Thursday 31 December 2009

Pearl, King Tuts Dec 2009

Pearl (aka Katie Sutherland) has a melting, soulful voice and catchy tunes. She always has fun on stage with her gigs. After the first song she took her high heels off and relaxed into her set. For three songs she had violin and cello, as well as her Puppets - that is her band!

Pearl and the Puppets entranced a packed crowd at King Tuts Wah Wah hut Dec 21 2009. The band consists of Pearl (vocals/guitar), Blair McMillan (drums), Gordon Turner (Guitar), Scott Clark (Bass) and Michael Abubakar (Keyboard) - and are tipped for big things. Pearl is a singer songwriter from Kirkintilloch Scotland whose sound has been described as a being similar to that of Regina Spector. She is signed to Universal and headlined at the Wickerman Festival Scotland 2009. Her song "Because I Do" was featured on a Vodaphone advertisement in Australian and New Zealand.

Magic Hat:Jazz Bar Edinburgh Nov 2009

All accomplished musicians. The Magic Hat are a top class band and produce sexy energy charged with lots of blowing and synergy, nad with strong and deep interactions.

I took photos for this very accomplished and fun jazz band from Manchester at the Bar Brel (Ashton Lane Glasgow) and the Jazz Bar Edinburgh in November 2009. They mix it up and also play recognizable jazz tunes. I enjoyed their gigs very much. All accomplished musicians. Steve Chadwick on turmpet, Tony Ormesher guitar, Andrzej Baranek piano, Nick Blacka on double bass and Rob Turner on drums. QUOTE 'The Magic Hat Ensemble take tunes from the standard jazz repertoire and use them as a vehicle for high energy, elaborate arrangements often delivered with a tongue in cheek approach. Tipping their hat to the jazz greats along the way the band are renowned for re-workings of many classic jazz tunes employing the use of metric modulations, odd time signatures and blistering solos.' Check out their new album 'This Conversation Is Over' - they are touring in 2010. They invited me along to take shots - and Nick Blacka on double bass is one of my portfolio images - well double basses are such sexy instruments!

Late afternoon at the Bar Brel Ashton lane Glasgow there were some die hard jazz fans there to hear them - ands one guy said they were one of the two best jazz bands he'd heard in the past ten years. He talked of the Americans coming in by ships and bringing beebop.
Last Saturday (28th Nov) I was at the Jazz Bar to take photos for this incredible jazz band - and for their first album. So many memories of the 2007 jazz bar gigs, and my first time there since then. The images on the walls had changed from the large sepia photos to bright coloured art work. Otherwise it was exactly the same and I had very strange feelings standing at the bar and taking the photos - thinking about it all.


Hobopop Collective - Live album No 5

Hobopop Collective - Live album No 5
'banjo-dominated americana from its tom waits-like washboard blowouts'
I was thrilled to travel down to Manchester to shoot for the bands live album. Mat met me at the Manchester station so I missed the BMP March.

Kirsty and Mat have a flowing and engrossing vibe to their upbeat tunes. Kirsty has moving soul-filled vocals and Mat provides the energy with his stringed instruments. Her songs feel light and easy, but are full of mystery and clever meanings. They do a mix of laid back jazz-infused bluegrass acoustic tunes. Kirsty sings her travelling songs that draw close affinities with nature – ‘Your Under My Skin’ (songs about dust!) ‘Killer Wasps’, the fun ‘Sandman’, the bluesy tones of ‘Easy’. She draws inspiration from her travels hobo style. She and Mat have been performing together the past 4 years and are based in Manchester.

McGee's evolving band is named the Hobopop Collective. With a diversity of musicianship the Collective consists of on drums Rob Turner ( jazz band Magic Hat Ensemble), on double bass Nick Blacka (Magic Hat Ensemble), and for this live recording on guitar James Steel (from the rock band Brute chorus) Chris Cundy on clarinet ( Fyfe Dangerfield's band the Guillemots and the Gannets) For her recent album - 'Live Album No 5' - McGee decided to have it recorded in one live take in a Manchester theatre to have that special live audience vibe.

