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, quite superb guitar playing could be no one else.

“The more you listen, the more there is to discover.” Bob Harris

The story of Steve’s “lost” letter from John Lennon thrust Steve into the worldwide media spotlight and was the inspiration for a Hollywood movie. Danny Collins, starring Al Pacino in the title role is now available to own on DVD. Sadly, Steve’s songs didn’t actually appear on the soundtrack, but the publicity surrounding the film, brought Steve and his music to much wider attention. You can still watch the clip of when Steve met Al on YouTube.

Steve was also voted, Fatea Awards Male Vocalist of the Year 2015 and Truth to Tell was chosen as one of The Telegraph’s top folk albums that year too.

2021 saw the release of Such Times and the continuation of the connection with Riverboat Records begun with Distant Days; Steve’s solo acoustic retrospective, from 2018. In Such Times Steve takes on the role of social commentator and storyteller; 15-tracks almost exclusively new material, recorded during the first national lockdown. The release coincided with the 50th anniversary of his debut album, An Acoustic Confusion in 1971. After more than fifty years in the business Steve can still deliver the goods.

In 2007 a 5-CD boxed-set was released Reaching Back the Life and Music of Steve Tilston by Free Reed, the company behind the Richard Thompson anthology. Back on song-writing form, he released Ziggurat in 2008 from which A Pretty Penny made it into Acoustic Magazine’s top 50 songs. In 2009 his early career was hi-lighted in a book Bristol Folk, the story of Bristol’s powerhouse folk & blues scene in the 60s & 70s. And the Bristol connection is marked once again in 2018 when Steve features in a major exhibition Bristol Music: Seven Decades of Sound at M Shed Museum in Bristol. His 2011 release The Reckoning garnered 4-star reviews in the Guardian, the Observer and the Scotsman, a guest appearance on Later with Jools Holland and the BBC Four Songwriters’ Circle series, plus a Folk Award win for best original song. Followed in 2013 by the highly acclaimed trio album Happenstance. Steve was also commissioned to write for the Olympics Radio Ballads series and theHarbour of Songs project.

Born in Liverpool and raised in the Midlands, Steve made his recording debut in 1971 with the classic An Acoustic Confusion and has been turning out quality albums ever since. Life by MisadventureAnd So It GoesSolo Rubato and Such and Such all featuring first-class song-writing and stylistically 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; with unique arrangements of timeless classics. There’s also 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!

The writer of such classic songs as The Slipjigs and Reels and the award-winning The Reckoning, is also a published author. Steve’s first novel All for Poor Jack is an historical tale set in Bristol and the New World, full of colourful characters. It’s a mighty good read and has been enjoyed by the likes of Bob Dylan no less!

He’s toured with John Renbourn’s Ship of Fools, traditional singer Maggie Boyle (the classic recordings Of Moor and Mesa and All Under the Sun), as guitarist with Ballet Rambert, with Maartin Allcock & Pete Zorn in WAZ! with Brooks Williams and with his daughter Martha. Plus collaborations with alt-country band The Durbervilles and old Bristol pals Keith Warmington and the late Stuart Gordon as the Steve Tilston Trio. His most recent project is Tilston & Lowe a duo with fellow songwriter Jez Lowe, producing The Janus Game a CD of brand-new co-writes.

Others have also recorded Steve’s songs. Here’s to Tom Paine is the adopted theme song for the Tom Paine Society of America and we’ve lost count of the number of versions of The Slipjigs & Reels!

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