An Interview with Norman Maclean

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When it comes to Skiffle, Norman Maclean is the man, & he’s just about to bring his band to the Fringe…


Hello Norman, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Norman: Well now – I married the loveliest girl in the world 35 years ago and she gave me 2 lovely sons, though I did have a small input. We now live in Haddington, about 20 miles from Edinburgh. But I was born in a funny place called Australia (Sydney) about 100 years ago – my father had been sent there by the British government for some reason!

When did you first develop a love of music?
Norman: I came to the UK in 1960 and have always liked skiffle.

What instruments do you play?
Norman: I’m really a drummer but as you can’t really play drums on yer own, I took up guitar and now play it badly and sing badly. I formed the Soft Shoe Skiffle Band in 2000, and we’ve done the Fringe and other gigs since. There is Captain banjo – who plays that and mandolin v well and has been with me for over 10 years, and also a big double bass player (well he’s actually quite small but the bass is huge) and he’s been with me for over 12 years and also an elec guitarist, and a washboard player. I’ve wanted to do a Fringe show on my own for years as I play in a lot of care homes and day centres myself.

What does Norman Maclean like to do when he’s not making music?
Norman: When not playing music – I love skiing, windsurfing and fishing (trout and salmon). In fact I started and ran a ski shop in Edinburgh for about 25 years, and we had a windsurfing school at Cramond on the Forth for a few years – it really made no money but was very good fun.

You have been an integral member of the Soft Shoe Skiffle Band for for nearly 20 years – & youre playing at the Fringe this year. What songs have you got for us?
Norman: Some popular folk and pop from the 50’s to the 80’s songs are ‘My old Man’s a Dustman, Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight, Nobody’s Child, It Doesn’t Matter Any More (a great Buddy Holly song), Michael Row the Boat’ and many more.

What does the rest of 2018 have in store for Norman Maclean?
Norman: Since I’ve more or less stopped real work – business seminars on several subjects – the rest of 2018 will be taken up with some band gigs, and also I’m writing a book (more later); and much the most important thing is our Labrador got cancer a few years ago and we had to put him to sleep, and our sons gave us a new one last Christmas, and it is a real commitment. A lovely puppy needs a lot of training and attention, and he is only 8 months old, but we all love him to bits. I might train him up to take him into nursing homes and care centres, as a dog is great to show.


Soft Shoe Skiffle Band

Edinburgh Academy,
Henderson Row

Thurs 16th & Fri 17th August (19.00)

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