Thursday, 14 February 2019

Transatlantic Sessions Celtic Connections 2019



It is always welcome to hear the unique blend of Shetland fiddle and West Virginia song, dubro and Irish pipes, when the TS sessions on stage at the Glasgow concert hall creates warm fires with the winter chills blowing outside. The Transatlantic Sessions is one of the major highlights of this highly respected annual folk, world and roots music festival. 

Dubro master and tonight’s host, Jerry Douglas sang the powerful Jimi Henrix’s song Hey Joe, Aly Bain was on good form, and at one point he dropped his fiddle. Ah the joys of live music! 

Irish singer Cara Dillon gave a glowing performance with her sublime voice. She sang the song Banks of the Foyle and P For Paddy, Bonny, Bonny and Sailor boy. Paul McKenna sang The Dreamer, a song to encourage past dreamers to keep faith, and also Long Days, Banks of the Moy.
Jerry Douglas

It was great to see the return to the TS stage of West Virginian Tom O’Brien, who sang Where the River Meets the Road, form his new album, and Guardian Angel and Keith in a Palm TreePhil Cunningham performed his tune, So Long Liam, 

Nashville’s’Gretchen Peters impressed with the character and emotion of her songs and voice: she sang Matador, On a Bus to St Cloud, Black Ribbons. Peters has received good reviews for her 2018 album, Dancing with the Beast. American 
Molly Tuttle is a young talent with a unique guitar style and she performed Take the Journey, Million Miles Away, and Save This Heart. She is 2018’s AMA Instrumentalist of the Year, plus Song of the Year at the International Folk Music Awards. 

Aly Bain

(Tunes included, The Wishing Tree Set  and Federals)

The TS music offers cross-collaborations between Celtic music and mid American bluegrass and country. Music to re-energise and recharge the soul.
These quality singers were backed by the Transatlantic house band – Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, Phil Cunningham, John Doyle, Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker, Donald Shaw, Daniel Kimbro and James Mackintosh.

Monday, 11 February 2019

New Traditions: Talisk, Vishtèn and Xabier Diaz, Celtic Connections 2019


These bands lit up the warm fires of live music!  
Tonight at the wonderful Old Fruitmarket venue, we were treated to an international line up of award-winning Celtic musicians. They played the Celtic musical traditions of Galicia, the French Canadian Arcadia islands and rich contemporary Scots Celtic.   


Xabier Diaz  Galician folk musician Xabier Diaz performed a colourful set along with the exuberant female voices of JNoró  Adufeiras de Salitre- who sang indigenous language songs and played their traditional percussion on spoons, tambourines, boards. They sing from deeper so their sound goes further. Also performing were the Alvarez brothers, Gutler (hurdy-gurdy) and Javier (diatonic accordion). Diaz mixes the traditions with modern innovations. Their music evokes the rich cultural threads of the Spanish peninsula (given autonomy in 1988).

Musician and composer Xabier Díaz (Berrogüetto, aCadaCanto), is a major voice in the trad-galego scene. He is also as collector of Galician folklore. Their first album, The Tambourine Man (Músicas de Salitre, 2015), has reinterpretations of traditional Galician music and an avant-garde approach with a tribute to the simple sound of traditional percussion. In 2018 they released Noró (Músicas de Salitre, a “declaration of love to the North” in other 13 songs with voice and percussion.  Website: http://www.galiciantunes.com/news/1184



French Canadian multi-instrumentalists, Vishten hail from Prince Edwards island, and they performed a warm set of reds and oranges with a faster style of Cajun music. They play traditional Acadian music along with contemporary vibes and rousing songs. The trio consists of Emmanuelle and Pastelle LeBlanc and Pascal Miousse. They performed on fiddle, guitar, accordion, octave mandolin, whistles, piano, bodhrán, jaw harp and foot-percussion, They said it was hard to find joyous archive songs, but they managed it with the song Miracles. They have a new album called Horizons.  Web - http://vishten.net/biography/


Award winners Taliskburst their sound on stage with fiddle, accordion and guitar. The band are led by concertina dynamo Mohson Amini, who Is one of the most physical and full on energetic players, ever!  Alongside the talents of fiddler Hayley Keenan and guitarist Graeme Armstrong. They played a set of dynamic, expressive and challenging tunes. The band have received excellent reviews for new album Beyond, in which they mix innovative electronic sounds.  Web - http://www.talisk.co.uk/

Encouraging to hear the music traditions kept alive and relevant with modern innovations and creativity. A highly entertaining evening of enriching live music. 

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Nations Apart

Burns and Mozart also lived in times of huge turbulence - late 18th century. 
Robert Burns retold and recharged the great tales and songs of the Scottish nation in such unique ways. I visited Vienna last year – where the genius musicians Strauss and Mozart told the tales of central Europe, Of Austria (population 8m) and the great Danube river.

Poet Bob Dylan, in the turbulent times of the Cold war and civil rights marches. 
In Paris in the 18thcentury Impressionism painters expressed the great creative out pouring and flair to see in new ways. 
Italy’s Renaissance (14th century to 17th) 
took two dimensional art not only to three dimensions but to stratospheric new heights and told of Italy’s great struggles and love of beauty.  

All these highly unique stories matter …


Grace and Danger Review


A troubled soul looking for love…

What a glorious concert to celebrate one of Scotland’s best loved singer songwriters, John Martyn. He was born in London, but after his parent divorce when he was five, it was Glasgow that formed him. – where he lived with his father and grandmother. 

The tribute concert was hosted by double bass Danny Thompson who recounted anecdotes of his tours with Martyn. His immense legacy is well preserved by the fine artists who performed tonight at Glasgow concert hall as part of Celtic Connections. They sang some of his best loved songs.


We were graced with quality guitar playing by American blues guitarist Eric Bibb, who opened the concert with Martyn’s perfect Solid Air. He also performed accomplished guitarEasy Bluesand a moving One World.  

With the full band Ross Wilson (aka Blue Rose Code) performed with dynamic rhythms and heartfelt soul Make no Mistake, and in his first set soulful Fine Lines and Bless the Weather, along with strings led by Greg Lawson


Several younger singer songwriters expressed his widespread musical influence on their work. Lucy Rose provided intimate emotions with the song I Couldn’t Love you More, while Katie Spencer sang, Hurt in Your Heart and John the Baptist

English singer songwriter John Smith performed the songs, Walk Down, Spencer the Rover and Go Down Easyalong with Thompson’s double bass: he sounded very Martyn-like. 
Popular Scottish singer Eddi Reader performed with the string ensemble  the upbeat Dancing, Certain Surprise, and a moving Fairytale LullabyBrit award winners Paul Weller (of The Jam fame and considered a leading mod figure) played the songs, Evil in Your Heart and Sweet Little Mystery.


The concert ended with all on stage to sing his best loved song May You Never, followed by a video of Martyn in concert singing the poignant Over the Rainbow. 
What a memorable, moving night!

Like many of the greats, Martyn mixed varied influences to take his music to the edge, with pounding blues rhythms, Celtic heart and moving soul.  He recorded 22 studio albums and toured exclusively.