Folkie’s award win hits the right note

Ian Green set up Greentrax Records after leaving the police. Picture: comp
Ian Green set up Greentrax Records after leaving the police. Picture: comp
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A police officer turned folk music label supremo has won a growth and innovation award in the Capital.

Ian Green was born in Forres, Morayshire, in 1934, where as a young boy he was steeped in folk music heritage.

He went to seven schools in Morayshire – thanks to his father’s search for work – but folk music was a constant presence.

His family moved to Edinburgh in 1948, where his father played the bagpipes in tribute to the family roots.

At the age of 18 he signed up to the army and served for three years, seeing action in Korea. After leaving the army in 1955, Ian joined Edinburgh City Police in what was to be a 30-year career with the force. A year later he married June and they had two sons and a daughter.

The police social club at York Place was set up in the 1960s and colleagues knew Ian would be the right person to arrange a folk evening to raise money to help retired officers. The evenings were a huge success and became a regular fixture.

During travels around the Capital Ian noticed a poster advertising a folk band – The Cotters.

Providence would have it that Ian spotted The Cotters’ car one day whilst out on patrol. He followed the band for more than a mile and eventually flagged down a bemused driver who was not handed a caution but an offer of a gig at the Police Folk Club.

Comedian Billy Connolly had performed at the club, causing a stir with his notoriously controversial “Last Supper” sketch. Ian stepped in and argued Connolly’s case and the Big Yin was invited back for another show.

Ian’s burgeoning collection of folk LPs led him to sell a few and soon he was receiving mail orders from across the globe. On retiring from the police as a police inspector in 1986, Ian went from disc retailer to record producer when he founded Greentrax Records – a pursuit funded entirely from his police pension. The company was a quick triumph, soon releasing around ten albums a year. One record sold a surprise 1000 copies in Austin, Texas, after being played on local campus radio.

To celebrate 20 years in business, Greentrax released a three CD set – Scotland: The Music & The Song – accompanied by a showcase concert in the Capital. That same year, Ian was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Last month saw Ian pick up an award for growth and innovation at East and Midlothian Business Awards, held at the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh.

“I have been told that I’m absolutely obsessional about traditional Scottish music. This music has never truly had its due place in mainstream media and I will help promote our rich musical heritage however I can.”