Dick Gaughan Benefit Concert

at Old Fruitmarket

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The great and good gather to support the folk legend following his stroke.

Image of Dick Gaughan Benefit Concert
Photo: Creative Commons

Dick Gaughan is a legend in Scottish folk music. For 40 years, he has dominated the folk scene as a group member (Five Hand Reel et al), as a guitarist influencing many other folk guitarists, and as a distinctive singer reinterpreting traditional ballads and using contemporary song as political weapon. Dick is a man of the left and was a stalwart supporter of the miners and other industrial struggles and more recently a campaigner for independence and for a Scottish Socialist Republic. So when he was struck down with a stroke last year and could no longer perform, the Scottish folk scene was in despair and rallied to support him with a benefit concert at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre. Tonight, we are at a further benefit, but also to allow Celtic Connections audiences to honour Dick. A packed Fruitmarket at a sold out concert show how much Dick is appreciated for the many years he has performed at Celtic Connections.

The concert is opened by Scotland’s unofficial queen, Elaine C Smith, who not only comperes with great brio but sings very decently as well. She has an easy task to keep the crowd interested, with a great cast of singers there to pay homage to the great man. Notable among them are Martin Simpson and Tony McManus who pay tribute to Dick as a great guitarist as well as a fine singer. Other performers include Karine Polwart who sings with great conviction, and Dougie MacLean, himself a folk legend in Scotland for Caledonia, who rounds off the evening with another of his great songs. The Wilson Family, who worked with Dick supporting the Miners’ Strike, sing some great close harmony songs including Baker Hill. The Bevvy Sisters, Patsy Seddon and Mary Macmaster, plus the house band, provide great music. However, the biggest star of the night is Dick Gaughan himself who, sporting a white beard, takes to the stage to a standing ovation. He speaks clearly to thank the audience and says he hopes to come back next year and sing. Whether he does or not his place in Scottish folk music is assured.

Hugh Kerr has written on music and cultural politics for the Scotsman, the Herald, the Guardian and Opera Magazine. With Nana Mouskouri he was in charge of music policy for the European Parliament from 1994-99. He has visited over 50 opera houses round the world and this is his 50th Edinburgh Festival


2 Responses to Dick Gaughan Benefit Concert

  1. Geoff Hunter says:

    I would like to know how Dick Gaughan is. He has influenced me greatly, but I’ve never had the wherewithall to contribute actively to the many great things that Dick has sung about e.g. the great Redwoods, normal working people and the oppressed. No matter what state Dick is in, I would like to pass on my great gratitude for his enlightenment on many issues close to my heart. I know he will have influenced more songwriters/singers to reflect on the very same issues. I’ve been part of the Aberdeen oil industry but also spent time round a single bar fire with unemployed miners in the beautiful Rhymney Valley in Wales (1980’s) drinking cider and eating a stolen chicken from the supermarket. This is not the way life should be, let alone the sacrifice of Syrians,Africans, and otheroppressed people.

  2. Suzy Hunt says:

    Dick was and is an enormous influence in my life. He came to Santa Cruzi on several occasions and was so amazing and personable and an evocative singer/songwriter . His music gave me hope and inspiration when I really needed it in my life. Not just for a few minutes or an hour. I still listen to his music now and feel the change. I hope he is recovering well and I send many loving and healing thoughts!

    Dick, my dear friend and inspiration, may the support and love I send to you and the support and love of the many thousands of people you have inspired, heal and return you to our need to hear your sacred voice again!! Love you!!

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