Dick Gaughan has been at the cutting edge of Scottish folk music for almost five decades. A guitarist, singer, songwriter, actor, musical director, arranger, record producer, engineer and goodness knows what else – he has been there and done it all. He is a brilliant singer with a passion in his wonderfully expressive voice which is allied to an amazing guitar technique which can leave you mesmerised.
In December 2009, Dick was honoured by being included in the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame and within a year he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards ceremony in London. He has received many other accolades but too many to mention here.
Dick has been a professional musician and singer since 1970. He has recorded extensively and his album Handful of Earth on Topic Records was chosen by a critics’ poll in fRoots as the Best Album of the 1980s. As well as a successful solo career, Dick was an early member of The Boys Of The Lough, the legendary Five Hand Reel and the founder member of the short-lived but quite extraordinary Clan Alba.
The first ten tracks on this album were recorded live in 1982 in the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, next to Harvard University Campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA by Brian O’Donovan, a broadcaster and journalist born in Ireland but then living in Boston.
Early in 2019 Brian came across the original tapes and sent a copy to Scotland to be used in any way to benefit Dick. Ian McCalman and Ian Green heard the recordings and agreed this was “vintage Dick Gaughan” and the recordings would make a wonderful live album. Dick Gaughan approved wholeheartedly, and Brian O’Donovan granted their use at no cost.
Some of Dick’s all-time greats are on these Harvard tapes: Erin Go Bragh, Now Westlin Winds, Song For Ireland, Your Daughters and Your Sons, The Worker’s Song, a three-reel instrumental and more.
The Freedom Come All Ye track includes the late great Johnny Cunningham accompanying Dick, on fiddle. This track is quite unique because we believe it was the first and only time Dick and Johnny shared a stage together.
The Cambridge tapes were rather short in playing time and it was decided to add a bonus track – Dick decided on three bonus tracks! Previously unrecorded by Dick are Lemmings and a second instrumental, Sliabh na mBan – these tracks are from concerts in Milngavie in 2010 and 2012, generously made available by Jason Smith the concert organiser. Connolly Was There is from the Greentrax archive.
This is an album not to be missed, and even Dick regards The Harvard Tapes as possibly the best live recordings of himself ever. This album is a quite remarkable collection and is Dick’s seventh album for Greentrax.
In October 2016, an MRI scan confirmed Dick had suffered a stroke several months previously, from which he is now gradually recovering but which has prevented him from touring. However, he bravely joined the cast of the Far, Far From Ypres stage presentation in several concerts, plus an extensive tour in 2018. Dick will benefit from profits from The Harvard Tapes. Both Brian O’Donovan and Jason Smith are providing the tracks free of any charge or royalty, and production costs are being met by Ian McCalman and Ian Green with help from John Slavin. This will allow a large royalty to go to Dick in his enforced ‘rest’ from touring.