Tuesday 22 January 2013

Cara Dillon and BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra Glasgow City Halls

Cara is sweet, lovely and petite. She has a pure, natural voice that makes her singing feel effortless. She comes from Londonderry Northern Ireland and sings many Irish traditional songs as well as Dillon/Lakeman songs.

I first heard Cara on a radio interview and I was impressed with her voice. I checked her songs on YouTube and found her singing with the Ulster Orchestra. For Celtic Connections 2013 tonight Dillon recreated this event with the BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra.    

For her first songs here at the City Halls venue she performed with her band (Zoe Conway on fiddle and Michael McGoldrick on whistle and pipes) and included the song Johnny Lovely Johnny.  Then for her fourth song the orchestra took to the stage when the sound became as rich as a film score with that added depth, resonance, and fullness that only an orchestra can produce.

Dillon’s Voice.
On the memorable The Verdant Braes of Skreen the orchestra provided swelling strings and floating woodwind.  For the song Your Hearts No Longer Mine she sang of the heartbreak of lost love with her voice like a subtle flute. On Black Is the Colour her voice was clear and poignant. The orchestra really kicked in once the brass section took flight for the added drama on the song She Moved Through the Fair.

At the start of the second half for the haunting Gaelic song Fil Fil O Run her voice was serene, sincere and full of sadness. On the song Maid of Culmore she sang with her soft voice that both whispered and soared. On High Tide, her own composition, Dillon sang of the homesickness of emigration from Ireland which she says sadly is happening againCara finished her concert with Sam on piano and with the traditional song The Parting Glass, she wished us well..

She was expertly backed by her husband Sam Lakeman on both guitar and piano with whom she has worked for a number of years. They are an impressive musical collaboration and Lakeman's playing was perfectly in sync to Dillon's voice. Cara has a way of singing as if she sees her voice floating over the microphone.

Some of the songs Dillon sang: SET – Johnny Lovely Johnny, Hills of Derry, Verdant Braes of Skreen, Black Is the Colour, Maid of Culmore, High Tide, The Snows They Melt the Soonest, Fil Fil O Run, It Will Not be Long Love, Tunes form the band, Streets of Derry, Hill of Thieves, P Stands for Paddy, I Wish You Well, Parting Glass. 

Cara Dillon is an Irish folk singer from Londonderry Northern Ireland. In 1995 she joined folk group Equation and signed a record deal with Warners Music Group. She collaborated musically with her husband Sam Lakeman under the duo name Polar Star. In 2001, she released her first solo album titled Cara Dillon. The album contained traditional songs and the original Dillon/Lakeman songs "Blue Mountain River" and "I Wish I Was".  The opening track of the album is "Black is the Colour". Her second album Sweet Liberty(2003) , entered the UK indie album charts and included both traditional and original material. The album was promoted with the songs "High Tide", "There Were Roses" and "Everywhere".  Also songs "Falling Like a Star" and "Broken Bridges".  Dillon received The Meteor Irish Music Award for Best Irish Female. Her third album, After the Morning, was released in 2006. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra recorded on two tracks for this album - Garden Valley and The Snows They Melt The Soonest. Paul Brady sang on The Streets Of Derry. The song Never In a Million Years gained Radio 2 airplay. The next single was the double A side: This Time/I Wish You Well.

Dillon released her fourth album in 2009 the award winning Hill of Thieves on her own label Charcoal Records.  In 2003, Dillon performed at the Belfast Festival at Queen’s Opening Ceremony with the Ulster Orchestra. In 2006 Dillon sang at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland. In 2012 Dillon performed two concerts with the Ulster Orchestra. The song "Hill Of Thieves" was voted by BBC listeners as one of the "Top 10" original songs to come out of Northern Ireland. Dillon has also done collaborations with others albums. 

