Dick Gaughan Milngavie Folk Club June 2011

Photo: dick gaughan. review by Pauline Keightley

Dick Gaughan is a Scottish traditional folk singer, guitarist, songwriter, composer and record producer. He sings of Scottish heroes and stories of our lost past and long forgotten voices. Gaughan has been playing the circuits both at home and aboard for many years and is a legend in folk circles. He is one of the most down-to-earth and likeable artists in Scotland and is without pretensions of any kind.

I met Gaughan when I arrived early at the venue and he seemed to know me this time round. We had a little chat and he spoke of playing with Emmylou Harris and what a nice person she was.

He began his set with 'What You Do With What You've Got' - the words full of meaning and ringing true. He said he would keep this as his opening song until he found a better one) :

It's 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

There is an urgency and force about Gaughan's music as if he feels strongly he has important messages to convey in his music. He plays open chords on guitar and his songs are melodic and emotive. Harsh and deep in tone, his voice has a poignant edge and it hits home hard.

He sang Burn's 'Now Westlin Winds' - his 'favourite song of all time'; a traditional song re-interpreted by Gaughan - 'Both Sides The Tweed'; 'Thomas Muir of Huntershill'; 'Why Old Men Cry'; 'No God and Precious Few Heroes' (Brian MacNeill); 'Song For Ireland' and 'Huntershill'. He also included in his set a powerful guitar instrumental and a song by the Scottish poet Hamish Henderson.

He engages well with his audience and likes to make them think - he wondered whether we have forgotten the protest voices of the 60s and sang - 'No God and Precious Few Heroes' (Brian MacNeill), 'Whatever Happened', 'We Shall Overcome' and 'What Are We Fighting For'. He works interesting thoughts into his performance and on 'Why Old Men Cry' he spoke of how he had felt connected to his paternal grandfather, who died from mustard gas poisoning, while visiting the first World War graveyards in Germany. He shows understanding and compassion and spoke of his own understanding of the sadness in the eyes of old miners.

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

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 - a world weary traveller of stories and music.

"Dick Gaughan", Scottish, traditional, folk, singer, guitarist, songwriter, composer,

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