Tiller's Folly
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Tiller's Folly

Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE

Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE
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Tiller's Folly @ Tulalip Casino

Tulalip, Washington, USA

Tulalip, Washington, USA

Tiller's Folly @ Tulalip Casino

Tulalip, Washington, USA

Tulalip, Washington, USA

Tiller's Folly @ Eastern Oregon University

La Grande, Oregon, USA

La Grande, Oregon, USA



It wasn’t too many years ago that the concept of a “band” began to change from simplistic to more complicated definitions. In fact, at the turn of the last century, many individuals would have considered the act of two people playing together (most commonly fiddle and banjo) as a band performance. However, our present definition of a “band” is much different.

For at least one group though, an older definition seems to apply. Currently the three-piece, Pacific Northwest based group Tiller’s Folly are releasing their latest project entitled Go the Road.
With a set of back to back album release shows scheduled for March 29th and 30th in White Rock, British Columbia, the Tiller’s Folly gang is proud to announce the release of their 8th project in some 16 years of performing together as a group. According to band member Bruce Coughlan these shows will be filmed for promotional purposes and released on DVD shortly afterward.
Previously, the band had performed music based on their Celtic influences. In fact, their website describes their sound by calling them “Celtic influenced Canadian Americana Newgrass,” but with Go the Road, the band seems to be headed in a different direction. Coughlan says the band is excited to embark upon a new musical journey, which sounds closer to mainstream Newgrass music.

While the principle members of Tiller’s Folly are singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bruce Coughlan, Nolan Murray (multi-instrumentalist), and Laurence Knight (bass, vocals, and producer) they are often joined by other musicians to fill out their sets on stage. For instance, on this album they are joined by a host of wonderful musicians. Coughlan stated that a portion of their album guests will also be accompanying them at upcoming concerts. Guest artists on Go the Road include John Cowan, Ronnie McCoury, Josh Shilling, Sam Bush, Cia Cherryholmes, Scott Vestal, and Randy Kohrs.

The band recently returned to the west coast from a short tour of the southeast, including stops in Nashville for Music City Roots, Memphis for the Folk Alliance Conference, and Valle Crucis, NC at the Mast Farm Inn. In the upcoming weeks, they will be playing across the northwest, with shows taking place in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. This summer, they’ll embark on a tour of the United Kingdom, visiting several festivals of traditional and Celtic music.

Go the Road is available as of March 1, and can be purchased from iTunes, CDBaby or the Tiller’s Folly website. For more information on the new album, the band, or their upcoming tour dates, visitwww.tillersfolly.com.
- Bluegrass Today - March 13, 2012

Home Base: Greater Vancouver BC
Genre: Acoustic Roots
Categories Entered: Best Song
Work Submitted: Death & Taxes
Artists Featured: Tiller’s Folly with guest vocalists John Cowan (Doobie Brothers) and Josh Shilling (Mountain Heart)
Label: Raincoast
Who are your influences? Mostly acoustic roots music(Celtic, Bluegrass, Folk, etc) musicians and writers from the 1930s up to present day. Innovators mostly that are progressive in their outlook. Examples: Beatles, James Taylor, New Grass Revival, Clancy Brothers, Union Station, R & B on Atlantic, Motown …
Describe your nominated work. “Death & Taxes” was inspired by a Bernard Cornwall book Gallows Thief and describes 3 men being sent to the gallows hence the 3 lead vocalists. Along their journey, everyone they meet has their hands out showing nothing is free, even a trip to the gallows.
Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording? Apart from the fact that the guitar in tuned to DADGAD which is a little unusual with bluegrass type instrumentation the entire CD that it comes from (Go The Road) was captured entirely on acoustic instruments. Nothing programmed or over processed. Many of the microphones, pre-amps and some of the processors used are vintage recording equipment, which adds to the earthy quality of the track.
Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned? This track came together pretty well but for a while something was missing. It was Brian Smith, our manager who reminded us how stoked Randy Kohrs was about the song. Once Randy’s part was down the song seemed to ride a bit better. Then, while mastering, our producer Joby Baker made some last minute changes (subtle yet effective) and suddenly, the song just “popped.”
How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses? We were blessed to be awarded some Factor (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent On Record) funding for this project. The balance of the funding came from Tiller’s Folly. Our hope is to recoup the funding through strong sales at both CDBaby, our website and also at our CD release concerts.
Why did you choose to submit this work to The 11th IMAs? It is a strong tune and was the first song mixed and finished off the ‘Go The Road’ CD; so first finished first to submit. We are proud of it and felt that you would feel the same way.
What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Success is having the freedom to write and perform the music that moves us, being blessed to enjoy enough work, to book tours both domestically and abroad and mailbox money (publishing, songwriting and downloads) to allow us to continue making and sharing great music.
How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals? This nomination is a significant honor that both confirms and fuels our continued creativity and with our strong publicity campaign can help continue to raise the awareness of Tiller’s Folly both nationally and internationally.
Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique? Tiller’s Folly fans are people of all ages and broad musical tastes who appreciate a high level of musicality with excellent songwriting and stories mixed with a good dose of fun.
What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour? A nice pleasure on the road is having time to actually relax at a festival or show without rushing off to the next concert and having an afterhours session with friends new and old and other musicians and enjoying a nice single malt with a nice microbrew or a good red. I am sure we have all missed planes and driven many times through terrible snow blizzards.
Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why? Paradise by John Prine. Simplicity + Eloquence = Perfection
What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans? We come from the Duke Ellington school, Duke said “there are only 2 types of music good and bad” and we like all good music name your genre. Of course we have preferences but we all listen and enjoy a very diverse mixture of artists both new and old across many idioms. What we like is usually what we are listening to in the moment, we all have vast libraries of CD’s, downloads cassettes and LP’s
How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming? We discover new music usually by recommendations from other players, friends and fans. We also are given music at festivals. There is a lot of swapping among artists. We also buy a lot of CD’s like when fav artists put out new projects. If you love music you really need to buy a few cd’s or downloads every once in a while to support the artists. This is of high importance!
How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free? That is a problem. All artists need some financial support from their fan base in the purchase of tunes and downloads. I think if people love the music and share it with their friends and go out to see the shows this can help mediate this problem. Most musicians make money either through sales or performance so we need support in both these areas.
What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today? I think the problems in the music business have been highly documented in the press and I think most of the issues are available for public consumption. Basically if you don’t buy the music and don’t go to any shows the grass roots music business can t survive.
Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future? In this day of downloads and iTunes how many people listen to a whole CD any more. Also how many CD’s are full of great songs with no filler: this is an interesting question. It used to be that the single was king maybe we are getting back to those days.
Finish this sentence: The music industry is… Hard work, very challenging and never ending it is a real challenge to rise above the multitude, separate the wheat from the chaff as they say. That said there is so much wheat or great music musicians and songwriters that the competition is fierce for public awareness.
The other side of that, performing, producing new projects, writing new songs, seeing new places and meeting old and new friends both musicians and music lovers are true pleasures and part of the many reasons we do this.
What do you have in the works for the upcoming year? ‘Go The Road’ has just been released and features as well as “Death & Taxes” ten other great tunes featuring an amazing group of guest artists from Nashville to Edinborough to LA. This CD is Tiller’s Folly’s 8th album and is new benchmark for Tiller’s in sound, production and songwriting. This is first complete project we have done with Victoria producer Joby Baker an amazing talent. It will allow us to be played and shown across a broad array of “formats”, thereby growing public awareness of Tiller`s and increasing our fan base. Find out more at www.tillersfolly.com
Tiller`s Folly have several songs in the can and are working on a DVD of 2 concerts filmed before a live audience over two incredible nights t a great sound stage recording studio Blue Frog Studios in White Rock BC. www.bluefrogstudios.ca
Videos from this concert with special guest artist and friend Doug Johnson (keyboardist Loverboy) will be released over the balance of 2012 to promote ‘Go The Road’. The first video should be released in May 2012. The whole package will be released as a special combo CD DVD package with very special guests late this year or early 2013. The concert footage, shot in HD with 7 cameras by the award- winning videographer Gene Greenwood and famed recording engineer Ron Cote, will be spectacular.
We are continuing to tour and have dates booked throughout the Pacific NW, the Midwest and South as well as another excursion over to the UK this year to play the prestigious Speyfest.
Where can fans find you and your music: www.tillersfolly.com www.facebook.com/tillersfolly
- Independent Music Awards

The recorded history of the Salish Sea is filled with stories of heroes and scoundrels, triumphs and tragedies. Bruce Coughlan turns these human dramas into songs deeply rooted in the history of the Pacific Northwest. Coughlan is the singer and songwriter for the Canadian folk band “Tiller’s Folly.”
This week KPLU environment reporter Liam Moriarty sits on a Vancouver beach with Coughlan and explores that history, and the music it inspires.

