Steve Tilston

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Steve Tilston
Background information
Born (1950-03-26) 26 March 1950 (age 65)
Origin England
Genres Folk
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Guitar, arpeggione
Years active 1971-present
Labels Hubris Records

Steve Tilston (born 26 March 1950)[1] is an English folk singer-songwriter and guitarist.

Early life[edit]

Steve Tilston was born in Liverpool and raised in Leicestershire. Tilston was a graphic designer before taking up music in 1971, living in Bristol at the time, where he recorded his first album An Acoustic Confusion. In the early 1980s, he ran a folk club with Bert Jansch in New Kings Road, London. 1982's In For A Penny - In For A Pound was a rock album, but he soon reverted to quieter music. In 1985 he toured with Ballet Rambert, playing in the on-stage band for 'Sergeant Early's Dream' (and again when the ballet toured England in 2000-2001) as a guitarist and Mandolin player. In 1987 he formed his own record label, called Run River. He was a member of John Renbourn's group Ship of Fools (1988), who released one eponymous album on his label. In 1990 he was a session musician on Peter Bellamy's album Soldiers Three. By the 1990s he performed frequently with Maggie Boyle, his on-and-offstage partner at that time. His 1992 album Of Moor and Mesa got positive reviews in the United States. This contained his compositions "The Slip Jigs and Reels" and "Naked Highwayman", which were later recorded by Fairport Convention. In 1995 he formed Hubris Records. By 1999, he had separated from Maggie Boyle.


As solo artist[edit]

He then joined WAZ! with Pete Zorn and Maartin Allcock. In 2003, there was a slight change of direction as he moved towards melodic jazz with Such And Such, an album with saxophonist Andy Sheppard. Live Hemistry was not a misspelling for "Chemistry" but a live album with many of his best songs, so named because the live recordings are taken from the UK and Australia, thus from two hemispheres. The Thomas Paine Society selected his song "Here's to Tom Paine" as their theme song.[2] His song "Night Owl" was not only recorded by Dolores Keane, but was the title of her 1998 album. His songs have been recorded by Fairport Convention, Dolores Keane, The House Band, Peter Bellamy, North Cregg, Bob Fox, John Wright and others. His instrumental style crosses classical music with Irish and English folk. He also plays an early 19th-century instrument called an arpeggione (bowed guitar). His daughter Martha Tilston is also a professional singer, and son Joe Tilston plays bass and sings for ska-punk band Random Hand. He has been a tutor at summer camps. In 2007, Reaching Back was released. This was a boxed set of five CDs of his songs, with rarities and contributions from Wizz Jones, Ralph McTell and Coope, Boyes and Simpson. 2008 saw the release of another solo album, Ziggurat. He performed a 40th anniversary concert in Bristol on 23 September 2010 with guests Wizz Jones, Keith Warmington, Brooks Williams, Chris Parkinson, Maggie Boyle, Hugh Bradley, and his children Martha, Joe and Molly.

Steve Tilston & The Durbervilles[edit]

In 2010, Tilston also began working with Yorkshire based band The Durbervilles, with a selection of low key live dates followed by work in the studio. The first fruits of the collaboration was a track on a Bob Dylan 70th birthday tribute album put out by UK label, Fat Cat Records.[3] Since then Steve Tilston & The Durbervilles as a touring unit have appeared at various venues in the UK including Cropredy Festival 2011.[4] In March 2012, Steve Tilston & the Durbervilles released The Oxenhope EP.[5]

TV work and Folk Award[edit]

In 2011, Tilston released his solo album, The Reckoning, on his own Hubris label.[6] In October 2011, he performed "Oil & Water" from the album on Later... with Jools Holland. He was subsequently interviewed by Jools Holland "at the piano" and the pair paid homage to the late Bert Jansch who died earlier in the month. In February 2012 the title track from The Reckoning was awarded Best Original Song at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.[7] The award was shared with Bella Hardy, who polled exactly the same number of votes.[8]

Personal life[edit]

His daughter Martha also maintains a folk music career as a solo artist while his son Joe Tilston is in the ska-punk band, Random Hand.[citation needed]

In August 2010, it was reported that John Lennon had penned a letter of support to Tilston in 1971, though it was never delivered. Lennon had been inspired to write to the then 21 year-old folk singer after having read an interview in ZigZag magazine in which Tilston admitted he feared wealth and fame might negatively affect his songwriting. Tilston did not become aware of the letter’s existence until a collector contacted him in 2005 to verify its authenticity. “Being rich doesn't change your experience in the way you think,” Lennon wrote. It was signed "Love John and Yoko."[9] This letter was the inspiration behind the 2015 film Danny Collins.


Solo albums[edit]

  • 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 John Renbourn's Ship Of Fools[edit]

  • John Renbourn's Ship Of Fools (1988)

With Maggie Boyle[edit]

  • Silently the Snow Falls (1988)
  • Of Moor and Mesa (1992)
  • All Under the Sun (1996)

As member of WAZ![edit]

  • Fully Chromatic (1999)

With The Durbervilles[edit]

  • The Oxenhope EP (2012)

With the Steve Tilston Trio[edit]

  • happenstance (2013)


  • Sound Techniques - Guitar Maestros #5 (2006)


  • The Steve Tilston Music Book - A collection of songs and tunes in notation and tablature.


  1. ^ Schofield, Nigel (2007). Reaching Back: The Life and Music of Steve Tilston [book accompanying CD boxed set]. Belper, Derbyshire, United Kingdom: Free Reed Records & Music Ltd. ISBN 978-0-9553568-1-0. 
  2. ^ "Get Ready to ROCK! Interview with folk singer songwriter Steve Tilston about the album 'Such And Such' and his interests and influences". Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  3. ^ "Younger Than That Now- Home". Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  4. ^ "Fairport Convention's official website". Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  5. ^ "Folk Live and CD Reviews". Folk and Roots. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  6. ^ Robin Denselow (21 July 2011). "Steve Tilston: The Reckoning – review | Music". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  7. ^ "Radio 2 - Events - Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012". BBC. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  8. ^ "Hebden Bridge Web News 2012: Steve Tilston wins at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards". 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  9. ^ Roberts, Laura (16 August 2010). "John Lennon letter to aspiring folk singer received nearly four decades later". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 

External links[edit]