Thursday, 13 February 2014

Celtic Connnections festival 2014

Nicola Benedetti and Phil Cunningham
#ccfest  Each cold January Celtic Connections brightens our dark evenings with warm, enriching ceilidh music, beautiful 
Gaelic song and exhilarating world music. It's a celebration of the folk song and traditions, dynamic collaborations 
of renowned Scottish musicianship alongside famous world artists - and more than that an introduction to new artists. 
Celtic is all about the live interaction with the audience and very much about the live bands. 

I have attended Celtic for many years now and the buzz at this festival is particularly infectious. The hub of Celtic is at the Glasgow Concert Hall which provides a fitting setting for the main concerts. Other venues range from the intimate Oran Mor to the atmospheric Old Fruitmarket in the Merchant city part of town - excellent for ceilidhs.

This year at Celtic 2014, its 21st year, I heard some wonderful musicians here for the first time  -  Lau, RM Hubbert, Mogwai, Imelda May, Nicola B, Del Amitri and from Greece Alkinoos Ioannidis. I also enjoyed artists I'd heard before - Dougie MacLean, Julie Fowlis, erry Douglas, Karine Polwart, Kris Drever, Capercaillie. I enjoyed several top concerts this year at Celtic and it certainly gets me through January!                          

Celtic sells out several big venues on the same night. When Celtic started back twenty one years ago in 1995 people wondered would they draw a crowd out at this quiet time of year in January to see folk concerts? It really is incredible how the festival has grown year on year to become the biggest folk festival gathering worldwide.
Julie Fowlis
Joy Kills Sorrow
Kris Drever
There was crossovers between folk and classical music at the festival with among others - Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain have been working with classical violinist Nicola Benedetti for her new Scottish themed album.  Also award-winning folk band Lau composed with the classical and experimental Elysian Quartet - 'The Bell That Never Rang'  for the New Music Biennial Glasgow 2014.
Julie Fowlis & Nicola Benedetti

Duncan Chisholm
The Big Dish

At Celtic's main event, the Transatlantic Sessions - and who are one of my all time favoruite bands - there are crossovers between Scottish traditional music and American country and bluegrass - it is a powerful combination!  When music making goes in new directions with challenging collaborations, that is often when the best music can develop.  

Capercaillie celebrated their 30 years together at the festival with a concert to mark the release of their album 'At the Heart of It All'.  The band are one of Scotland's most successful contemporary folk bands and are led by festival artistic director Donald Shaw and the beautiful voice of Karen Matheson.
Dougie MacLean Burns International concert Hydro

It is good to see and hear the confidence, creativity, pride and range in Scottish music these days.  It is a huge boost for Glasgow to host this international event each year.
I  particularly enjoyed -  Alkinoos Ioannidis, RM Hubbert, Del Amitri, Lau, and Julie Fowlis.  
There are often several wonderful concerts on the same night. One good thing is there is much encouragement given 
over the festival to new musicians – with the Late Sessions, Open mic and also Showcase Scotland.   
Lau at Glasgow City Halls
Aidan O'Rourke with Lau
Darrell Scott & Tim O'Brien
Jerry Douglas & Aly Bain Transatlantic Sessions
Shaw does a great job of pulling the festival together to offer diversity, breadth and quality. It’s clear he enjoys varied and interesting collaborations.  
The festival encourages playing live, ethnic traditions, vocal harmonies, unaccompanied singing, story telling songs and words with a message, real instruments and diverse collaborations. I look forward to next year's Celtic Connections festival!

Imelda May
Del Amitri
The Hydro

All Photographs are copyright Pauline Keightley and are made with permission of the artists, the festival, and the venues involved. Photos at Celtic Connections since 2008.
Rab Noakes -  with  Where Dead Voices Gather' - still relevant and even better than his younger days....