Liam Moriarty: Tell us about where we’re sitting right now.
Bruce Coughlan: Well, we’re sitting on Jericho Beach, looking out over English Bay. Just around the corner there to the west, is Spanish Banks. Directly ahead of us is the bay where the Spanish and English explorers first met back in 1792.
Basically, here they were trying to claim this land for their respective countries. So the fact that they met on friendly terms and not aggressive terms was pretty interesting to start with.
Bruce: The Spanish were giving places all the Spanish names – you know, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Galiano and Gabriola Islands – the English were doing the same – English Bay, Howe Sound, Mt. Baker – all these points of land throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Liam: You mention in the song, Spanish Banks, you have a line, “Names that leap from my atlas pages were present on that day.” I thought that was an interesting observation. When you look at a map, you see all these names, and they were there.
Bruce: They were there. A lot of the people were aboard. Quadra Island was named after Quadra – he was the captain.
Liam: One of the historical based songs that you guys do that I got a big kick out of was Steamboating Jamiesons, which is basically about five brothers named Jamieson who were renowned steamboat pilots throughout the Northwest, and each of them met an untimely end.

Liam: Were they actual characters or were they just sort of guys you’re having fun with?
Bruce: Absolutely true.
Liam: Really!
Bruce: Absolutely true story. As a matter of fact, when we toured Scotland six years ago, we visited their home; a place called Broddick. And we discovered that there had been a sixth brother who had had the good sense to stay at home. The night we played at the Alpine Hotel in Broddick, Scotland, we had three generations of non-steamboating Jamiesons in attendance.
Liam: Really… (chuckles)
Singing folk music or folk-inspired music about people long dead and livelihoods that no longer exist; it seems to be an invitation for modern people to put themselves in another human’s shoes 100, 150, 200 years ago and kind of walk around in those shoes for a while. Is that a part of what goes on with you?

Bruce: That’s the intrigue for me, is to be able to see things with one extra dimension; with that dimension of time I can look out at this bay and imagine it without the big tankers. I can imagine it without all the high-rises on the far shore.
Can you imagine what it was like? The creaking of the sails and the rigging, coming around the corner and spying another expeditionary force from a rival country. The hearts would have been thumping at that time. People would have been crying out commands. They were going to come alongside and figure out what was what.
That moment in history defined who we are today as Pacific dwellers.
Liam: Well, Bruce; thank you for inviting me out on this walk today.
Bruce: Thanks, Liam. It’s been a lovely day. It didn’t rain.
Liam: That’s always a good day when it doesn’t rain in the Pacific Northwest.
Thanks a lot.
Bruce: Cheers; take care.
- Salish Reflections - Liam Moriarty interviews Bruce Coughlan

