Harp graphic


Dance Bands




Folk Groups




Back to:

Who's Who


Traditional Music

Traditional Music >> Performers >> Scottish Folk Groups >> The Livingstones

The Livingstones

The Livingstones hailed from the Hamilton/Blantyre area and were all university graduates (three having gone to Strathclyde, one to Glasgow uni). The "anchor man" was Frank McKay, while his brother Ken McKay was the most versatile musician with several instruments in his battery. David McCabe, " one of the most glorious singing voices in folk music", played chanter and was an expert in Burns, and John Dempsey.

In 1965 the group was playing on the folk boat which sailed between Glasgow and Rothesay, and The Corries wrote "Their sensitive arrangements class them as talented musicians". They toured throughout Britain during 1965-68, appeared on television in France, and supported Tom Paxton on tour. In 1968 they recorded a live album from Hamilton Town Hall (see below).

Frank McKay became a history teacher, and ran his school's folk club during the 1960s. There was a much later report of him selling calculators in Paris. Ken McKay married and settled in Dundee. There he played gigs with banjo player John McGuire, and then joined long-established local group The Taysiders. I heard from John Dempsey's daughter that he died of cancer in 1999: "He is deeply missed but never forgotten."




The Livingstones In Concert (Waverley SZLP 2105, 1968)

Side One: Ye Jacobites By Name; The Buroo Song; The Wild Rover; Wha'll Be King But Charlie; The First Time (MacColl); The Yellow Haired Laddie
Side Two: Bonnie Dundee; High Dunn; My Johnny Is a Shoemaker; Tramps and Hawkers; San Miguel (Bowers); The Irish Rover

All songs traditional except where indicated

Frank McKay (vocals), David McCabe (vocals, chanter), John Dempsey (vocals), Ken McKay (guitars, banjo, whistle, mandolin, dulcimer, balalaika)

SNP Folk

SNP Folk (Scotia SCO248,, c.1968)
with Albanachs, Newcomers, Lallans

Side One: Scotland Free (Sheila Douglas); Because and the Reason (Barrie)
Side Two: Parcel of Rogues (Burns)

I Presume

The Livingstones I Presume (Waverley SZLP 2113, 1969)

Side One: Suzanne (Cohen); Johnny Cope; Far Too Far (John Dempsey); Rough Justice (John Dempsey); Travelling Through the Rain (John Dempsey); Westering Home (H Roberton)
Side Two: Admiral Benbow; Time I Was On My Way (John Dempsey); Bonnie George Campbell; The Jolly Roger (John Dempsey); Flo'ers o' the Forest; The Man from Cyandra

All songs traditional except where indicated

David McCabe, John Dempsey, Ken McKay

All Folk Together

All Folk Together (EMI Talisman STAL 5013, c.1969)
with The Islanders, The Ian McCalman Folk Group, The Lowland Folk Four, Anne Byrne, Eddie & Finbar Furey

Side One: Travelling Through the Rain (Dempsey) Side Two: Johnny Cope