Friday 23rd September, 8.00pm
Guitarist, singer, songwriter and unparalleled interpreter of traditional and contemporary folk songs, Dick Gaughan has been called “the Scottish Woody Guthrie” for the depth, passion and political conviction of his music. He has one of the finest voices on the planet, capable of capturing the heart with the most traditional of ballads in one moment and stirring the fire of the spirit with his uncompromising commentary on social injustices in the next. And as a guitar player since the age of seven, his mastery of the instrument – acoustic and electric – is astounding.
For more than 35 years, Dick Gaughan has been forging an incredible musical legacy. He recorded his first of many solo albums in 1971 before joining the Boys of the Lough, in time for their first album. Shortly after, he helped found the legendary Scots/Irish folk-rock band Five Hand Reel, with whom he performed and recorded three albums during the ’70s. Since that time, Gaughan has released a series of powerful solo albums and occasional collaborations, such as Parallel Lines with Andy Irvine. His 1980 album, Handful of Earth, was voted by a Folk Roots critic’s poll as “the album of the decade.” In the mid-’90s, Gaughan formed, Clan Alba, a “supergroup” of Scottish traditional singers and musicians, before resuming his solo career.
Dick is deeply committed to fighting social injustice and standing up for the common man in the face of oppression. His unwavering belief in the strength of the human spirit to conquer seemingly insurmountable obstacles has influenced his willingness to sing new songs and rework old ones to accentuate an essential optimism and belief in humanity’s ability to stand up and be free. In this, he has become a leading voice in the topical song movement, inspiring a generation of songwriters that includes Billy Bragg, who says “Gaughan is one of my favourite artists and has been a tremendous influence on my career.”
Dick Gaughan has many and various influences. In his guitar playing one can detect the influence of Doc Watson and Bert Jansch, but he also claims to have been influenced by musicians as diverse as Hank Williams and Sean O Riada. His songs have been recorded by Billy Bragg, Marty Black and Capercaillie amongst many others. He has also recorded extensively as a session musician. Gaughan’s interest in composition and orchestration has led to two orchestral commissions from the prestigious Celtic Connections festival: Timewaves (Lovesong to a People’s Music) in 2004 and, in 2007, his first symphonic work, Treaty 300; a musical examination of the effects of the Treaty of Union of 1707. In 2002 Gaughan released Prentice Piece, a self-selected thirty-year retrospective of his career, and a studio album, Lucky for Some, was released in April 2006. A live CD (the first since 1985) entitled Gaughan Live! at the Trades Club, was released in 2008. The Boston Globe described Gaughan as “One of Britain’s most innovative and contemporary voices . . .a superb musician, one of the finest guitarists in the British Isles (Martin Carthy has called him the best player on the folk scene), and a brilliant all-around entertainer.”