Peninsula-based band Tiller's Folly, seen here at the Historic Stewart Farm House, are heading to
Nashville, Tenn. for a showcase tour next week. Contributed photo
By Alex Browne - Peace Arch News
Published: June 16, 2011 3:00 PM
Updated: June 16, 2011 3:10 PM
The passport is the human voice – plus a fiddle, a mandolin, a guitar and a bass.
In the ever-evolving world of the music industry, and the ongoing struggle to survive the lingering effects of
recession – not to mention getting lost in what bassist Laurence Knight of Tiller’s Folly calls “the I-Pod Shuffle” –
North America’s most seasoned musicians are breaking down borders both literally and figuratively.
Forget long-established labels, or the gimmick-du-jour of Top 40 production. Many are finding the best calling card
is a song of enduring value and a time-honoured instrumentation that, while borrowing from many acoustic
traditions and genre identifications (including folk, country, bluegrass, new grass, and Celtic) is capable
of transcending all of them.
Latest group in this ongoing, intuitive evolution is Tiller’s Folly itself, which heads across the border next week to
launch a media and showcase tour of Nashville, Tenn. and beyond.
The Surrey and White Rock-based group, which has paid 13 years of dues in thousands of performances both across
Canada and abroad – and seven well-regarded albums – has just been signed to Georgia-based management
company Leadership Artists.
That puts them in the same stable as acoustic super group Mountain Heart and legendary vocalist/bassist John
Cowan, under the watchful eye of Leadership’s president, powerhouse promoter Brian Smith.
And the effect can be seen in the band’s upcoming blitz of the musical capital, which will include appearances on
two live showcases, the legendary Billy Block Show and Music City Roots, as well as additional television and
radio appearances, a private function for music industry leaders, and a full concert at The Rooster’s Wife
in Aberdeen, N.C.
“It’s very exciting,” Knight said.
“This trip is the big one. We’re like the girl being introduced at the ball to all of the suitors – it’s a whole new
The timing of the trip coincides with the latter stages of recording the group’s latest album Go The Road, in which
Knight, Bruce Coughlan (principal writer, artistic leader, lead vocalist and guitarist) and Nolan Murray (vocalist,
fiddler, mandolinist) will be joined by such top guest talents as Cowan, Josh Shilling (Mountain Heart), vocalist Cia
Cherryholme, Scottish Music Hall of Fame accordionist Phil Cunningham, guitarist Jeff Autry and banjo great Scott
The new album, recorded with the band’s favourite producer, Joby Baker of Baker Studios in Victoria, also finds
Tiller’s Folly at the top of its game, Knight said.
“This record is a culmination. Bruce has written 12 new songs and he’s at the peak of his career as a songwriter,
emotionally, melodically and lyrically – these are just timeless, classic songs.
“This is really going to open the door for Bruce as a songwriter – already there’s a lineup of major songwriters who
want to work with him
“And Nolan is just such an adept musician on so many instruments.”
Knight, too, acknowledges that the album has stretched his abilities, shifting from electric to acoustic bass.
“I play the whole thing on upright bass, which is the first time I’ve done that,” he said.
The group is taking additional heart from the backing of Smith and Leadership Artists, Knight confirmed.
“It’s so nice to have somebody on board helping to promote our cause who has all these connections.” he said.
“Brian’s been involved in music at the very highest level for many years. He came out of retail as a vice president of
a chain of music stores which gave him a very strong understanding of the industry.
“He could see the end of the road for the music stores, but he knew the one thing that would never end was the
music itself, even if the ways of selling it would change.”
The way that the Leadership connection came about was logical and organic, according to Knight – driven as it was
by Cowan.
Much of Cowan’s fame rests on his years as a core member of seminal band New Grass Revival, which pioneered a
fusion of bluegrass with rock and R&B harmonies in the 1970s and ’80s.
“We’ve always been huge fans of his playing and he came up and helped us on River So Wide and Nolan’s solo
album,” Knight said.
While Cowan had his own band and had just signed with Leadership, he was unable to turn down an offer to tour
with The Doobie Brothers, with whom he’d played before – which left an opening in Leadership’s talent roster,
Knight said.
“John is a big fan of the band and Bruce’s singing and songwriting and he kept on pushing Brian, saying ‘you should
take a look at these guys’.
Discussion went on for about a year, but the deal was finally clinched when the band flew Smith to one of their
concerts in Oregon, Knight said.
While Knight admits the historic thread of Celtic Canadiana that Tiller’s Folly has been known for has been, to some
extent, subsumed by the emotional direction of River So Wide and Go The Road, Knight said it is always going to
be part of the group’s identity and repertoire.
“I think what Brian’s figured is our music would be a refreshing breath of fresh air,” he added. - Black Press

Buchan Bluegrass is the fifth album from this talented local band, and, in spite of the name, it contains little of what most people would think of as bluegrass. Rather, it's a collection of traditional and composed Scottish and Scots-inspired songs and tunes, including a moving tribute by lead signer Bruce Coughlin to Orkney-born Arctic explorer John Rae, who discovered the last navigable link in the northwest passage and the fate of the doomed Franklin expedition. The music grew from the band's travels in Scotland and marries bluegrass elements with Celtic ones.

