How we record, distribute, collect and listen to music is changing rapidly. Pause a while and savor the Greentrax story.
Ian Green was born in Forres, Morayshire, Scotland, in 1934, son of a head gardener who played the Highland bagpipe. Musical evenings were common in the Green house, and Ian was introduced to traditional music at an early age.
When Ian was 14 his family moved to Edinburgh, and he served his apprenticeship as a gardener in the Scottish capital. At age 18 he signed on for three years in the Army, serving in Korea. On leaving the Army in 1955, Ian joined Edinburgh City Police and subsequently spent 30 years in the force, retiring as a Police Inspector late in 1985.
During his police service Ian developed what has since been described as "an obsessional interest" in traditional music, especially the music of Scotland, and he became an avid collector of folk recordings. He was a founding member of the Edinburgh Police Folk Club (which became affectionately known on the folk scene as "Fuzzfolk"), guiding it successfully for 10 years.
He was also one of the founding members of the Edinburgh Folk Club, and co-editor of Sandy Bell's Broadsheet magazine, one of the earliest traditional music publications. He also produced concerts, and had the distinction of presenting The Bothy Band and Clannad in Edinburgh for the first time.
In the late 1970s, Ian set up Discount Folk Records, a mail order and festival stall service. In those days Ian and his wife, June, could be seen at many folk festivals, tending their huge selection of albums, and offering informed advice to their regular customers and visitors to Scotland. Quietly, however, Ian held a burning ambition to be involved in the actual recording of Scotland's many talented musicians and singers. His dream was realized in 1986. Greentrax Recordings was launched, funded solely by Ian's police pension.
One of the aims of the Greentrax label was to help highly talented Scottish musicians and singers reach wider audiences, especially those who had not yet recorded. Artists with debut albums on Greentrax, who have gone on to very successful musical careers, include Catherine-Ann MacPhee, Margaret Stewart, Ian Hardie, Burach, Deaf Shepherd, Robin Laing and Shooglenifty.
Greentrax continues to release a high percentage of debut albums, and several have won awards, including the BBC Radio Scotland/Living Tradition Album of the Year, 1994. Greentrax also received the East Lothian Business Achievement Award in 1997, for "good business practices and export achievement."
A successful record label must also have a core of established names, and the label has attracted a number of internationally known artists, including Aly Bain, Eric Bogle, Dick Gaughan, Jean Redpath, Jock Tamson's Bairns, and Natalie MacMaster. Early this year, Greentrax Recordings took on the distribution of Alasdair Fraser's highly regarded Culburnie label. By coincidence, both labels celebrated their 15 year anniversaries in 2001.
Greentrax has since marked its 20th Anniversary in 2006, with a stunning showcase concert in Edinburgh. Ian Green was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
Everyone who cares about the musical traditions of Scotland will be looking forward to many more anniversaries for Ian and his well-loved enterprise.