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Edinburgh EIF 2009

Edinburgh festival was fun, manic, crowds, too many shows and lots of colour! The book festival and the poetry reminds me why I do this and I met lots of fun people. Absolutely love it!

Sunday 16th August
This is my fourth trip to photograph the EIF. It changes each year and the venues move, yet the festival remains very much the same as it always has been since the forties that I grew up with. The street performers seem more colourful and professional and there is more photographers now. As I walked past some colourful graffiti I decided my trip this year would be about the colours and sounds of the festival.

I immersed myself in the flurry of sounds. A taxi driver entertained me with tales of the 14 miles of tram track from the Ocean terminal to Saughton – he was not sure what it is for and the work is over six years in the building. Edinburgh puts on a good face though. As I crossed the wide barricaded path over Princes Street to the Mound Art galleries, I noticed the rest of the street is now dug up also. At the book festival I decided to have ice-cream with a flake and sitting on the wooden bench beside the central green statues, I felt a bit like Forrest Gump as I watched a dandelion wishes float up on the breeze. I watched Iain Banks having a photo shoot. I was not entirely sure why only this one photographer is taking the shoot. I had a chat with him and visiting the book festival and reading poetry reminds me of what inspires and motivates my work.

The Broken Records Queen Hall gig Edge festival  was an upbeat dynamic fun gig. Their music makes me feel on a rollercoaster: their songs move from slow to the adrenalin rush of the ride. The are led by two hot suave guys who are brothers and their cello, violin, and trumpet lend a distinct Scottish feel.

I saw some shows today.  Ihayami Indian dance which was graceful. Later a Brazilian show was vibrant, energetic and fun with extremely fit guys! Book festival – Raj Persaud and Mingus Campbell. While music gigs are my favourite thing, I get energy and colour from the dance. There was a wealth of events going on and it is a good idea to visit a few venues and pick up their brochures. Edinburgh is one of the biggest festival in the world.

Wed 19th Aug
Mercy Madonna of Malawi. The Malawi actors, singers and dancers are excellent with their subtle rhythms. No easy answers here? I’m sure Madonna feels she is offering a child a chance of a better life. One answer is to improve the infrastructures and education.  Venezuela Viva! With energetic salsa flamenco… offer all the sunshine colours. If you enjoy hot babes, this show is a definite must!
The Highstreet entertainers: Sadly no Martians this year. Maybe this is a year of creativity rather than performance. Being creative is a wonderful gift and if you believe you have something to offer it’s worth it – I hope!
*Check out my new Dance gallery and Edinburgh festival 2009 gallery.

The Clan Gathering

My Edinburgh Experience - The Clan Gathering Edinburgh 2009
A year or so back I saw a photo in the Scotsman – it was an old b & w photo of a clan parade about 50 years ago in Princes Street Edinburgh. I thought it was interesting. Many ex-pats had returned to take part and celebrate their Scottish heritage. As I arrive July 25th, my birthday, I am struck by the contrast in cities, behind the cobbled stones. Here the bin men are on strike – yet again. There are delays with the trams. Still Edinburgh always put on a good show.

This was a unique affair, several years in the making and the clan Gathering offered expats a chance to come to Scotland and celebrate a shared heritage and shared roots.

Mugdock Music Festival 2009

This year the festival was held in a marquee in the walled garden, which seemed much simpler while missing the activities in the courtyard. The Mugdock festival brought together a broad range and depth of artists and had a strong international flavour. The Shawlands, Chinese and belly dancer dance groups brought colour. The flamenco dancers and musicians brought energy and colourful African drums with Arawarra. Seylan Baxter and Cheyanne Brown played their warm flowing harp and cello tunes. The Sighthill Project was a fresh, well taught group of talented youngsters from different countries, who sing and play violin together.

Headlining this year were John McCusker, Michel Marra, and the Battlefield band. The Battlefield band played a fun energy-filled set of Scottish tunes. McCusker. Woomble and Drever, three talented artists plus Heidi Talbot, have joined forces to produce a class album of contemporary tunes with folk influences. To our delight Scottish singing royalty Eddi Reader turned up and sang on a couple of songs with the group! 

