Musician and folk club organiser;
Born: August 7, 1955; Died: July 11, 2012.
Kenny Caird, who has died aged 56, was one of the Glasgow and wider folk scene's greatest champions. A musician himself, he became the very dedicated organiser of the city's Star Folk Club, a role that involved running club nights every week throughout the year and often putting guest artists up in the family home, where the fare included a meal cooked by Caird, for whom cooking was a passion.
He was born into a musical family. His mother, Nan, was an accomplished pianist and his paternal grandfather played violin with the Scottish Varieties Orchestra. Caird began following in his grandfather's footsteps at school but his introduction to the blues in his teens saw him forsaking the violin for the guitar, beginning with a series of home-made instruments. As well as becoming proficient on guitar and later the guitar synthesiser, he learned to play the moothie, jaw harp and concertina and became a familiar figure at folk sessions around town.
After studying agriculture at Glasgow University, where his struggle with chemistry prevented him earning a degree, he took on various jobs, including kitchen work at Butlins and in retail management. His real forte developed when he became a self-taught computer wizard, going on to work latterly as an IT trainer with the Glasgow Regeneration Agency, helping the disadvantaged to acquire new skills and develop self-belief.
Away from work, although he was notorious among his friends for having no interest in sport – he was said to be the only Govanite who didn't know which of the Old Firm played in blue and which played in green – he loved cycling. He was particularly proud of completing the John O'Groats to Land's End marathon with Friends of the Earth.
From the 1970s onwards he was a regular at the Star Folk Club, playing floor spots both solo and in various groups and becoming the resident sound engineer. When, in the mid-1990s, the club's stalwart secretary and resident singer Arthur Johnstone retired, Caird took on the job of booking the musicians and acting as MC in his inimitable witty style. He had an endless supply of jokes and stories; his party piece was to challenge his audience to give him any subject and he would instantly, without fail, tell a joke on that subject. He was also very encouraging towards young, budding singers and musicians, giving many their first experience of live performance at the club, and he refused to be deterred when the club's then premises, the Society of Musicians in Berkeley Street, closed, finding alternative venues, first in the Press Club and then in the Riverside Club.
When he lost an eye to cancer he accepted his fate with typical humour, creating a website detailing the exploits of "the wan-eyed folkie" and he continued to sing and play guitar with the Catskinners, the group he formed with his wife, Trish, and his good friend, guitarist, singer and songwriter John McCreadie.
A few weeks ago, the cancer that he thought he'd overcome returned aggressively and he died with family and friends by his bedside.
He is survived by Trish and his daughter Roisin, his other daughter, Gemma, having died following an accident at home in 2003.
The admiration he inspired among the musicians he dealt with in running the Star Folk Club is such that a huge cast of club guests, including Dick Gaughan, Sheena Wellington, Adam McNaughtan, Gordeanna McCulloch and Mick West, will pay their respects during two concerts at St Andrew's in the Square in Glasgow this Saturday afternoon and evening.
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