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Dick Gaughan and The Harvard Tapes

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. In recent years, Dick has had to deal with some health issues. In October 2016, an MRI scan confirmed Dick had suffered a stroke several months previously, from which, thankfully, he is now gradually recovering.

Unfortunately, though, this has prevented him from touring, a situation which, for any artist, results in a loss of much-needed income. He did, however, join the cast of the Far, Far From Ypres stage presentation on their 2018 tour, and his many admirers were thrilled to see and hear him on these occasions.

A chance find earlier this year has led to the release of some old recordings of Dick in what was a “definitive Gaughan concert from 1982”. Early in 2019, Brian O’Donovan came across the original tapes from a recording of a Gaughan concert in the Old Cambridge Baptist Church, next to Harvard University Campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Brian, a broadcaster and journalist born in Ireland but then living in Boston, had recorded them in 1982. He sent a copy to Scotland with instructions that they should be used in any way to benefit Dick. Ian McCalman and Ian Green heard the recordings and agreed this was “vintage Dick Gaughan” and that the recordings would make a wonderful live album. Dick 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 tapes were rather short in playing time, so Dick decided to add three bonus tracks. Previously unrecorded by Dick are Lemmings and a second instrumental, Sliabh Na mBan, both from concerts in Milngavie in 2010 and 2012, generously made available by Jason Smith, the concert organiser. Connolly Was There is added from the Greentrax archive.

Released on Greentrax this August, The “Harvard” Tapes is an album not to be missed, and even Dick regards it as possibly the best live recordings of himself ever. It is a quite remarkable collection and a welcome find. Dick will benefit from the profits from the CD. 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.

greentrax.com