Some artists are both unassuming and also brimming with talent and they play intelligent, insightful and instinctive music. Michael Marra and John McCusker both fall into the category in different ways. McCusker has that ability to sink into the emotion and grip you with his music through his expressive dynamic fiddle playing.
Michael Marra at Mugdock theatre
When he arrived at Mugdock he discovered the perfect small theatre. The theatre is fairly new and seats about 50 in a tiered semi circle and with a shiny grand piano to the left of the small stage. There is one side entrance and the door to the back stage room. It has been built with music lovers in mind. 

I managed a chat with Marra and he appeared to recognise me from last year. I sense he doesn’t miss a beat. He had his green shirt laid out on the side table and he said how much he loved the Mugdock theatre and the beautiful piano. You could feel his excitement. Last year in 2008 he said he had travelled through the rain and the winding country roads wondering where he was coming to. 

Marra's is unforgettable playing the small Murdock theatre. His songs are both very humorous (as is his chat) and insightful and his clever use of words and images in his songs, he takes himself into the others heads. There are echoes of his poet and musical hero, Bob Dylan. He cleverly uses humour and irony to describe the truths of the diversity of human nature. He draws on Dundee his home town often and of the football team Dundee United FC. All eyes are fixed on Marra throughout. 

Marra finished with the Robert Burn's song Green Grow the Rashes O and his smile said it all. For his encore he sang a beautiful, moving song, He talked about an uncle he never knew who died and about family being in the huff with each other 
He sang the words, ‘Did you forget the world and did the world forget you?’ 

You could feel Marra’s joy of it after his encore song. A perfect ending to the Saturday.
Whenever I think of the special audience connection this has to be the perfect small venue where that magic can happen. Buckley calls it the 'romance of the small venue'. 

Songs & Music that make me cry

Many of these songs below are piano songs (not all) - just piano, and powerful, direct, clear vocals that are deeply moving. I play piano myself so maybe that's why piano gets me. Minor keys make us feel sad – oddly sad songs make us feel better because we know we are not alone.
Let It Be – written and sung by Paul McCartney (one of the best songs ever written, simple yet so emotional, about his mother who died when he was 13)
A Heart Needs Home - written and sung by Richard Thompson
This Cruel Country – written and sung by Richard Thompson (most moving lyrics)
Who Knows Where the Time Goes – written by Sandy Denny and sung by Fairport Convention
Persuasion - written and sung by Richard Thompson
Blue - written and sung by Joni Mitchell
River – written and sung by Joni Mitchell (can't praise Joni enough she's my musical hero)
Both Sides Now – written and sung by Joni Mitchell (my favourite all time song)
Always on My Mind – old song sung by Willie Nelson ( amazing emotions)
Clarinet Concerto In A, K 622 – Mozart (whenever I feel down the best therapy)
Nocturne In E Minor, Op.72, 1 – Chopin
Sonata Pathetique - Beethoven
Visions of Johanna – written sung by Bob Dylan ( immersing love song)
Bridge Over Troubled Water – written and sung by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle
Tears in Heaven – written and sung by Eric Clapton (about his young son who fell to his death)
Fix You – Coldplay (wonderful mood the way it builds momentum)
Sometimes You Can't Make it on your own – written and sung by Bono and U2 (about Bono's father)
Probably more…..!!

Elton John: Music Magic Rocket Man SECC

Elton – Music Magic from the Rocket Man SECC Glasgow June 2009
Elton John was fabulous – dynamic vocals and piano and even after all these years performing he seems to thrive on it, while his voice gets better and better. Elton appeared up the steps and paused to bask in the audiences thrill to see him there!

Elton John...- I had forgotten how much I love ‘Your Song’ –  Great gig!.  Adrenalin rush to the head..I’m still standing!  

These photos of Elton were such an honour for me and I was hugely excited about my first time shooting at the SECC. It seemed quite restrictive and they were surprised I was there to shoot the support artist too. I always shoot support artists too, well you never know they might be big one day! Other press snappers turned up and we were all taken into the arena, where there was more waiting about in the dark at the front of the wide stage. Elton’s piano was the only shape lit up and then suddenly through the darkness he appeared up the side steps. We were only allowed the one song and the adrenalin rush was incredible and the knowing you only have such a short time to get that one shot. Nerve wracking!!  I thought after what an honour to shoot Elton.

