Coming from a musical family, (his father and grandfather, both fine baritones and brass-band leaders),Billy was singing natural harmonies aged 7, with his elder brothers, performing mostly negro-spiritual and early skiffle material, influenced greatly by Lonnie Donegan, Woody Guthrie etc. His father and two aunts were born in Lithonia, in the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, and their parents brought them back home to Dalbeattie, S. W. Scotland in 1922. In the second half of the 80s, he was lead singer with Scots folk group 'Blackeyed Biddy', playing many venues, concerts and festivals, the length and breadth of Scotland, N. England and Lorient. He performed at the 'Lockerbie disaster fund-raising concert' in 1989 with a troupe of 120 artistes who flew over from the states. Although he leans towards the traditional side of music, he is not averse to singing Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, June Tabor and Christie Moore songs. His range of material nowadays is more 'world music' rather than getting tied down with nationalistic jingoism.
He has a vast repertoire of material, ranging from Scots, Irish, English and U. S. with some humorous Scots poetry thrown in Guitar and bouzouki are his main instruments, although singing is his forte. He is at the moment trying to master the hammer dulcimer, which has been lying dormant for 25 years In the past few years he's started writing his own material, such as 'The West of Donegal', 'It Doesn't Have To Be This Way', (Transition Donegal Anthem), 'I May Be A Blow-in', 'Boot cuts & Denims' and 'Lateral Thinkin'Blues', with a few more in the boiling pot. He says "I've heard some of the plebeian hogwash that is being bantered about on T.V. and radio and thought "I can do better than that"!! He has been involved with the traditional music scene since 1966, as chairman of two folk-clubs, M.C. and accompanist. "Audience participation, and chorus singing is all very important, as I think an evening's entertainment should be about 'US', and not THEM and 'ME' , which possibly helped him win the 2009 Ballyshannon busking competition. He is one of the few performers, some say 'entertainers', who do this for a living, not just as a week-end sideline, to bring in some extra money. It is his only occupation and takes it very seriously. If you like chorus singing with old songs and new, listening in a convivial atmosphere, and prefer nights like we used to have, then yes, give him a hearing. You could do worse. Every drink increases your risk of singing.
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