Too many bands playing Celtic music (and North American fiddle tunes) approach the tunes as race cars to be driven faster and more frantically around the track. Tiller's Folly plays them at a lively but respectful tempo, retaining the subtlety of the tunes. (An especially beautiful instrumental is Auchenhalrig, also composed by Coughlin.)

Coughlan's excellent singing and the equally effective playing from Laurence Knight (electric bass, vocals), Nolan Murray (mandolin, fiddle, viola and five-string banjo) and Eric Reed (guitar, mandolin, accordion, and vocals) bring the stories alive. - Linda Bates - The Vancouver Sun

Tiller's Folly's chief songwriter, Bruce Coughlan, is so prolific these days the band could probably crank out a new album every six months, according to their bassist and manager, Laurence Knight.

Plus, with their award-winning fiddler and mandolinist, the amazingly nimble Nolan Murray, coming up with so many of those nifty tunes of his, the tap never seems to stop flowing.

That said, Tiller's Folly's new Buchan Bluegrass album was inspired by a tour the group mounted through Scotland a full 18 months back. For a Celtic band with a love for history, nothing could have got the juices flowing better. And a wee dram or two of the single-malt scotch, I'm assured, flowed as well.

So what kind of response could this crew of Canadians – the band also includes guitarist Eric Reed – expect in the land where their style of music was actually invented? Amazing, says Knight. People were so enthusiastic; there were some nights they felt like rock stars.

Of course, there's a strong historical link between Scotland and Canada.

As writer Peter C. Newman outlines in his Caesars of the Wilderness, much of the early European contact with this country was as a result of the beaver-fur trade. This was one big company town and 80 per cent of that Hudson's Bay Company was populated by Scotsman.

"This place where we played in Orkney," says Knight, "is the home of Logan's Well, which was the last provision stop for every ship from the mid-1600s to the late-1800s. There's just so much of our pioneer history there. And the Earl of Orkney lives in Winnipeg; he's a university professor there. Orkney fiddlers go to Winnipeg and they draw 2,000 people because there are so many people of Orkney descent there."

Like Newman, Tiller's Folly has an uncanny ability to bring musty history to life. "The Ballad of John Rae" is about the Scottish explorer who found the last link in the Northwest Passage while "MacPherson's Rant" deals with the fabulous story of the fiddle-playing outlaw James MacPherson.

I want to go to Scotland.

- John P. McLaughlin - The Province

Tiller's Folly has just released their latest CD entitled Buchan Bluegrass and it's brilliant! This is their best CD to date. These local musicians have just returned from Scotland where they were lavished with rave reviews. But the highlight of their tour was participating in the Speyfest Pan Celtic Music Festival in Fochabers, Moray, Scotland.

They were so enthralled by the sights and sounds of the festival that Bruce Coughlan, the principal songwriter for Tiller's Folly, and his friend Jim Smith penned a song called Ceilidh by the Spey. This lively tune describes the music and energy of the festival and it has become the official song of Speyfest. As a result Tiller's Folly were treated like honorary citizens in Fochabers, Scotland.

Tiller's Folly are true folk bards, they tell stories of history, events and people. Group member Laurence Knight said, "when we went to Scotland last year for the first time, it brought home to us how many people we have been writing songs about who are known as great Canadian pioneers, were actually Scotsmen."

Speaking of their Scottish tour, Bruce Coughlan said, "I've always felt a strong affinity for Scottish music. The intensity, the expressiveness and wild beauty flowing throughout its timeless lyrics and melodies have inspired and shaped my musical perspective since before I can remember.

"I wasn't fully aware of the extent of this influence until Tiller's Folly was invited to visit the northeast of Scotland in the summer of 2004. There, surrounded by a collection of the finest Celtic musicians in the world, we watched, listened, jammed, performed and socialized to our heart's content. Naturally, we were anxious to lend our own perspective to this vibrant music."

This "coming together" of influences is essentially the inspiration behind Buchan Bluegrass.