Elton was wearing a pink shirt and pink glasses and a black jacket covered in colourful music notes and a keyboard and with the words ’music magic’ embroidered on the back. He ran through his back catalogue of hits and the packed SECC loved him. 
He built up the energy with strong renditions of 'I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues' and 'Daniel'.  Followed  by a full fifteen minute arrangement of his well known hit ‘Rocket Man’ which took the energy up after which he performed 'Sad Songs' and 'Sorry' which took the tempo down. 

The most moving moment was ‘Candle in the Wind‘ when you could hear a pin drop  in the dark with only Elton and his spot lit piano it felt like candles blowing in the air of the vast arena.  I heard echoes of Norma Jean and of Diana both beautiful ladies who shone for a brief time. He also sang 'I Need Love', 'Fly Away', 'Are You Ready For Love' and more from his wonderful back catalogue. He had his long time band members with him and Nigel Olsen on drums.  I was pleased that for his encore he played my favourite Elton song 'Your Song'. I had my Your Song piano sheet music with me with the vague hopes of getting it signed. I did get down near the front for the last songs and Elton was signing autographs, mostly gig tickets.

Elton writes piano melodies that touch people’s hearts and you could feel the love! Now this year I’ve taken photos of Richard Thompson and Elton both. If I could ever take shots of Paul McCartney (!!) I could die happy. I’d no idea what to expect and I guess the next time I take photos at the SECC I won’t be so nervous!

Broken Records - Oran Mor 2009

The band are being spoken of as the next big thing. They played packed and popular gigs in Inverness where they picked up a following, and also supported Sons and Daughters there.
Drawing on influences as diverse as folk legends the Waterboys to Canadian rockers Arcade Fire – this young 7 piece rock band from Edinburgh command the stage. In one sense their music might be called Celtic rock? - with the feel and mood of Scotland matched with an energetic rockiness. From charismatic blond front man Jamie Sutherland, and his brother on fiddle who displays a rich and dynamic style – the band have then added extra oomph with trumpet, and depth with cello. Also they boast powerhouse strong drums - good drummers can be often overlooked – yet they are the centre core of any top band. The band includes fiddle, guitar, bass, keys, drums, trumpet, and cello.
Sutherland also plays keys and guitar and takes the tempo down for a few songs. My thought is - watch out for this band and expect the music to match the hype here.


MARTHA WAINWRIGHT Old Fruitmarket Celtic Connections 2009
Shimmers like the sun – Something very gentle yet surreal and very strong in Martha’s performance of her meaningful songs. They swoop, yet also carry a clarity and depth to them. Her influences are strongly folk (from both her parents) yet blend and converge with other song writing and vocal styles - such as contemporary pop/rock, alt American country and even cabaret chanson, as heard in the early 20th century vaudeville clubs of Europe. Honing her own very unique style.

Hamish Henderson Poet, translator, Highland folklorist, campaigner for Scottish parliament and guiding light behind the Edinburgh fringe festival. The tryst of Hamish Henderson, who has died aged 82, was with Scotland. It was a meeting of high consequence - across the 20th century, in darkness and in sun, Scotland informed all that Henderson was as a man and a poet. And in his Nelson Mandela freedom song, Rivonia, when Henderson sings, "Spear of the nation unbroken", it is to Scotland as much as South Africa that he refers. Like Burns, Henderson was, first and last, a poet, and poetry was for them both language rising into song, responsible to moment, people, place and joy. (QUOTE GUARDIAN Timothy Neat March 2002)


I was pleased to see both Cherryholmes and dubro player Jerry Douglas and his band at their Old Fruitmarket gig. After so many Scottish performances it was fun to see and hear the exuberant energy, fearlessness and joy of the road that I hear in American music.

Douglas had several award winning musicians with his band - Luke Bulla on the fiddle, who played with an energetic and fun style; Guthrie Trapp on dynamic and energetic guitar and bassist /composer Victor Krauss on electric cello who all perfectly complimented Jerry’s highly accomplished and engrossing musical style.
I first noted Jerry Douglas backing singer Allison Krauss and thought what an awesome band she had backing her. Jerry plays with total skill and ease producing an entertaining and fun set. Well worth reading his Bio too, a great read!


