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Steve Tilston The Reckoning (2011) 

                                     Steve Tilston – The Reckoning
Born: 26 March 1950 in Liverpool and raised in Leicestershire. 
Location: Bristol, England
Album release: Monday 25 July 2011
Record Label: HUBRIS RECORDS / (Honest Jons Records)
Website: http://www.stevetilston.com/
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/stevetilston
‘The Reckoning’ is quintessential Steve Tilston. It has insightful lyrics (reflecting an affinity with the landscape and the power of nature), a keen sense of history (with a nod to the potential of the future) and a sharp eye for social satire. Musically, he continues to show us why he is one of the UK’s most respected songwriters, continuing to create gorgeous melodies, in a series of musical contexts powerfully evocative of time and place.

01.) This Is The Dawn    5:30
Steve Tilston – Guitar/Vocals; Hugh Bradley – Double Bass; Richard Curran – Violin, Viola; Gus Taylor – Shaker, Dawn Chorus – the wild birds of Oxenhope
Insomnia can have its ‘upsides’.  I’ve baked a few loaves and started a few songs in the wee hours and in that respect, this one is pretty time specific. I have to add that, in the cold light of day, the bread has had the edge over most of the songs, but this one seemed to rise nicely above the rest. Living in the Pennine hills, over a thousand feet above sea level, I get to see some stirring sunsets and sunrises and this is in praise of one such dawn and the promise of a new day. The dawn chorus that accompanies the instrumental ending is supplied by local Yorkshire birds.
02.) Nottamun Town Return    3:29
Steve Tilston – Guitar/Vocals; Ruth Wilde – Double Bass; Mark Boyce – Drums; Keith Warmington –Harmonica; David Crickmore – Mandolin
A rewrite of one of my favourite traditional songs. The original is, on the face of it, a nonsense song which hints at sedition not far below the surface. Probably when it was written, sedition was a  capital offence, so in these supposedly more enlightened times, I have the luxury of allowing this  one to foam and seethe nearer  the surface.
03.) The Reckoning    3:19
Steve Tilston – Guitar/Vocals; Hugh Bradley – Double Bass; Robin Tyndale-Biscoe - Oboe
I’m not overfond of the term, but this one drips ‘baby boomer guilt,’ and I do care about the legacy we leave future generations. They say that nuclear waste remains radioactive for over five thousand years. Five thousand years ago was the Bronze Age and they were just starting to build the pyramids in Egypt. In my view it’s a long old time to leave something so toxic hanging around, particularly when no one seems to have a clue where to stash it.
04.) Pennine Spring    4:50
Steve Tilston – Guitar/Vocals; Gus Taylor – Accordion
I have not walked the whole of the Pennine way, just parts of it and some parts several times. Most days I like to get up on the tops and have a wander. I can go straight from my back garden up onto the moors and it’s become such an essential part of my existence. I have favourite rock outcrops that I sit on and watch the hills roll off into the distance and sometimes I remember to take a flask and a sandwich…it’s a small island, but up there it appears like a big country to me.
05.) Oil & Water    4:22
Steve Tilston – Guitar/Vocals; David Crickmore – Acoustic Bass, 5 String Banjo, Shaker ; Mark Boyce –Drums; Gus Taylor – Accordion Backing vocals: Steve Tilston, Mark Boyce, Gus Taylor, Lee Walsh, Emma Crickmore, David Crickmore.
Passed a wheat field with two scarecrows in it. On the head of each one was perched a crow … seemed to speak volumes. Not quite sure what, but I ponder it often.
06.) Memory Lane    8:30
Steve Tilston – Guitar/Vocals; Gus Taylor – Djembe, Shaker; Mark Boyce – Bell Tree; The Richard Curran Strings
Lately, by accident more than design, I’ve found myself near places I used to live and loiter in and have been compelled to go and visit them, almost as if to stake some spurious historic claim. Some have been obliterated by progress, some changed beyond recognition and, quite a number, hardly changed at all, but always the floodgates open and the memories come rushing back. Also, lately, old friends from school and childhood have made contact and inevitably the conversation leads to those who are no longer with us. There are one or two ghosts down on Memory Lane.
07.) Sovereign Of Tides    4:52
Steve Tilston – Guitar/Vocals; Gus Taylor – Accordion, Djembe; David Crickmore – Tambour; Hugh Bradley – Tampara
A song with an eastern flavour, in praise of the moon, particularly when full and reflected in the waves.