Tiller's Folly are: Bruce Coughlan on vocals, guitar, tenor banjo, whistle and bodhran; Laurence Knight on electric bass and vocals; Nolan Murray on mandolin, fiddle, viola and five-string banjo; and Eric Reed on guitar, mandolin, accordion and vocals.

There are some real gems on Buchan Bluegrass such as Barnyards o' Delgaty; There'll Never Be Peace Until Jamie Comes Hame; The Ballad of John Rae; and MacPherson's Rant to name a few. The liner notes for each track are like a history book.

- Catholine Butler
- Celtic Connection

Review: As one of the tightest, and unflinchingly focused, folk bands in the nation, Tiller’s Folly continues to produce music that is both distinctly
Canadian and firmly rooted in the Celtic tradition. Songwriter and lead
singer Bruce Coughlan has mined the colourful history of the Pacific
Northwest with the help of curators and historians, and successfully turns
yesterday’s adventures and yarns into engaging tunes built around rock-solid arrangements and outstanding instrumental interplay. Binding together the best of a decade’s worth of gems, with Chatham Reach, Last of the Royal
Engineers and Down At Gassy Jack’s having been cut in the last year,
Coughlan, bassist Lawrence Knight and string wizard Nolan Murray vigorously stir the pot with Pogues-like intensity one minute before delivering a sweet ballad the next. With help from friends like ex-Newgrass Revival singer John
Cowan, Steven Drake of Odds fame and famed American session pianist Larry Knechtel (Beach Boys), Stirring Up Ghosts confirms that Tiller’s Folly is a national treasure.

Peter North
- Edmonton Journal

Bassist Laurence Knight . . . played with everyone from Doucet, Shari Ulrich and Roy Forbest to Jim Byrnes, Al Foreman and Long John Baldry. A diverse career by any standard. . . . Knight packed a rucksack and came aboard.

So have a lot of others over the years, some amazing local players, like Mike Sanyshyn, a brilliant fiddler, and great drummers like Shawn Soucy, Geoff Eyre and Phil Robertson. Robbie Steininger is one of the most dazzling, tasteful guitar players I’ve ever heard anywhere. He was in Tiller’s Folly for awhile. It seems to be that kind of band.

Ten years and many albums later, the nub of the band is Knight and Coughlan with champion fiddler Nolan Murray, who joined six years ago. They work hard, these guys, something like 250 dates a year, and bring along drummer Chris (The Wrist) Nordquist when they can. Like in Scotland. They spent three weeks in August over there, part of it playing the prestigious Speyfest up north in Fochabers village by the River Spey, in the shadow of Gordon Castle. It seems they went over well.

“Yeah, it’s getting to be a really big festival and everybody told us we blew ‘em away this year,” says Knight. “They had 1,500 people there both nights screaming and yelling. We wrote them a song called “Ceilidh by the Spey” for our CD in 2005, which is now the theme song for the festival.

Everywhere they go these days Tiller’s Folly is promoting their newest release, the excellent A River So Wide. Their penchant for attracting outstanding talent has never been more pronounced than on this project.

In order to co-produce with Knight, they managed to snag Steven Drake (Spirit of the West, Tragically Hip, Nellie Furtado), and helping Coughlan out with vocals is John Cowan, formerly a member of the influential New Grass Revival, with the likes of Sam Bush and Bela Fleck. Nolan made that connection at the Folk Alliance in Austin, Tex.

But the stunner name on the CD sleeve has to be keyboardist Larry Knechtel, a music legend. He started out in Duane Eddy’s band, the Rebels. He played on all those old Phil Spector hits like “Be My Baby.” That lovely piano track on Simon & Garfunkle’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water?” Larry Knechtel. He played bass on the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man.” He played with the Beach Boys.

“When we were in the studio recording with him,” says Knight, “while we were just taking a break, he played ‘God Only Knows’ on a big grand piano. We just wished we had the tape rolling. We met him through his son, Lonnie, a musician in the Bellingham, Wash., scene and Nolan lives in Blaine now and started meeting people down there. The thing that’s really encouraging is these guys really love our music, everybody is trying to help.” - The Province

BC's own Tiller's Folly have just released their new CD, A River So Wide, in celebration of 10 years of playing music, recording and writing historical songs about BC's history. Tiller's Folly has reached the status of international artists with tours that have taken them to the U.S. and Europe, particulary to Scotland.