Celtic Connections festival finishes each year with the Transatlantic Sessions and bringing the songs back home. The theme was about how the Scots and Irish took their songs over to the US and how  the songs came back home again.
The festival always ends with these two sold out concerts. Scottish fiddler Aly Bain and slide guitarist Jerry Douglas invite their friends to join them on stage. The concert included singers from the USA such as the powerful talents of Nancy Griffith, Dan Tyminski, Kathie Mattau - and from Scotland the clear perfect voices of Eddi Reader and Julie Fowlis, The cast of top musicians performed songs such as Hey Joe and Dylan’s Man of Constant Sorrow. We are reminded of the strong ties between America and Scotland.
Kathie Mattaau performed John Martyn’s ‘May You Never’ as a tribute to him. John died on January 29th. One of Glasgow’s great sons - Martyn performed with both Kathie and Jerry Douglas at the first ever Transatlantic Sessions back in 1995.


Provided a fun party sound. This band work in pairs with a great deal of synergy and energy and ran seamlessly through their set. Many were dancing and I enjoyed their gig enormously.
Julie Fowlis and Kath McInnes joined them on stage for several numbers. On the left were the rich brass section behind the fun rhythms and on the right the emotive Celtic sounds (fiddle, banjo, accordion, pipes) while in front were the two colourful lead singers who danced in perfect rhythm together. There was lots of colour and they blew those winter chills away with their hot, hot sound! The unique combination of sounds works. They clearly enjoyed themselves and had great rapport with the audience. There was movement, vibrant colour, smooth rhythm and positive energy.  They finished the gig with a rumba conga line through the audience. We could have partied all night!

Celtic Connections Review 2009

This 3 week festival in the heart of Glasgow is one of the music and folk calendars biggest events and plays on a world stage, with visitors from around the world. I had a wonderful time taking shots at the Celtic Connections this year and I enjoyed the festival more than last year.  There was a great line-up and variety/breadth of artists and it was good to hear new things being ventured by the younger artists such as with the 'Burns Unit' with Karine Polwart - sometimes things intersect? Well done to all involved.  The festival raises the profile of Scottish musicians and artists worldwide with a gathering of some of the best Scottish musical talent. It also encourages new artists and collaborations as well as bringing over many well-respected artists from around the world.


I was reading that the Edinburgh festival is short on cash and may not do a fringe Sunday in the meadows this year, and they also lack a headline sponsor. . There was a big Ticket Box Office problem last year with the new online system messing up ticket sales. I went directly to the venues for my tickets.
THE EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL (EIF) was begun to pick peoples spirits up after the Second World War. We headed over this year on the Friday to the Pleasance venue to see some comedians up from England.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

The Martians - “THE SPIRIT OF THE FRINGE” 2008

Edinburgh Festival ‘GREYFRIARS TWISTED TALES’ August 2008
The Martians - winners of “THE SPIRIT OF THE FRINGE” 2008.
‘ Great fun… These boys have a great future .... The Martians have landed.’ Scotsman 'Consistently funny and with quality songwriting, this fast paced madness was pure entertainment' 5 stars Three Weeks. ‘Such catchy tunes that I have stuck in my head, full of fast paced delicious dry humour and clever (twisted!) takes on human foibles and superstitions, love of dogs and Scotland! ..and the Mary Poppins meets Hitler sketch, a pure musical Monty Python!’ 5 star reviews!

The Kielty Brothers and Houston performed at Edinburgh festival with their most professional show so far. They have the backing of Carole Metcalfe of the Bridewell theatre company.

