Thursday, 22 April 2010

**Celtic Connections 2010

This year I went to more eclectic or world music shows. In fact, looking at the brochure it can be hard to find the authentic Scottish roots music. It can be a funding thing also - as inclusion and world music are the big buzz words.
I attended a to a few 'Open Mic' sessions/The Danny Kyle Stage. These are held each day at 5pm at the Royal Concert Hall - and have a packed audience and the standard is very high. This is the place for new talent and to get a support slot at Celtic. The first day I was there, there was a beautiful dark haired violinist from France who had travelled especially to Glasgow for the open mic. On Thursday a young girl singer called Rachel Sermanni caught my attention there when I stopped in briefly. I found out that she has been working with none other than respected song writer Boo Heredine for her first album and Liz (who introduces the open mic) said this girl is going places - I thought so too.

My highlights at Celtic this year were -
Fyfe Dangerfield ABC 16th Jan 2010 - Dangerfield stormed the ABC Glasgow with his latest solo album 'Yellow Moon'. He is a vibrant, energetic and expressive performer.There were shades of the Beatles and other musical influences here. Fyfe is also the leader of the pop alternative band the Guillemots.
Kirsty McGee & the Hobopop Collective, Classic Grande January 16th 2010 - for an evening of new folk traditions Live album No 5. - Kirsty McGee sings in several styles - roots, Americana, jazz and blues. She has a soothing and engrossing vocal as she sings her hopeful love songs.
Thursday the Old Fruitmarket - The Low Anthem from New York State. There is 'lots' of space and freeness in their music. They made me think of hippies and various influences from Conor Obrest, The Shins to the Eagles.
Danny Thompson the Old Fruitmarket - Renowned double bass player Thompson introduced an all-star line up that included - Darrell Scott, Luka Bloom, Donald Shaw, Michael McGoldrick, Eddi Reader, Martin Simpson, Mollie O'Brien, and Tim O'Brien. This was a quality and stately gig - and uplifting and heartfelt by the performers.
The Transatlantic Sessions Celtic Connections 2010 - Royal Concert Hall 31st January 2010. The standard of all the artists involved is extremely high, and includes the top Celtic and Americana artists - including - Michael McGoldrick (flute), James Mackintosh (drums, Donald Shaw (piano), Danny Thompson (double bass), John Doyle (guitar), Russ Barenberg (guitar), Bruce Molsky (fiddle), Tim O’Brien (banjo), Sara Watkins (fiddle), Dan Tyminski (guitar and mandolin) - and the musical directors Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas. Then the lady singers were introduced - Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson and Cara Dillon. A heart-warming, emotional quality concert. Later we stopped at the Late Sessions and heard the winner of the BBC2's Young Folk Musician 2009 played. He had the audience clapping enthusiastically.

Collaborations - One aspect that I enjoy at Celtic is the artists collaborating and it is obvious how much fun they have on stage (presumably backstage too!). Many of the artists at the gigs spoke about their writing with other artists and being inspired by them. In the folk world it is the norm to co-write or cover others songs.

It is worth tasting the buzz of it especially over the final weekend. I know how much I got from the folk festivals in my twenties and it was an enormous eye opener about music and so very different to the pop/rock music worlds. It is more organic and the influence of the huge media conglomerates is less obvious. There are many younger artists here who are not at all about the stuffy folk image and their music expresses many genres and cultures. For example - Laura Veirs from Canada, Fyfe Dangerfield (of the alterative band the Guillemots), Speed Camera from Algiers, Hobopop Collective from Manchester and The Low Anthem from New York State. My twenty year old musician son, who plays in a rock band, came some Celtic gigs with me and I am now hopeful that not all young people view folk music as 'stuffy' or mainly for older people!

This was the 17th year and another successful one for the festival. I notice my photos change each year - I am not sure if it is me improving or the festival changing. I had a wonderful couple of weeks of music from such a wide variety of places, cultures and influences. 
Big thanks to all involved, and especially the many talented artists and their music. Celtic Connections gigs 2010 - Laura Veirs, Hobopop Collective, Fyfe Dangerfield, Stornaway, Beth Nielsen Chapman, The Future Trad, Angelique Kidjo, Speed Caravan, Gypsy Kings and Queens, Justin Adams and Juldeh Camera, Bellevue Rendezvous, Catriona MacDonald, The Low Anthem, Danny Thompson, Rachel Harrington, Diana Jones, The Transatlantic Sessions with Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain.