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Dick Gaughan is a troubadour out there, on the road, taking his songs and music around the world and only making the occasional foray into the recording studio when the urge comes on him.
And, in the course of it all, making new friends, new enemies, and influencing people.
Dick was brought up immersed in the musical traditions and culture of the Gaels, both Scots and Irish, which naturally, therefore, provide the foundation for everything he does.
He has been a professional musician and singer since January 1970 (2015 is his 68th year on the planet), has been playing guitar since the age of seven and made his first solo album in 1971 (No More Forever).
Working in the broad milieu of folk music Dick has recorded extensively in many countries and in
various combinations with other musicians and has also worked extensively as a session musician
in a wide variety of musical styles.
“I love the work of Scotland’s Dick Gaughan. To my heart and eyes and ears, he’s a giant of the folk realm. This particular song, a Gaughan original from Dick’s 1998 album, Redwood Cathedral, speaks to my feelings as I lost an uncle in WWII (Abe is pictured near the beginning of the video). I don’t believe that my mother ever fully recovered from the loss of her baby brother. This song also speaks to the power of generations, and to Gaughan’s Scottish roots.”
Dick Gaughan was an early member of the Boys of the Lough and is on their first album. He was with the now-legendary Scottish folk-rock band, Five Hand Reel, making three albums with them in the 1970’s. In the 1990’s he founded and produced the short-lived but quite extraordinary ensemble Clan Alba.
According to a critics poll in fRoots, he recorded the best album of the 1980’s (Handful of Earth).
So clearly, Dick has been at the cutting edge of Scottish music for almost five decades! Guitarist,
singer, songwriter, actor, musical director, composer, arranger, producer, engineer, he’s been
there, done it. He is a stunning singer with a wonderfully expressive voice belying passion, allied
to a dazzling guitar technique; Dick just doesn’t deliver gigs which are ‘ordinary’.
Well known for his forthright and long-time consistently held, oft-expressed political views Dick
has never been attracted by a vogue of consensual, namby-pamby, pragmatic and equivocating
politics. Dick gives voice to an uncompromising solidarity with the flotsam and jetsam of
tunnel-vision global capitalism: the victims, the helpless, the wronged, the fighters, the brawny
working-class bravehearts who made capitalism work (after a fashion). This has a particular
resonance today in the early 21st century.
The hideous events in Chile in 1973, when the liberal world lost not only Allende but also the
poet and singer Victor Jara, served to underline a young Gaughan’s empathy with the oppressed,
wherever they may be, and amplified his desire to shout their case from the rooftops. And out of
that solidarity, Gaughan burns. There is fire. There is anger. There is cauterising scorn.
In more recent years Dick has composed and arranged music for films and television dramas and
his 90-minute orchestral work, Timewaves, was performed as the closing concert at the 2004
Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow. He also had a commissioned orchestral work performed
at Celtic Connections in January 2007 called Treaty 300 (three hundred years since the Act of
Union between England and Scotland).
Dick has collaborated successfully over the past year or two with Canadian reggae act The Jason
Wilson Band (feat. Dave Swarbrick and Pee Wee Ellis) while, at the same time, performing with
his own top class (of course!) 7-piece band (feat The Bevvy Sisters) for the occasional gig.
In December 2009 Dick was honoured by being inducted into the Scots Trad Music Hall of
Fame. Then, less than two months later in London, he received a Lifetime (not yet!)
Achievement Award at BBC Radio 2’s annual Folk Awards ceremony.
Dick is the only performer to have been so honoured by his musical peers both north and south of the Border.
Dick was handed the BBC Radio 2 award by Neil Finn (of Crowded House) who had flown all the way from New Zealand at his own expense to be able to do so! Remarkable