Showing posts with label guitarist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guitarist. 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.

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. “   

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Guitarist RM Hubbert

Sometimes the support artists are as interesting as the main artist at a gig. Such was the case for last night’s concert when guitarist and singer RM Hubbert took to the concert hall stage in support of Glasgow band Mogwai, Celtic Connections 2014,  (full review to follow)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Beverly & John Martyn

Martyn soothed the soul with his folk blues
The early 70s were a golden time for new music albums.  In 1973 singer songwriter and expert guitarist, John Martyn, released a defining British album of the 1970s Solid Air. The title song was a tribute to Nick Drake. He developed a new sound of acoustic guitar through a fuzz box, phase shifts and Echoplayer first shown on the album Stormbringer.  
Martyn’s music exhibited feelings of serenity, freedom and rapture that he craved in his life. In 1967 he recorded his experimental album London Conversation outside, which gave the record a free, unconstructed feel. .
I was going to write this blog about John, but when I started reading about him I discovered he gained much from his wife Beverly Kuter (which then led to my blog on woman and art).

I read recently about Beverly Martyn (or Bev Kutner) who had worked with Paul Simon, Nick Drake and Jimmy Page before she met John. I was surprised to hear of their song writing collaborations, her being a partnership with John and then her being left at home with the children, a home on top of a hill. A home she didn't even choose. 

Apparently John Martyn wrote his best songs with Beverly Kutner, his wife, which she gets little credit for.  Bev played piano while they wrote songs together for the album Solid Air and John would say that he would ‘credit her on the next song!’

Beverly and Martyn recorded three albums together  - Stormbringer, Road to Ruin and Bless the Weather - before John was persuaded by his record label to go solo. Beverly was then left on the house on the hill to raise their children while John toured. When John turned to drink he became abusive towards her and after one threatening scene Bev decided to leave him after ten years of marriage.
....and yet John wrote the song May You Never with Bev, all very poignant really. 
May You Never has to be one of the all time greatest songs yet when the song  was released as a single in 1971 it didn’t chart. The end of his marriage to Bev signalled the end of their classic songwriting decade.

Martyn was born Iain McGreachy and he gew up with an unsettled childhood. John spent his childhood between his grandmother in Glasgow and his mother in London. On tour Martyn was accompanied by jazz double bass player Danny Thompson for most of his music career. His blend of stand out bluesy folk and slurry style of singing gave Martyn a stand out sound on the 1960s folk circuit. Over his 40 year career John released 21 studio albums.
Times quote – ‘an electrifying guitarist and singer whose music blurred the lines between the boundaries of folk, jazz, rock and blues.’ 

Saturday, 16 July 2011

*Dick Gaughan Milngavie Folk Club June 2011

Dick Gaughan is a Scottish traditional folk singer and guitarist, a songwriter, composer and record producer. He sings of Scottish heroes and of stories of our lost past and long forgotten voices.  Gaughan has been playing the circuits both at home and abroad for many years now. He is a legend among folk circles and also one of the most down-to-earth and likeable artists without pretensions of any kind.  
I arrived early at the venue and met Gaughan and he seemed to know me from his last visit here. He spoke of playing with Emmylou Harris and what a nice person she was.

Gaughan sang Burn's Now Westlin Winds, his favourite songs of all time; a traditional song re-interpreted by Gaughan Both Sides The Tweed;  What You Do With What You've Got, the best opening song (Si Kahn);  Thomas Muir of Huntershill; Why Old Men Cry; No God and Precious Few Heroes (Brian MacNeill); Song For Ireland; Huntershill. He also played a powerful guitar instrumental and a song by the Scottish poet Hamish Henderson. 

He wondered on No God and Precious Few Heroes (Brian MacNeill) whether we have forgotten the protest voices of the 60s and sang - 'Whatever happened to ' We Shall Overcome' and 'What Are We Fighting For'.  On Why Old Men Cry he told of how he had felt connected to his paternal grandfather while visiting the first World War graveyards in Germany. His grandfather had died when he was half Gaughan's age from mustard gas poisoning and he connected this to the faces he remembered well as a child.  Now, he said, he understood the sadness in the eyes of old miners. 

There is an urgency and force about Gaughan's music as if he feels strongly he has important messages to get off his chest in his music. Gaughan searches below the surface of songs. He plays open chords on guitar and his playing is melodic and strongly emotive.  His voice has a poignant edge and is both harsh and deep in tone and it hits home hard. The words of his songs ring true and with his opening song 'What You Do With What You've Got (which he said he would keep as his opening song until he found a better one) he sang - 

Its' not just what you're born with, but what you do with what you've got.
What's the use of two strong legs, if you only run away.
And what use is the finest voice if you've nothing good to say?
What's the use of two good ears, if you don't hear those you love.
Words & Music : Si Kahn

He sang not of resolutions but of holding on to your vision. Gaughan was warmly received and seemed to enjoy the gig. I felt that his substance, refreshing honesty and questioning words must have impacted on the younger members of the audience.  On the older ones too!  

Now Westlin Winds (Written by Robert Burns as sung by Dick Gaughan)
Now westlin winds and slaughtering guns
Bring autumn's pleasant weather
The moorcock springs on whirring wings
Among the blooming heather
Now waving grain, wild o'er the plain
Delights the weary farmer
And the moon shines bright as I rove at night
To muse upon my charmer
The partridge loves the fruitful fells
The plover loves the mountain
The woodcock haunts the lonely dells
The soaring hern the fountain
Through lofty groves the cushat roves
The path of man to shun it
The hazel bush o'erhangs the thrush
The spreading thorn the linnet
Thus every kind their pleasure find
The savage and the tender
Some social join and leagues combine
Some solitary wander
Avaunt! Away! the cruel sway,
Tyrannic man's dominion
The sportsman's joy, the murdering cry
The fluttering, gory pinion
But Peggy dear the evening's clear
Thick flies the skimming swallow
The sky is blue, the fields in view
All fading green and yellow
Come let us stray our gladsome way
And view the charms of nature
The rustling corn, the fruited thorn
And every happy creature
We'll gently walk and sweetly talk
Till the silent moon shines clearly
I'll grasp thy waist and, fondly pressed,
Swear how I love thee dearly
Not vernal showers to budding flowers
Not autumn to the farmer
So dear can be as thou to me
My fair, my lovely charmer

What You Do With What You've Got  ( Music and Words by Si Kahn as sung by Dick Gaughan)

You must know someone like him
He was tall and strong and lean
With a body like a greyhound
And a mind so sharp and keen
But his heart, just like a laurel,
Grew twisted round itself
Till almost every thing he did
Caused pain to someone else
It's not just what you're born with
It's what you choose to bear
It's not how big your share is
But how much you can share
And it's not the fights you dreamed of
But those you really fought
It's not what you've been given
It's what you do with what you've got
Now what's the good of two strong legs
If you only run away?
And what use is the finest voice
If you've nothing good to say?
And what good is strength and muscle
If you only push and shove?
And what's the use of two good ears
If you can't hear those you love?
Between those who use their neighbours
And those who use a cane
Between those in constant power
And those in constant pain
Between those who run to evil
And those who cannot run
Tell me which ones are the cripples
And which ones touch the sun?

Dick Gaughan Photo gallery -
Dick singing Burn's Westlin Winds, his favourite song.  

Gaughan was born in Glasgow and was raised in Leith Edinburgh. His mother was a Highland Scot, his father a generation away from Ireland. From childhood, he was immersed in Scots and Irish musical traditions by both sides of his family. Gaughan is a national treasure. He is a world weary traveller of stories and music.