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Old Scots

A Brief History

In May 1971, Eric Giler and Craig MacDonald were rehearsing with their band, The Eclipse, and needed to borrow a tape recorder. John Burns was able to procure one from the audio visual department from the school they attended. John brought it to the session and helped set it up. John mentioned that he also played guitar and Craig and Eric were impressed that John could play the chords to the Grand Funk Railroad song "HeartBreaker."

The three of us began rehearsing that summer, forming a new band. In October John invited his longtime friend, Steve Taylor to jam with Eric and Craig. Steve brought his bass and his infamous Farfisa Organ to the session and we jammed in John's garage for the afternoon. That jam was recorded on reel to reel tape. 

The band took the name "The Sons of Ginzo" and later added Paul Moyer on sax. The band lasted for two years until Eric and John went to college. 

Steve, who played with a number of musicians at the time, then formed "Electric Eddie and the Cosmic Blue Notes", a more ambitious ensemble consisting of a rhythm section an four horns. Craig and Paul were members, along with Randy and Doug Hoover, Alan Gamble, and Pat Spencer. This band lasted only a short while until the other members went off to college. John Joined this band his first summer back from college. They recorded 5 songs in John's garage in the summer of 1974.

John, Craig, Steve, Eric, and Paul all went off to various careers in different directions but remained in touch. Steve and John shared a house in the 1980's for a few years in Norwalk, CT, where they penned the songs "Vegetarian Slime" and "Power Lounging".

In 2004 Eric, John,Steve, and Craig had a reunion. Eric flew Steve and John in his private jet to upstate New York where Craig lives and we spent an evening at Rep Studios in Ithaca catching up and jamming.

The following year John took a couple of song ideas that he and Craig had recorded together in 1973 and began adding new tracks. He sent the modified tracks to Craig and this sparked a new collaboration between Craig and John. They would send ideas back and forth - at first by CD, and then by file sharing. Steve joined the mix, and eventually Eric joined us again, renting us a studio in Boston for one day in December 2010 so we could reunite and recording more detailed versions of "Vegetarian Slime and "Power Lounging"

We call this new band "Old Scots" since each of us - Burns, MacDonald, and Taylor - has some Scottish Heritage. In 2010 we released our first album, "39". That was how long we'd known each other and how long it took to produce an album.

In April of 2014 we released our second album "Power Lounging/Miracle Water". We are old friends continuing a legacy of creating music together and continue a legacy that started over 40 years ago. We have started to build a fan base on facebook and are working on material for their third album. 

John Burns - Lead Guitar, Engineer


John was born in Mt. Vernon, NY and lived in Stamford,CT for the first two years of his life. He was the first of three children, brother David, a year younger, and sister Jane, 6 years younger. 

His Mother( still with us in her 90"s), studied music and her concentration was singing. she studied opera and singing arias. His Father( who passed away in 2000, was a professional illustrator. He illustrated over 100 books and other types of illustration in his career. 

The family moved to Wilton CT. and that is where John grew up. He studied piano for four years, but when he saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, everything changed. He became interested in the guitar and has not looked back. He started guitar lessons when he was 13. His parents bought his first amp (which he still has and is used with Old Scots to this day). It is an Ampeg Gemini 20 watt amp.

John studied under Alan Dean through high school. Alan Dean taught  the guitarist, John Scofield as well. 

John joined the band that future Old Scots members Eric Giler and Craig MacDonald had. (See Old Scots-A Brief History in this section). Eric, and Steve Taylor (who was a band member as well) all took lesson from Mr. Dean.

John went on to Berklee College of Music and earned his degree in Music Composition.

John went on the road with several different bands for a 5 year period.

Music took a back seat for a while in the mid-80's through the mid-90's. He ha to take on a day job to make ends meet while still doing gigs on the weekends.

John got married in 1990 to Diane Lynch. Their child, Sara Anne was born in January 1995.

John was able to get away from the tedious day gigs and started to work full time as a private guitar and bass instructor. He got his certification to be able to teach in the public schools and has been in the Milford public school system since 2006. He teaches a strings program in Milford and has a Masters degree on Music Education.

John has continued to gig and write music. His songwriting collaboration with Craig MacDonald and Steve Taylor in Old Scots has produced two albums and they are in the process of writing new music for their third album.

John's influences range from the Beatles to Frank Zappa to Pat Metheny to Gentle Giant to Bruce Cockburn to Miles  Davis to Ornette Coleman to the Monkees to Gov't Mule to  Charlie Christian to Jeff Beck to Stravinsky. Jazz, progressive rock, 20th Century, Baroque, classical, metal. Whatever style sounds great to John will appeal to him and influence his playing.

Steve Taylor - Bass, Vocals

Steve showed up in John's garage in 1971 and played Farfisa Combo Compact organ. Oh, and bass. Taking a cue from John, he studied bass with Alan Dean for a while. Later studies brought him to Berklee for a summer, New England Conservatory for a year, Reed College for a degree in music, and years wandering in the wilderness as a cab driver, video store manager, word processor and customer service guy. Then into the CD-ROM business--working on such projects as "Star Trek Omnipedia" and "Captain's Chair."

Musically, Steve played for two decades with John in Paul Lacano and the Cocktail Shakers. He also performed with Swing Fever and Tony Lavorgna (4-voice 40s-style vocal group), Swingstreet (an 18-piece 40s-style big band), the Doug Schlink Trio, and Tracey Lyons. (site)

Getting back together with John and Craig (and Eric, sometimes!) has been an inspiration and a treat. I hope you hear the fun we have together. Thanks for listening!

Craig MacDonald - Drums, Guitar, Vocals, Engineer