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Folk music has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in recent years, and in much broader forms than the earlier booms in the 1950s and 60s. In those days, folk was a tightly defined genre, and as Bob Dylan found when he went electric at Newport Folk Festival, crossing the line was a dangerous thing to do.

But folkies have often crossed the border, bringing back with them successful pop and rock tunes to be rendered as folk songs. Some great examples this week in Tony Hillier’s World of Music.


Dick Gaughan is a Scot, from Leith on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. Gaughan was brought up immersed in the musical traditions and culture of the Gaels, both Scots and Irish. He’s played guitar since age 7, made his first album in 1970 and is an accomplished session musician and sound engineer. He’s known for a very traditional style of folk and Celtic music, but here he covers a Rolling Stones tune that, in Dick’s hands, sounds like a venerable folk tune.


Next we hear from Steve Tilston – one of England’s finest song-smiths. Born in Liverpool and raised in the Midlands, Steve made his recording debut in 1971 with the classic An Acoustic Confusion & has been turning out quality albums ever since.Tony brought Steve to far north Queensland to perform a few years back, where he was well received. On his live album, Hemistry, Steve turns his hand to Elvis Presley.

Next up – folk legend Richard Thompson.

thompsonRichard was born in west London, the son of a guitar playing detective. Rock & roll was everywhere but Richard’s father had jazz and traditional Scottish music in his record collection and this shaped Richard’s musical destiny. At age 18 he joined the newly formed Fairport Convention, the band scored an international record deal largely on the appeal of Richard’s guitar playing. These days, he’s an accomplished song-writer, performer, raconteur and one of the great examples of a talent that rises above record industry labels to appeal to people of all musical tastes. His take on a Who classic is priceless.


RUBY TUESDAY – Dick Gaughan, from the 1996 Greentrax album Sail On

IT’S NOW OR NEVER – Steve Tilston, from the 2001 Hubris Records album Live Hemistry

SUBSTITUTE – Richard Thompson, from the 2006 Free Reed Records box set The Life & Times of Richard Thompson

TONY HILLIER CASTTony Hillier is one of Australia’s leading music journalists and a musician of long standing here in far north Queensland. His informed and insightful coverage of music features in The Weekend Australian and Rhythms magazine .

Tony Hillier’s World of Music is also available as a podcast. Search for Tony Hillier on your podcast app or in the iTunes store. And you can stay in touch with the FNQ music scene with Tony at

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