MUGDOCK Music Festival 2008

The second Mugdock music festival June 2008 was a big success with sell out events for the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Michael Marra.
The Walled Garden Concerts - were a huge success. On Saturday the perfect harmonies of Prelude from Newcastle ( hit song Neil Young's the Goldrush) After which the Red hot Chilli Pipers rocked it with their pipes and drums and had the crowd on their feet. The Chilli Pipers are talented young men who can play those pipes! AND also dance and rock with the addition of a rock band. They had lots of colour and personality, and the crowd loved them. Their music ranges from the Beatles to traditional Scots tunes. The Chilli Pipers were followed by the colourful Massia Warriors in brightly decorated costumes who managed to smile their way through the rain (which started during their set) and  with jumping and getting the audience involved asking them questions. 

On Sunday the East Dunbartonshire Swing band brought jazz and sunshine, followed by the fun West African beats of smiling Samba Sene and Diwan, and the Beats of Brazil.

For the FREE Courtyard event we had a marquee this year, and it buzzed all afternoon on both the Saturday and Sunday with a strong line-up and variety of artists and dancers. The dancers brought colour and drama and included flowing Chinese, stately Indians and the power of Flamingo. Ben the Hoose from New Zealand (winners of the traditional album). Two young men originally from Scotland on fiddle and guitar who played some top tunes and got everyone’s feet tapping. Ayawarra with funky African drums had the children dancing on the stage. Great fun.

Seylan and Cheyanne played their classic traditional music on harp and cello along with Seylan's rich vocal. The refuges children of the Sighthill Project were a delight both singing and playing their fiddles. Plus festival director Erne Parkin and the Crossborder band entertained with upbeat folk/bluegrass song.

Hobopop Collective Tall Ship 2008

Kirsty McGee & Mat Martin (Karine Polwart & Inge Thomson supporting) Tall Ship 8th June 2008.
The gig had a calm feel good vibe. These artists are soul-warming and moving. Mat kindly invited me to this gig months ago – it seems odd it has rolled around now. I had a magical evening…
On the most perfect June day - I made my way to the Tall Ship that sits on the River Clyde

Karine Polwart! Tall Ship Gig June 2008

Tall Ship Gig Karine Inge Kirsty and Mat magic evening -  Karine Polwart! I had a chat with Karine. She writes brilliant songs –and has a wonderful voice. One of the best. She keeps it simple. Also Kirsty & Mat Martin wonderful fun young duo who do acoustic blues-jazz tunes. After the gig the sky was the most perfect deep blue, the street lights like fairy lights, the moon a tiny sliver. It was light a dream or like a Picture book cover.

*Karine is an astute, caring and thoughtful writer of memorable tunes. Her songs, with their direct yet careful simplicity hit home with her clear unaffected soothing tones. Karine has an engaging voice. She sang songs from her wonderful new album – ‘This Earthly Spell’ – Firethief ‘down where I cannot go’ , ‘Rivers Run’ and the touching ‘Sorry.’ Karine sang a song ‘ Bonecrusher’ that she said she had written for her favourite Tv series Deadwood. She also sang 2 of my favourites ‘ Daisy (‘There are people in this world who don’t think like you do.’) and the moving Hole in my Heart. Karine finished her set with a haunting lullaby songs ‘Beow’ which means ‘Alive’.  Her music has joyful moving directness and sincerity. As Karine’s sings - ‘hearts can sing.’ Thank you guys for such a memorable evening.

MICHAEL MARRA at Mugdock Festival theatre

The theatre highlight was Michael Marra. Marra is a Scottish songwriting legend from Dundee. Out of this small grey haired man with the weather beaten face came this huge gravely voice and clever songs, with a strong Scottish and American favour to them. With his clever wit and playful way with words, his songs talk about the eccentricities of the Scottish character. He writes about women’s choirs, meeting artist Freda Kahlo at the pearly gates -well more exactly at a pub on the Tay Bridge because she’s held up! He sang ‘If Dundee was Africa’ ‘Maggie Shae’ ‘Wa can Tell the Difference’ Jersey Kitchen Partner’ ‘Hamish’ and Dylan’s ‘Tomorrow wasn’t such along Time’. He’s the real deal! He finished his set with a perfect version of a Burns classic - ‘Green Grow the Rashes O’

While Marra’s voice draws from jazz, blues, pop and folk with the likes of Tom Waits, Randy Newman and Dylan, he keeps it essentially Scottish in flavour. In 1985 he released his solo album, Gaels Blue, on his own label. .’.