When we think of historical songs, we tend to think of old-fashioned and unexciting. When Tiller's Folly write and play these songs, they put a contemporary twist on history.

Last of the Royal Engineers tells of when the colony of BC was established in 1858 and how Her Majesty's Royal Engineers were dispatched to the Pacific Northwest to survey this vast territory.

The song is particularly about Philip Jackman, one of the engineers who remained in BC and lived an amazing 69 years in the province. Tiller's Folly have set this story to some lively toe tapping music.

And true bards, they immortalize in song the beauty of where they were born and raised. Chatham's Reach sings the praised of the natural beauty of BC's Fraser Valley.

British Columbians feel pride in the modern-day Celtic bards who continue to ensure that our history remains alive and vibrant. There are 10 tracks on A River So Wide and each one a gem . . .
- Celtic Connection

Things I Haven't Done ranked 4th song of the 2009 - September 1, 2009

Just Plain Folk Awards (www.jpfolks.com) have just released their winners for 2009. Tiller's Folly was awarded 4th place in the New Folk Song category for "The Things I Haven't Done." which was written by the Tiller's main muse, Bruce Coughlan. The song is on Tiller's Folly's "A River So Wide" CD, produced by Steven Drake & Laurence Knight.

The song features guest vocalist John Cowan, lead vocalist of legendary roots music band Newgrass Revival, along with Los Angeles session guru Larry Knechtel, past member Eric Reed and regular drummer Chris Nordquist.

Just Plain Folks is the largest grassroots music association in the world so this is quite an honour. - Self

Buchan Bluegrass, by the Vancouver, British Columbia, band Tiller's Folly, is the band's fifth album. For this recording, the quartet has chosen to focus on the music of Scotland and its relationship to the North American bluegrass tradition.

The roots run deep, and this album of 10 traditional and contemporary songs certainly proves to any doubters out there that Scotland has much more to offer than haggis, bagpipes and the game of golf. The album showcases Scotland's fine tradition of music, which has been passed down through the ages and has evolved along the way. And lead singer Bruce Coughlin is a true bard, a collector of songs, and his efforts are well rewarded on this album.

Although Vancouver is far from the center of Celtic music, Tiller's Folly demonstrates that they have mastered the fine art of the Celtic music world. But Buchan Bluegrass is an album that isn't just for Celtic music fans; bluegrass enthusiasts will also enjoy what Tiller's Folly has to offer.
- Sherrill Fulghum, August 12, 2006 - Rambles.Net

Among the many roots of bluegrass, one of the strongest is the body of Scottish music, fiddle tunes in particular, that came across the Atlantic with the countrymen and ancestors of Bill Monroe. If you listen first to this collection of ten tunes by Bruce Coughlan and his band before reading the linear notes, you may be convinced that these are dyed-in-the-wool kilt-wearing Highlanders taking a crack at bringing Monroe's music back to its ancestral homeland - and doing a reasonably good job of it at that. In point of fact, though, Tiller's Folly (Coughlan, guitar and tenor banjo; Nolan Murray, fiddle; Eric Reed, guitar; Laurence Knight, bass) is based half way around the globe in British Columbia.
Be that as it may, the title refers to the Scottish county of Buchan, and indeed, while the instrumentation is essentially bluegrass, the arrangements and vocal approach are thoroughly Scottish on a collection of ten tracks that include "Auchenhalrig," "MacPherson's Rant," "The Ballad of John Rae," and, in perhaps the most striking cut on the disc, a spirited version of the classic "Barnyards O' Delgaty." Bluegrass purists may grumble that the banjo parts are relatively sparse and , for the most part, non-Scruggs-compliant, but Coughlan and his crew are good musicians doing a nice job. Forget the musical correctness and just enjoy it for what it is.
JL - Summer 2006 - Sing Out!

Tiller’s Folly featured at Nation’s Celebration

Tillers Folly, British Columbia’s internationally traveled, virtuosic ambassadors of song, are scheduled to perform at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Canada Day, July 1st, 2008.

