Friday, November 30, 2007

My Friend Alex

I would like to introduce you to my friend, Alex. Or Alec as he likes to be called. His full name is Alexander William MacLeod Beaton. Alex was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His father was from the Isle of Skye and his mother was from Ireland. In the 1960's he was a member of a British group called the Cumberland Three. He immigrated to the US in 1965 and settled in the LA area. He served in the US Army entertaining the troops. In the 70's he started performing country music, writing many of the songs he sang. In the 80's he decided to go back to his roots, Scottish music. Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina hosted one of the largest Scottish Highland Games east of the Mississippi. Alex decided to set up shop outside the gates with his guitar, a few tapes, and his irrepressible personality, singing songs from his homeland. The following year he was invited inside the gates and thus began entertainment at Highland Games in the US. He began to be invited to perform at other Games and over the years has become the most popular entertainer at Highland Games throughout the US and Canada.

In 2003, Mr. Snowbird and I attended the games at Grandfather Mountain. Our friend, Vard, had told us that his favorite Scottish entertainer was Alex Beaton. When we found that he was performing at Grandfather, we caught one of his performances at the games. We really enjoyed him and decided to attend his "Alex Beaton and Friends" concert on Saturday night. Earlier in the week I had said that I would love to tour Scotland sometime. That night we were so impressed by Alex's humor and his knowledge of Scottish history each time he introduced a song. He also plugged his Scotland Tours. We grabbed a brochure and sent in our downpayment that very night for the 2004 tour. When we got home from the Games several days later, there was a message on our answering machine from Alex himself saying that we on the list for 2004. Thus began a very loonngg 13 month wait.

A week or so before we were to go to Scotland, we went to the games in Detroit where Alex was entertaining and introduced ourselves. We also bought a bunch of his CD's and got them all signed. (Did you know that CD's play better when they are signed by the artist?) We joined Alex again at O'Hare Airport in Chicago where we all met to begin our amazing 12 day tour.
Thus began an wonderful friendship. At the Ft. Lauderdale Florida Games that following January, I helped out in his booth selling his CD's. Then in the summer of 2006, he called us and asked us to man his booth at the Ohio Games. This was just a few weeks before we joined him for our second tour of Scotland. Believe it or not, we had an even better time the second time around.

Since that time, we have met up with him at the Ft. Lauderdale Games, The Kentucky Scottish Weekend and Stone Mountain Games each year manning his booth from time to time.

A few weeks ago, he emailed us and asked that we send him 20 to 30 of our favorite pictures from our Scotland tours as he was redoing his website and wanted to use some of our pictures. Wow! So I waded through what must be a couple of thousand pictures and narrowed them down to 45 and sent them off to him. He called me tonight from Savannah where he was performing at a Robert Burns Dinner and said that the site was supposed to be up and would I check it out. I did and it wasn't. So after a couple of more phone calls, it was up and running and I am so thrilled to have our pictures on his website. If you ever want to take a tour of Scotland, you just have to go with Alex. You will never find a better tour anywhere. And if you want to check out his new website, go here now.