MARRA's music is soaked in the Scottish experience, strained through a gauze of ragtime blues-piano and shot with filaments of traditional folk and American voices ... ‘; Scotland on Sunday

Celtic Connections Glasgow 2008

I had an amazing few weeks at the 'Celtic Connections' traditional music festival here in Glasgow. It's massive - with workshops, concerts, clubs, a multitude of venues...more, for 3 weeks. Met many other photographers, felt overwhelmed, and had much fun. Some amazing singers, poets, artists, musicians from all over the world. Been busy editing my Celtic photos.

One of the world's biggest traditional folk festivals, Celtic Connections is in it's 13th year, and attracts musicians and visitors worldwide. It is jammed full of outstanding musicians and singers. The opening concert at the Royal Concert Hall is a showcase for the artists. It is good to see the many young artists excited to be playing here. The festival embraces many musical styles - bluegrass, country, classical, Blues, jazz, Celtic, world and more. Artists range from Scottish traditional singer Dick Gaughan (a Scottish legend) to 90s band Teenage Fanclub.  I enjoyed some younger artists also.

In particular Kirsty McGee Hobopop Collective who were supporting Capercaille – a new band with Mat Martin and the bluesy rhythms of Nick Blacka on double bass and tight with Rob Turner on drums. They do a mix of laid back jazz-infused acoustic tunes. I had no idea this was their debut gig, but I felt an energy and excitement and got some top photos. They had Karine Polwart, Inge and Annie all singing backing vocals on their last few songs, impressive! (Photos never lie!) They are a live project around Kirsty's Songs, check them out. The festival also focuses on traditional folk and new Scottish talent, with Showcase Scotland which is held over five days.

Favourite artists for me were (this isn't easy after hearing so many!) - the fun Scottish ceilidh band Session A9 who got the dance floor hopping;  Joan Osbourne from the US rich vocals; Karen Mathieson's haunting Gaelic voice; the top band at the TransAtlantic Sessions; the excitement of the Common Ground concert; Kristy McGee and Mat Martin Hobopo Collective (impressed with this new band's debut gig re my photos).
Sold out events included – Steve Earle, KD Lang, Teenage Fanclub, Peatbog Faueries, Capercaille, Dick Gaughan's 60th.

I had a wonderful time at the Celtic Connections festival and I saw many quality artists. Some artists do one or two reasonable songs and then struggle to produce anything nearly as good for years and years. What matters here is having momentum rather than consistency. A few singers have voices that make you sit up and notice, that grab you deep inside.'  Over 19 days, more than 300 events, 14 venues, over 1,000 artists.
Celtic Connections Opening Concert "Common Ground", Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Main Auditorium 2008 and with festival artistic director Donald Shaw on piano. The 17 piece band took over the main stage to open the 15th annual celebration of folk, roots and traditional music - and a showcase for young Scots and Irish folk musicians.
Singers performed songs with American Chris Thile on mandolin who performed with plenty of character. Scots singers were,  Karine Polwart, Kris Drever from the Orkneys, Mike Scott (The Waterboys), Julie Fowlis, James Mackintosh and Ewen Vernal. Karine Polwart, with her clear beautiful voice sang a traditional air.

Also Irish performers - Heidi Tolboot, Sharon Shannon, Luka Bloom, Damien Dempsey, Karan Casey, Michael McGoldrick and Jim Murray. Karan Casey sang unaccompanied and beautiful harmonies with Julie Foulis. She sang 'Washed up on a Distant Shore'. By contrast Damien Dempsey was a big guy with a booming voice over the packed audience. Irish singers have a grounding introducing their songs with quick wit down at their local pubs!

Kate Rusby sang John Barberry and High on the hill - she has a still presence and a clear stirring voice. For their encore the band, led by violinist John McCusker, performed 'Will Ye No Come Back Again' to an Irish Air.
There were perhaps too many reels for an audience bound to sit in their seats! There was plenty of vivid colours to entertain, from the deep reds to the moving blues. It was fun to see so many artists perform on the one stage in this casual, well rehearsed jam session, and it was clear how much of music, or any art, is about the 'personality'.