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Traditional Music >> Performers >> Scottish Singers >> The Cotters

The Cotters

The Cotters were Alex Sutherland and Alistair ("Ali") Watson from Edinburgh, and they got together after meeting in a folk club. Apparently Ali bought a mandolin from a friend which had "The Cotters" on it, the name of another band which was now defunct; waste not want not, they took on that name. Later they did a TV commercial for Carling Black Label in Canada, and recorded one album that I know about (see below). Alistair Watson left the Scottish music scene in 1980 and emigrated to Western Australia. More recently he became ill with cancer and died in 2001. He had visited Scotland earlier that year.

Dr John Barrow recently wrote to me about The Cotters:

Ali - Alistair Watson - was a great bloke - blessed with a strong, sure voice and a really nice guy. His partner in The Cotters, Alex Sutherland, also died of cancer several years ago now - mid-1980s if I remember correctly. He was a piano-tuner to trade while Ali had had several jobs - notably a deep-sea mariner and he could tell stories about that; can't remember what job he was doing while he was singing when I knew him.
The Cotters' main stamping ground was Royal Terrace, aka Edinburgh's Amber Mile, where they sang every Fri, Sat and Sun nights in The Arkaig and Lochewe Hotels in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A buzzin' 3 night stint with the hotels' rooms packed to bursting generally.
At the same time The Doobries (Bill Barclay and Jimmy McKinlay) also played Royal Terrace playing the same venues as did the Dunedins (if I remember correctly; can't recall their names now).
Dick Gaughan even sang a season or two in The Lochewe in the very late 1960s before heading south and starting his solo professional career. Other weel-kent folkie faces to be seen down there were Tich Frier (who was in the Bitter Withy with Lesley Hale and Andy Ramage), The Norfolk, and Ian Simpson.

After Ali went to Australia, Alex, teamed up with Ian Simpson and named themselves The Alexians, and played in several places including the Elm Bar. Alistair Watson's son (also Alistair) has recently returned to Britain to try to build up his own musical career. In his later years, Ali compiled a set of his own songs on CD that was distributed to family and friends only. I'll send you a copy if you wish. I also have a cd copy of the album that he and Alex made.

Any other information would be gratefully received (email me).




The Cotters (Page One Records FORS 030, 196?)

Side One: Mingulay Boat Song; Killicrankie; Lowlands Low; ye Jacobites; Charlie's Lament; McPherson's Farewell
Side Two: Tramps and Hawkers; Bonnie Ship the Diamond; Wild Flying Dove; Standard On the Braes O'Mar; Fair and Tender Ladies; Night Errant

All songs traditional except where indicated

Alex Sutherland, Alistair Watson