They will be performing “The Ghost of Simon Fraser”, a haunting yet spirited ballad they were commissioned to write in celebration of the explorer’s landmark expedition 200 years ago. The song is part of a newly-released album of historical vignettes set to music titled “Stirring up Ghosts”.

Recorded to commemorate British Columbia’s 150 anniversary, the songs touch on early trade expeditions, the Gold Rush of the 19th century, and the many colorful characters that changed a vast, sparsely populated territory into the richly diverse and unique global society it is today. From “Gassy Jack”, who began Vancouver’s hospitality traditions; to the Royal Engineers who made the then-colony habitable; to the wonder of a railroad that seemed impossible to build; they are all here on this collection.

History has never sounded so good, or been so accessible and listenable. Building on the legacy of such legends as Stan Rogers and Gordon Lightfoot, Tiller’s Folly has created an important, yet also tremendously entertaining body of work. This CD with its extensive liner notes are being featured as historical curriculum by teachers throughout British Columbia.

Tiller’s Folly features the evocative songs of Bruce Coughlan, who handles the lead vocal and guitar roles; the intricate filigreed ornamentation of fiddle/mandolin player Nolan Murray; and the tight vocal harmonies and solid bass work of arranger/producer Laurence Knight. Tiller’s Folly have toured the width and breadth of Canada, the U.S., and even Scotland, with their memorable blend of energy, history, musicality, romance, and just plain fun. Seven albums of their potent mix of Celtic influenced Canadianna-and beyond- have redefined the “acoustic/folk” genre.

The Canada Day concert in Ottawa will be an appropriate way to kick off a full summer concert series which includes nine concerts throughout BC with “Rivermania”.

- Press Release


The View From Here
The Ghosts of the Mighty Fraser
A Ripple in Time
A Fine Kettle of Fish (Live CD/DVD combo)
Buchan Bluegrass
A River So Wide
Stirring Up Ghosts
Go the Road



For the past sixteen years, through 1,000's of performances stretching from the Pacific Northwest to the British Isles, they have spread their memorable blend of energy, history, musicality, romance and just plain fun from small and large halls to theaters and festivals.

Hailed by critics (“Tillers Folly is a national treasure.” – Peter North, Edmonton Journal), their words and melodies are at once populist, minimally produced and poignant while at the same time singularly powerful and sincere.

With eight studio CDs to the bands credit, Tillers’ award winning productions continue to expand and refine their potent mix of acoustic & electric based, Celtic influenced Canadiana, Americana, Newgrass ‘and beyond.’

Fueled by their unfailing passion and enthusiasm for the music, Tillers is continually experimenting with different phrasing, tones and textures while recording with some of the most exciting and innovative musicians and singers in the business today as they continue to evolve as artists. Names like the phenomenally talented front man of the iconic group NewGrass Revival, John Cowan to Bob Babbitt (most famous for his work as a member of Motown Records studio band, the Funk Brothers, from 1966–1972, as well as his tenure as part of MFSB for Philadelphia International Records) and the late legendary session keyboardist Larry Knechtel have moved Tillers’ music to a new level of mastery.

Now, in 2012 they have just completed their new project that marks a fresh, new direction for the band and unleashes the writing and acoustic performance prowess of this band. In addition to current members Bruce Coughlan, Nolan Murray and Laurence Knight they will again showcase the vocals prowess of the masterful John Cowan (Doobie Brothers/John Cowan Band), as well as introducing new musical collaborators like Josh Shilling (Mountain Heart) and Cia Cherryholmes (The Cherryholmes), Ronnie McCoury (Del McCoury Band/Travelin McCoury’s), Sam Bush (NewGrass Revival founder/Sam Bush Band) and successful producer/writer/vocalist Wendy Waldman along with the legendary Scottish Music Hall of Famer Phil Cunningham on accordion. Rounding out the musical guests on the album will be Grammy winning “in-demand” producer/session man Randy Kohrs (Dolly Parton/John Cowan Band/Jim Lauderdale), guitarist Jeff Autry (John Cowan Band) and banjo great Scott Vestal (John Cowan Band/Sam Bush Band).

With their new self-penned songs, new musical studio partnerships and an inexhaustible collaborative spirit, Tillers Folly is poised to breakthrough to the next level in 2013 and beyond.