Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Celtic Connections Glasgow 2008

Hi all, 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. Hope you enjoy - I enjoy taking them. Paulinex
One of the world's biggest traditional folk festivals the Celtic Connections is in it's thirteenth year, and it 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 mainly folk music. While the festival also embraces many musical styles - from bluegrass, country, classical, Blues, jazz, Celtic and more. Artists range from Scottish traditional singer Dick Gaughan ( a Scottish legend) to 90s band Teenage Fanclub.
I enjoyed hearing some younger artists perform also,
in particular Kirsty McGee Hobopop Collective who were supporting Capercaille – a new band with Mat Martin (who she has worked with for years) and including the bluesy rhythms of Nick Blacka on double bass perfectly tight with Rob Turner on drums. They do a shimmering 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 fab pics of the band. They had Karine Polwart, Inge and Annie all singing backing vocals on their last few songs no less – impressive! (Photos never lie, wheras words can! ) They are a live project around Kirsty's Songs, check them out, they are toruing all over the UK this year. The festival focuses on traditional folk and new Scottish talent, with Showcase Scotland which is held over 5 days.

Favourite artists for me were – this isn't easy after hearing so many!
- the fun Scottish ceilidh band Session A9 how 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 (very 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. I saw many fab artists, also some fairly mediocre ones too. Without naming names I went to check on one singer songwriter who was with a band in the 60s – and he has recorded many albums, but both my son and myself fell asleep during his set! Oh dear. Some artists do 1 or 2 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 very 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 -Jan 2008
With Donald Shaw on piano, the festival artist director, the 17 piece band took over the main stage to open the 15th annual celebration of folk traditional music. This was a showcase for young Scots and Irish folk singers and musicians.
Many singers performed short sets of 2 songs - with American Chris Thile on mandolin performing with plenty of character. Meanwhile the Scots singers were - Karine Polwart, Kris Drever from the Orkneys, Mike Scott (The Waterboys), Julie Fowlis, James Mackintosh and Ewen Vernal. Karine Polwart, who with her clear beautiful voice sang a traditional air.
Several Irish performers took to the stage. Heidi Tolboot, Sharon Shannon, Luka Bloom, Damien Dempsey, Karan Casey, Michael McGoldrick and Jim Murray. Karan Casey has strong melodic unaccompanied vocals, and she also did beautiful harmonies with Julie Foulis. She sang 'Washed up on a Distant Shore' – her whole body feels it. By contrast we then had Damien Dempsey – a big guy with strong arms who sent a booming voice over the packed audience. It is clear the grounding Irish singers get introducing their songs with quick wit down at their local pubs!
Star 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! - but 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 while well rehearsed jam session, and it was clear how much of music or any art for that matter is about the 'personality'.