Saturday 19 January 2013

Celtic Connections 2013 20th Celebration concert, Concert Hall Glasgow

A stellar cast of Scottish folk artists took to the concert hall stage Thursday night for a 20th celebration concert of Celtic Connections. Some had taken part in the first ever Celtic Connections in 1994 - such as the talented singer Sheena Wellington and the New Rope string band. This was a quality line up with some of the best that Scotland has to offer as well as Irish singer Cara Dillon and American folk band Flook.

The concert was led by two accomplished musicians - piper Finlay MacDonald and fiddle player Chris Stout. Alongside Scottish pipers were some of the best from the present Scottish folk scene - including Eddi Reader, Michael McGoldrick, Phil Cunningham, John McCusker and Capercaille. 
We were treated to the traditional Burns song Westlin Winds tonight beautifully interpreted by Rod Paterson. Next was the singer Julie Fowlis who sang two Gaelic songs with her flowing and lovely voice. 
The folk band Flook had flown in from America and they joined Irish singer Cara Dillon on stage with her husband Sam Lakeman. Cara and her husband are a perfect musical partnership - Cara with her natural, quietly gentle yet strongly moving voice, while Sam accompanies with quality piano and guitar playing. She sang Avalanche and Parting Glass with Sam on piano. 

The New Rope string band provided a lighter set with some fun comedy routines as they sent notes flying in the air while beating themselves over the head!  Then folk singer Archie Fisher sang Song For A friend. 
Capercaille (Donald Shaw and Karen Matheson) finished the first half with a rousing set of Scottish tunes -  backed by the Scottish Power pipers.
For the second half we were treated to more fine playing from the pipers and fiddlers 
Well loved Scottish singer Eddi Reader sang Willie Stewart and the song Mountainside. 

Accordionist Phil Cunningham was well received when he performed one of his own compositions with fiddle player, John McCusker. Also popular was Sheena Wellington, who sang a very personal version of Burn's best loved song My Love is Like a Red Red Rose.
For the second half of the concert Finlay MacDonald and Chris Stout were joined by a unique festival string ensemble led by Greg Lawson and along with the Scottish Power pipers they created a big wall of sound. After which all the singers took to the stage to sing Hermless.

The finale was what Donald Shaw, Festival Director, enjoys best – a traditional folk sessions of reels and jigs with all the folk musicians on stage and building to a full on flourish of energetic playing, enough to warm the coldest of hearts at this very cold time of year!      
This was a proud-to-be-Scottish night and an enriching concert to start the festival with!  It also gave a true taste of what the festival has to offer.  

Sunday 13 January 2013

Celtic Connections 2013!

Beth Neilson Chapman
Eddi Reader
Julie Fowlis
Celtic Connections is a major Scottish festival. The festival starts January 17th and runs for nearly three weeks Glasgow city centre over 13 venues.

Celtic is a dynamic festival of warm energetic folk tunes, foot-stomping Scottish reels and the rhythms of world music with African drums and haunting songs.

The festival in 2013 will host some big names in the folk world - Kate Rusby, Cara Dillon, Martha Wainwright, Salif Keita, The Mavericks, Jerry Douglas, Aly Bain, Phil Cunningham, Dick Gaughan and Dougie McLean. 

There is a special concert this year to remember renowned Dundee singer songwriter Michael Marra who died in November. The concert is organised by Rab Noakes and is called All Will Be Well. Last year Noakes organised  a concert at Celtic to remember Gerry Rafferty.
Michael Marra
Celtic hosts the well renowned Transatlantic Sessions; Gaelic concerts; Showcase Scotland; World Music; Americana; Blues and Jazz; ceilidh nights at the Fruitmarket venue and more.
Richard Thompson
Also younger folk and Indie artists, such as Bellowhead, Aimee Mann, Roddy Hart, Rachel Sermanni. 
The festival also holds open mic sessions every day at the concert hall on The Danny Kyle Open Stage which are well worth a visit. The Glasgow concert hall is the central venue for the three week festival.

The festival offers many interesting and unique collaborations watch out for these.
It is where old traditions meet new ones. While the heart of the festival is folk and traditional music the fact that musicians come from all over the world opens Scottish music up to many new influences. 
Transatlantic Sessions
Some of the world’s biggest names in folk, blues, jazz and traditional music will celebrate Celtic’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.  http://www.celticconnections.com/

Friday 11 January 2013

Scottish Music 2012

Emeli Sande Albert Hall
There is a vibrant and creative vibe in Scottish music right now as it mixes Celtic traditions with innovative and challenging newer styles of musical rhythms and structures and recording techniques. There are healthy ground roots in its major city’s with many city centre small venues for live music.

There are also several major music festivals held in Scotland each year -
T in the Park, Celtic Connections, Rockness, Belladrum, Edinburgh, (plus many folk festivals

Scottish music is in a very good place. I attend Celtic each year where they have three weeks of open mic sessions and competitions and the festival has many interesting collaborations and musicians attending worldwide. I saw Rachel Sermanni there a few years back.  

Emeli Sande. The biggest breakthrough artist in the UK in 2012 was Scottish singer songwriter Emeli Sande. Emeli Sandé is a Scottish recording artist and songwriter. Sandé first became known to the public eye after she featured on rapper Chipmunk’s, “Diamond Rings” which entered the UK top Ten Singles chart. Also a top ten hit with Wiley’s “Never Be Your Woman. Simon Cowell called Sandé "his favourite songwriter at the minute". In 2012 she received the Brit Awards Critics' Choice Award. She has written for a number of artists, including Susan Boyle, Rihanna, Gabriella, Leona Lewis, Alesha Dixon, Tinie Tempah, Cheryl Cole. In 2010, she signed a publishing deal with EMI. She later announced that Virgin had given her a record deal. Sandé released her first solo single "Heaven" in August 2011. Sandé has had three number-one singles across the UK and Ireland with "Read All About It" with Professor Green, "Next To Me" and "Beneath Your Beautiful" a collaboration with Labrinth.
Her album Our Version of Events made number one in the UK in February 2012 and became the best-selling album of 2012 in the UK, with over 1m sales. 

In the first month of 2013 there will be new album releases from Scottish rock bands Frightened Rabbit and Biffy Clyro.
Karine Polwart
New Scottish albums 2012 
Karine Polwart (Traces ) Lau (Race the Loser) Admiral Fallow (Tree Bursts in Snow)
Plus album releases from Errors, Twilight Sad, Rachel Sermanni, Kassidy, Unwinding Hours.

Scottish record labels
Chemikal Underground, Greentrax, Electric Honey, Optimo,

Wednesday 2 January 2013

The Richest Songs

The money in music is in song royalties - cover versions, radio airplays, film rights, adverts, youtube hits (60p per 1,000 plays), Karoke and so on. The Beatles were the first artists to blaze this path by writing their own songs. 
Young artists be warned though over the small print if signing a contract to a music publisher. Van Morrison has lost out on all the royalty revenues for his song Brown Eyed Girl (10m radio airplays) - because of the deal he signed in New York at 21 in which he was given a royalty rate that was virtually nil. 
The most successful bands spilt any royalties equally between them - U2, Coldplay etc.
Interestingly the woman create the hits, wheras men create the cult hits - as seen in this top ten list as most of the songs are about love, loss, longing, regret, heartbreak...  
Happy Birthday is the number one richest songs, written by school teachers the Hill sisters. Christmas songs are always big money earners and oddly many are written by Jewish songwriters.     

Top Ten Richest Songs
Happy Birthday, 30m
White Christmas, 24m 
You've Lost That Loving Feeling, 20.5m
Yesterday, 19.5m 
Unchained Melody, 18m
Stand By Me, 17m
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, 16m
Every Breath You Take,13.5m
Pretty Woman, 13m
The Christmas Song 12.5m