Folk firebrand Gaughan follows in Bruce's footsteps
Gary Fitzpatrick • Published 25 Aug 2010 16:04
Dick Gaughan, Bruce Festival, Dunfermline Abbey. 21st August.
IT would be easy for any performer to be upstaged by the majestic surroundings of Dunfermline Abbey Nave but that was never going to happen with Scots folk legend Dick Gaughan.
The Leith singer/songwriter cheerfully admitted it was "really weird" playing in such an atmospheric setting.
But whether the gig is in a historic place of worship or is a strike benefit concert in a working men's club, Gaughan's radical message of social justice and anti-imperialism is unswerving.
His time was confined to just over an hour on this occasion but he managed to cram in a Scottish history lesson far removed from any he received at school.
"That amounted to 'in 1314 we gubbed the English, then four hundred years later the English gubbed us and that's about it'," he recalled.
As half-Irish, half-Highland Scot with some travellers blood thrown in, Dick says that pedigree has been getting him into trouble all his life.
He told his audience that growing up in Leith he was variously called a tinker b******, a teuchter b******* and a Fenian b******.
He also told the story of 'Thomas Muir of Huntershill', a Scot transported to Australia in the late 18th Century for his support of republicanism.
Gaughan treated his audience to his versions of 'Scots Wha Hae' and 'No Gods (And Precious Few Heroes)', by Brian McNeill, which lambasts Scottish complacency in the face of dole queues and English imperialism.
Another McNeill composition praised the life's work of Scottish Calvanist John Muir, the man who persuaded the Americans to found Yosemite National Park.
The song and interesting tale to present it summed up the event. Imparting knowledge with good-humoured bite, it was an enjoyable evening much appreciated by the audience.
Now 62, Gaughan is determined to show you're never to old to rock n' prole and is a big admirer of American comic George Burns who was signing five year appearance deals when he was 97.
"'You can't help getting older but you don't have to get old', that's what he said and I agree," he laughed.
It previous days, Gaughan's revolutionary zeal would not gone down as well at the Abbey. He would probably have been thrown in the nearest dungeon. But, notwithstanding the grandiose setting, his non-conformist message seemed fitting for a festival commemorating Robert the Bruce, another who dared to rock the boat and follow his own convictions no matter what.
This article appeared in Dunfermline Press 01 Jan 70