Showing posts with label folk singer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label folk singer. Show all posts

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Concert to Support Dick Gaughan

His informed, entertaining stories are worth hearing!
It is sad to hear that Scottish traditional singer and guitarist Dick Gaughan is ill. There is a concert in Edinburgh to help support him – 27th November, festival theatre Edinburgh.  

Billy Bragg, Aly Bain, Phil Cunningham, Karine Polwart! In honour and support of Leith's finest: Dick Gaughan. Fundraising show - at a time of illness - Festival Theatre Edinburgh. http://www.edtheatres.com/dickgaughan#


I first heard Dick Gaughan in my twenties at an Edinburgh gig. I heard he was one of the best and most unique guitar players.  
I’ve heard him at Celtic Connections on the concert hall stage, when he stunned the audience with his profound version of Burn’s ‘Parcel of Rogues’. I’ve heard his full set at my local folk club, Milngavie folk club (MFC). He is a top guitarist and plays guitar with an open tuning in the style of Davy Graham

When he comes to play there he always takes time to chat. There is no pretensions about him. I remember he spoke of playing with Emmy Lou Harris.


I’ve heard many folk singers live and Gaughan is by miles the most moving and powerful.  Like Dylan, he doesn’t smooth over the Big Issues of our time, like Dylan. I was also moved by his interpretation of Burn’s ‘Westlin Winds’, which he said is one of the best songs ever written – with its simple beauty and expression of nature and love.

My favourite Gaughan songs include – ‘Both Sides the Tweed’, ‘What You Do With What You’ve Got’, ‘Outlaws and Dreamers’ – which he certainly is!

He hails from Leith Edinburgh. His mother was Scottish, a MacDonald from Lochaber and a Gaelic speaker and an Irish father.

 Best wishes and get well soon Dick!


My favourite image of Dick at my local folk club

I have several Dick Gaughan blogs on here  -

Nowadays the barrage of media attempts to put forward ‘one’ message he claimed and he likes to be part of what he calls the ‘awkward squad’ who are the grain of sand in the ointment and have other ways of looking at reality - and try to at least think about it!

He spoke about Dylan’s beautifully crafted songs that punched out images such as ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. Gaughan played with Aly Bain’s Boys of the Lough and a punk band called Five Hand Reel. Like many others on the folkscene back then he developed a drink problem and then he had a breakdown. He had to clean up and dry up.

Some very few artists have the ability to transport and transcend the moment, and Dick does so with forceful guitar playing and classic traditional songs with a strong message and a deep expressive, growling voice. You come away from his gigs questioning but ultimately renewed in the faith of our shared humanity. Dick Gaughan is a Scottish living legend, and he usually performs every January at 'Celtic Connections' Glasgow. “   


Friday, 10 July 2015

Peggy Seeger Oran Mor

The timeless story of songs and words

I enjoyed a gig last week at the Oran Mor Glasgow with the delicate clear voice of folk legend Peggy Seeger (wife of renowned folk  songwriter Ewan MacColl) She sparkled and shone at the age of 80 and took us into her world of music. She said that it is only music that uses all of our minds.

What a lovely classy, dedicated and informed lady!  She offered us some of her collection of stories she held in a large notebook – some were funny, some profound and some moving. Seeger is an accomplished musician and the daughter of folklorist Charles Seeger and her brother is the American folk singer songwriter Pete Seeger.

The Gig
Peggy played a full set with her two sons from 7.30 to 10, (there was no support) with a twenty minute interval. I was glad I wasn’t late!  I feel sure it must take careful thought to choose from a lifetime catalogue of traditional folk songs and stories to chose from. Peggy beamed and showered little pearls of wisdom. 

They began the set with the traditional folk song Hard Times. They sang of longings and of good times and the words, “The dark rolling sea between you and me, How I long for the days gone by.“ Neill and Callum sang Freight Train and also a couple of unaccompanied songs. 

She clearly enjoyed sharing the stage with her two sons with Neill and Callum, who provided lovely blended backing harmonies and guitar. They played some traditional folk instruments - autoharp, banjo, guitar, concertina and piano. Ewan and Callum sang Freight Train. and also a couple of unaccompanied songs. 

The family trio finished the set with the life-affirming Ewan song The Joy of Living. For their encore Peggy treated us to the real version of MacColl’s most famous song, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Folk artists sing with a realism and true heart and never over sing or over do the emotions. 

There are no pretensions or airs or graces around Peggy. She stood for several songs and for others she clutched her instruments. Occasionally she waved her hands and arms wide. Peggy beamed and showered little pearls of wisdom.  It was heartening to see Peggy still full of joie de vivre and ready to command the stage! At 80, not only is she wise and like the highest quality red wine, she is still challenging herself to be fresh and relevant. 

After Ewan died Peggy returned to America. She returned to the UK in 2010 and has recorded her first ever solo album which marks a musical rebirth after she suffered from serious ill health.

In 2015 Peggy released Everything Changes. She has said that she enjoyed greatly working with a full session band for the album, which was produced by her son Calum MacColl and features musicians Simon Edwards (Talk Talk, Kirsty MacColl), James Hallawell (The Waterboys, David Gray), Martyn Barker (Shriekback, Goldfrapp) and Kate St John (Dream Academy, Nick Drake). 

I was pleased with my photos and hope they tell the story of the gig - it is always a challenge and at a classy gig like this full of dedicated folk fans I don’t like to disturb the set and I always aim to be discreet.  I take photos either seated or at the side. This was a family affair with her sister-in-law managing the tour.

Women need to say STOP! 
One story from Peggy stood out – about an Amazon tribe where they considered the men tended to be destructive – they cut down trees for canoes, they killed animals for food and they fought wars. Wheras the women were the nurturers of the crops and the children. So they felt the women needed to tell the men when to stop. They would say STOP, we have enough canoes stop cutting down trees. They would say we have enough to eat, STOP killing animals. We don’t need any more wars STOP! When one of the tribe visited the western world she wondered why there were only male voices to be heard and why the women were not saying STOP.

Music is the healer and motivator.