwork.

Part of the project was a competition challenge for students at Heriot-Watt University to explore the cultural history of the Borders through the lens of the 1950s and 60s pop music promoted by Border Dances.

Student Amy Anthoney was awarded the student prize of £250 by Mac Arts manager Chris Wemyss.

Amy said: “The project has inspired my work in so many ways. It was great to gain a deeper insight into the music scene in the 50s and 60s, and I have combined some elements with my own contemporary style in a fun, and light-hearted way.”

Chris added: “Amy produced a fantastic body of work, including clothing designs, posters and album sleeve designs, all influenced by artists of the day and quotes from Duncan himself.

"The oral history project gave the students a lot of background material and has also given us an insight in to the life of Duncan.”

If any reader who has memorabilia, such as tickets, posters, photographs, press clippings or anything to do with Duncan Mackinnon or Border Dances, Mac Arts would be interested to photograph or borrow these items to enhance the content of the planned September exhibition … email project manager Maggie Marr at [email protected]