Mick Riddel

Mick grew up in Stow winning competitions for his singing from a young age. He works as a fencer, but has played with bands several nights a week over many years, passing his musical talent on to son, Ewan who is a singer/songwriter.

Mick was spotted at primary school for his singing talent and encouraged by Mrs Wilkinson who ran the 'brilliant, award-winning' school choir. He sang a solo of 'The Muffin Man' at the age of 6 at the school concert in 1953. She entered him into the Border's Music festival which operated yearly for pupils in P5,6,7 and he won the solo section two years in a row. See Photo MR1 Hawick Festival 1957. He remembers how nervous he was as, the year after he had won, the expectation for him to win again was very high. Mr. Robertson, the visiting music teacher from Musselburgh was committed and passionate about promoting music in the school. His daughter taught in Stow school at a later stage.

As well as a school concert the pupils were expected to put on a benefit concert for the pensioners every year. Isobel Hayes played the piano. Mick remembers singing 'Never Felt More Like Singing the Blues' by which was made a hit in GB by Tommy Steel. It was very modern at the time. It had a whistling section in it too. There was always a full house for the pensioner's concert.

Both the school choir and the pipe band were to have a big musical influence on Mick. At home there was music too. His Dad played the button key accordion. Mick learnt to play it too. He remembers playing the box with his Dad in the hall, accompanied by Bob Milne, the pipe major, on the piano. He remembers having to keep playing for a long time which he hadn't been expecting.

The pipe band he started in his teens. He remembers wearing a kilt far too big for him, supported by braces. You had to graduate from the chanter to the pipes. It took a while to get yourself into the band. It went through a phase when it was really good and there was talk of entering competitions. Then several band members went away to other things. He remembers Hamish McAskill lodged with his Granny and drove the baker's van.

At home they had an Estey organ with foot pedals which you pumped up and down to work the bellows. This was the first keyboard he ever played. Mick remembers it got a lot of use at New Year. They lived in Hill View. He remembers people playing music in the Royal Hotel on a Saturday night. The Springbank was too small and Manor Head was not a pub at this stage. There was an accordion player who lived at Stagehall who would come across to get lessons from his Dad. Other members of the family played music too. Mick had an Auntie Effie who played the piano accordion really well. He remembers playing with her in Edinburgh. She was a real star. His brother Danny was a drummer in the pipe band.

The next musical influence was rock and roll. Keith Robinson, Graham Whittle and Peter Duffy, from Anvil Cottage, encouraged Mick to join them as a singer in his late teens. Keith Robinson taught him his first few chords on guitar. They practised in Stow town hall. Duncan McKinnon got them into the big bands in Gala in the volunteer hall every Saturday, playing to crowds of five or six hundred people. There were no fire regulations then. Their band was called 'The Jaguars.' Soon they were travelling to gigs all over the North of England and Scotland.

In 1972, as a newly formed band Bodkin, they played university gigs. They produced an album which Jim West recorded in Falkirk. Jim still has the rights to the album. There are now illegal copies being produced and sold on the web. Loads of photos were taken of this band as it won a competition in Bathgate. Following this they were sent to London to take part in a competition there. Unfortunately, the band folded soon afterwards due to lack of funds. Their drummer's brother played for East of Eden.

Mick moved on to do residencies with Mike Scannel, who was a drummer and a very good singer. Dave Thomson was on bass guitar and Colin Matheson their keyboard player. They played big clubs such as the BMC in Gorgie. They would stay for a couple of years at each club and then move on to another. It was hard work. They played 4 nights a week..... one practice night and then Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights entertaining. Dave Thomson was Mick's best man at his wedding. Robert Reid, a music teacher at Hawick, took over from Colin when he moved on. Keyboard players used to change quite regularly.

Son Matthew became interested in music at a young age. Mick and Matthew would record songs together at home from the time Matthew was about 15. He studied music at Brunston College in Edinburgh. The students would be put together to make up bands and sent out on gigs. They were then rotated monthly so that they got used to playing with different people and influences. Matthew writes and plays his own songs. His band is called RBW Rhythm Beats Working. Jack Bertram has a recording studio in his garage at Stagehall. Matthew makes use of this from time to time as well as using the home recording equipment.