Monday 29 October 2012

Celtic Connections 2013

Celtic Connections 2013 line-up was announced last week, with some of the biggest names in folk, blues, jazz and traditional music landing in Glasgow to celebrate it's 20th year. Across two weeks, 2,100 artists from across the world will play at 300 events. Celtic is one of the world's biggest folk festivals with many sell out events.

The festival will host some big names in the folk world - Kate Rusby, Cara Dillon, Salif Keita, The Mavericks, Jerry Douglas, Aly Bain and Dougie McLean. Its well renowned Transatlantic Sessions; Gaelic concerts; Showcase Scotland; World Music; Americana; Blues and Jazz; ceilidh nights at the Fruitmarket venue and much more!
Plus younger folk and Indie artists - Bellowhead, Aimee Mann, Roddy Hart will perform.  
The festival is also a stomping ground for new talent with open mic sessions at the concert hall with The Danny Kyle Open Stage which is well worth checking out. The Glasgow concert hall is the central venue for the three week festival. The festival includes many dynamic and unusual collaborations, so watch out for those.  

Artistic Director Donald Shaw -  At no other festival do musicians embrace the opportunity to collaborate with acts from different countries and musical genres quite like they do at Celtic Connections. As ever in our 20th year trad and folk will be at the heart of the festival but other musical genres such as world, jazz, blues, electro, Americana and Country will also be showcased.”  Celtic is promoted by Glasgow Life. 


Celtic Connections gallery -
Salif Keïta. Salif is famous for taking his West African roots and infusing them with pop, jazz, Latin and Islamic influences, for a truly unique performance

Photography Inspirations

I first got inspired by photography through the amazing images in Life magazine, Vogue and later in Vanity Fair. I can’t remember exactly when, but I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t drawing either fashion, ballet or portraits -

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Scottish legend Michael Marra

Michael Marra. A quiet unassuming Scottish legend has passed today. He looked at the humour, tragedy and absurd side of life. I'm very grateful to have seen him live several times at Celtic - and in the perfect intimate setting of Mugdock theatre and Milngavie Folk club(where I even got a signed print) His encore was Burns 'Green Grow the Rashes O'...Such a sad loss.
He paints with Words' - I have heard Marra twice at the Mugdock theatre, which with the grand piano off to the left is simply the perfect venue for him, and I list his concerts there as some of my favourite small venue gigs. The first thing that I noticed at his gigs there was how frail he looked, but then when he performed he surprised me with this deep gravelly voice. With endearing heart and ironic dry wit, Marra sang his medley of songs which are brim full of unforgettable characters and crafted images of place and time. 
Kelly's Visit to Dundee,' 'Muggie Shaw', 'Freda Kohl's Visit to the Tay Bridge Bar', and 'Lonesome Death of Francis Clarke'.  In 'Schenectady Calling', Marra paid tribute to Peerie Willie Johnson, a noted folk musician from Shetland.  He finished his set with a Burns song ' Green Grow the Rashes O' and an encore song 'Mary Skeffington' by the late Gerry Rafferty of Paisley.  
Marra's songs often mix Scottish places with a fantasy of American celebrity. He writes songs about such diverse topics as football, ladies choirs, and American idols!   At times his stories and songs are highly amusing, while other songs are thoughtful and touching. 
He derives his musical influences from the likes of Tom Waits, Randy Newman and Bob Dylan.  His music has grown out of both his Dundee Scottish roots and his American musical tastes and he calls his sound 'groovy traditional music.'
Although predominantly known as a songwriter, Marra has worked extensively in theatre, radio and television.  Marra's children, Alice Marra Clark and Matthew Marra, are are members of The Hazy Janes. Marra was in a band called Skeets Boliver in the late seventies.
'There's Love in this world for everyone, Every precious smile you make, Be sure love is out there looking for you.'   Michael Marra

Thursday 18 October 2012

Karine Polwart Oran Mor 19th Sept 2012

Polwart is one of Scotland’s best loved songstress with her beautiful voice and relevant moving songs. 

Many folk artists fill the folk clubs but not so many can fill halls the size of the Oran Mor church auditorium. Her pure softly soothing voice captivated the full house in the clear acoustic church setting with its ornate stained glass windows and with Scottish artist Alastair Gray's colourful mural ceiling.
Karine sang the flowing harmonies and melodies of her story-telling and honest songs. She had her usual two backing musicians, her brother Steven on guitar and Inge Thomson on accordion, plus for this larger event - percussionist Iain Sandilands who added depth and energy to the new songs along with a wind section that included flute and clarinet.
She performed songs from her well received third album Traces - Strange News, We’re all Leaving, Tears For Lots Wife, Salters Road and Sticks and Stones.
One highlight was a lovely duet of the song Solstice with the guitarist Craig from the Scottish band Unwinding Hand. Another set highlight was a haunting solo song from Inge Thomson. 

The set included songs from Polwart's new album Traces. The song Tinsel Show was written about the lights of Grangemouth which shone in the night sky near to where Karine grew up in East Lothian. Karine also included a few of her classic well loved songs from previous albums - Daisy, Rivers Run.

She spoke of her fascination with birds and how many of her songs reflected this. One stand out song from Traces was the song King of Birds. For an encore she sang Follow The Heron. Her new album has her classy songs and a more intricate depth to it.  

Karine said that as she wasn’t an Indie artist she wouldn’t simply come on and play the album songs and leave and that as she had come up through the folk circuit she would play two full sets with an interval and a raffle! 

I’ve heard Karine at several of those smaller folk venues, as well as her leading a Celtic Connections concert on Scottish songs at the Glasgow concert hall. This was another perfect setting for her intimate songs. 

I have met Karine a couple of times and just a week later at the Lake of Monteith Hotel Bar the night before my son's wedding!  She recognised me by name which made me feel just that little bit famous!. She is such a genuine person and this reflects in her music. 

I recommend checking out Karine Polwart's fourth studio album 'Traces' -

Black and White Music Photography

Broken Records
Head and Heart
I try to mix the old with the new and capture moods such as quiet moments of inner reflection. One of my interests is images of new artists and several of those I've photographed are now signed to major labels -  Emeli Sande, Hurts, Mumford, Metronomy, Broken Records,The Low Anthem, King Creoste... My favourite photographers are Mario Testino, Eve Arnold, David Bailey.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Creative Scotland slammed by leading Scottish artists

A hundred leading artists have launched an attack on the management of arts body Creative Scotland. In an open letter, they condemn decision making, disregard for Scottish culture and say the organisation is in an "ongoing crisis". Among those signing the letter are John Byrne, Alasdair Gray, James Kelman, AL Kennedy, Liz Lochhead and Ian Rankin.