08.) Doubting Thomas    4:34
Steve Tilston – Guitar/Vocals
Thomas really is my middle name and as the song suggests I have no answers to the great big question and feel that I cannot connect with anything approaching blind faith. You could say I’m a sceptical agnostic with atheistic tendencies, but given to occasional flights of spiritual fancy. As someone once said, ‘It’s not that I don’t believe in the possibility of a God, it’s just that there’s insufficient evidence!’
09.) Davy Lamp/Fruit Fly    4:38
Steve Tilston – Guitar
Two tunes written in traditional style, the first being a hornpipe after the playing of that great 19th century fiddler James Hill. This piece is dedicated to The Davy Lamp club in Washington Tyne & Wear. The second tune is a reel, dedicated to good cider.
10.) Rio De La Miel    4:55
Steve Tilston – Guitar/Vocals; Gus Taylor – Djembe, Shaker; The Richard Curran – Strings
A wonderful holiday in a villa perched on a cliff edge in Andalucia. The Rio de La Miel runs beside it into the Mediterranean. A short distance over the small ‘river of honey’ is an imposing old building that was once a paper mill and according to the woman who owns the villa, a place of internment and torture during the civil war. Her grandfather was a local guerilla leader known as ‘El Duende,’ and he was the thorn in the side of the fascist Captain whose troops occupied the paper mill. Apparently El Capitan was a fastidious man, both in his methods of torture and dietary habits, only ever consuming half the plate of food that the women of the nearby village prepared for him. The remainder of each his meals is then spirited away by the women, ostensibly to feed the herd of semi-feral pigs that rooted and snorted barely a stone’s throw away. Hiding in a cave behind these pigs was El Duende and it was he that had the benefit of the left overs, not the pigs. El Capitan was oblivious to the fact that he was feeding the very one he searched high and low for…he never did find El Duende.
11.) Weeping Willow Replanted    4:02
Steve Tilston – Guitar/Vocals
This is a substantial rewrite of an old Blind Boy Fuller blues. I’ve changed the words and the tune, but the bare bones of the guitar part are the same. The latter I learnt originally from Wizz Jones.
12.) Ijna (Davy Ji)    4:51
Steve Tilston – Guitar
This guitar instrumental, and playing out piece, pays homage to the late great Davy Graham. It intentionally has touches of his most famous composition Anji all over it. The main theme has an ascending bass line out of a minor chord, the reverse of the descending bass line of the original; hence the name Ijna, which apparently is the name of a Hindu spirit…could be fate, could be coincidence. Maybe Davy knows?
Trembling Bells: The Constant Pageant – review
In the Pennine hills in Yorkshire there lives a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has never achieved the public attention he deserves, but has always been praised by fellow musicians. Steve Tilston writes thoughtful, highly personal songs and is one of the finest instrumentalists on the folk scene, with a style that echoes the elaborate, rhythmic “folk baroque” guitar work of Bert Jansch and Davy Graham. He writes about anything that takes his interest, and the songs here range from unashamedly lyrical pieces about the countryside to others concerned with memory, nuclear waste, or a cheering story from the Spanish civil war, given a flamenco edge. There’s even a thoughtful meditation on the existence of God, Doubting Thomas, given a slinky, bluesy backing, and an update of the traditional Nottamun Town, now treated as a contemporary political nightmare. There’s occasional backing from accordion, harmonica and even a string section, but the album is dominated by Tilston’s exquisite guitar work, and features two spirited solo instrumental tracks, including a suitably virtuosic tribute to Graham. — The Guardian 4/5
Robin Denselow
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 17 March 2011 22.15 GMT
‘His work simply gets better as time goes on’   Mojo
‘A great narrator on top form’   The Observer
"It’s Spring and the air is full of birdsong, natural voices from across the globe, sounding exotic and yet totally belonging. It’s an apt aural image for this album.
We travel from Pennine hills to Spain’s El Chorro Pass, to the Indian Ganges’ side, and to Nottamun Town precisely re-imagined as London in Spring 2011.
That song, a piece of precise social satire, is a reckoning. Other songs sum up Steve’s individual view of the power of nature, the presence of the past or the potential of the future. The only guitar you hear throughout is Steve’s, played live without overdubs – next time we meet I really must count his fingers!
Two instrumentals demonstrate why Steve’s playing is held in such high regard: one is a set of dance tunes, while the curiously entitled Ijna, an evocation of the aureate spirit of creativity and a tribute to the guitarist without whom…etc: a Golden Graham, indeed.
At the heart of the album is the epic Memory Lane: even more than the album’s title track, this is the song that addresses the Reckoning, a past tense encountered not with sentimental nostalgia but with a startled recognition. Incisive and insightful, detailed and wide-ranging, from its tender aubade of optimism to its concluding nocturne for a lost hero, this is quintessential Tilston."
Nigel Schofield
Solo albums:
- An Acoustic Confusion (1971) (1997 reissue)
- Collection (1972)
- Songs From the Dress Rehearsal (1977) (2005 reissue)
- In for a Penny, In for a Pound (1982)
- Life by Misadventure (1987)
- Music of O'Carolan (1988)
- Swans at Coole (1990)
- And So It Goes (1995)
- The Greening Wind 1972 - 1992 (Compilation 1999)
- Solorubato (1999)
- Live Hemistry (2001)
- Such and Such (2003)
- Of Many Hands (2005)
- Reaching Back (5 CD Compilation) (2007)
- Ziggurat (2008)
- The Reckoning (2011)
With Maggie Boyle:
- Silently the Snow Falls (1988)
- Of Moor and Mesa (1992)
- All Under the Sun (1996)
As member of WAZ:
- Fully Chromatic (1999)

Ask anyone on the English folk scene who is their favourite guitarist, singer, songwriter and entertainer and nine times out of ten the same name will crop up in the top three of ever department. Steve Tilston is one of our most celebrated song-smiths; widely recognised within the world of folk and contemporary music: the words, arrangements and subtle but quite superb guitar playing could be no one else and 2010 is his 40th anniversary year!
The writer of the classic songs The Slipjigs and Reels, The Naked Highwayman and Here’s to Tom Paine, has a new album out now! On Ziggurat hear Tilston deftly weave his mastery on a dozen new insightful songs of love, loss, war and gold, plus a couple of traditional gems.
In 2007 he was given the Free Reed Records boxed-set treatment! The company behind the Richard Thompson anthology released Reaching Back: the Life and Music of Steve Tilston. Featuring classic, rare, previously unreleased and new recordings, Reaching Back is a timely celebration of one of this country’s finest performers. Compiled with unprecedented access to Steve’s own archives, the deluxe boxed-set comprises five full-length themed CDs featuring tracks contributed by Steve’s many fellow musicians and admirers as well as Steve himself, finished off with a beautiful full-colour book.
Born in Liverpool and raised in the Midlands, Steve made his recording debut in the early seventies with the classic An Acoustic Confusion and has been turning out quality albums ever since. Life by Misadventure, And So It Goes, Solo Rubato and Such and Such all featuring first-class song-writing, quintessentially English in style and typically Tilston, marking him out as one of this country’s finest writers. Whilst the instrumental Swans at Coole is testament to his guitar virtuosity. Though known as a songwriter, Steve has always had an ear for the tradition and included new interpretations of old favourites on his original recordings. Of Many Hands is his first “all-traditional” album paying homage to his roots, with unique arrangements of timeless classics. He’s also released a “best of” anthology, The Greening Wind and a live album Live Hemistry recorded on tour with Fairport Convention.
He joined an illustrious band of guitarists including Martin Simpson, Michael Messer and Wizz Jones, when he was invited to contribute to the Guitar Maestro series of DVDs; a combination of live studio performance and interviews, revealing the real passion behind these talented musicians…If anyone ever deserved the moniker Guitar Maestro, it’s Steve Tilston!
Steve has toured with John Renbourn’s Ship of Fools, in a stunning musical partnership with traditional singer Maggie Boyle; making the classic recordings Of Moor and Mesa and All Under the Sun, as guitarist with Ballet Rambert with Maartin Allcock and Pete Zorn in WAZ! and with Brooks Williams in A Transatlantic Song-Swap. His most recent collaboration, with daughter Martha Tilston, is the charming “like father, like daughter…” show.
A celebrated artist in Britain and abroad, winning accolades in Europe, Australia and the USA, his songs have been recorded by Fairport Convention, Dolores Keane, The House Band, Peter Bellamy, North Cregg, Bob Fox and John Wright. Here’s to Tom Paine is the adopted theme song for the Tom Paine Society of America and it’s been rumoured, has featured in Bruce Springsteen’s live shows. His music has also featured on radio and TV.
Steve is probably best loved as a solo performer, but he also works with accordionist Chris Parkinson and bassist Dave Bowie and occasionally his daughter Martha.
Original page: http://www.robinwatson.com/mff/Artistes/steve_tilston.html

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