Saturday, 27 February 2016

Rab Noakes at Milngavie folk club

Noakes was among old friends and new on Saturday at Milngavie folk club.
He has many song gems in his studied repertoire - as well as his own quality songs - some unexpected such as Cliff Richard's sing along Dynamite; some hoped for with Dylan's Time Out of Mind outtake track Mississippi; some remembered with his radio hit of the 70s Branch. 

He spoke of Nashville, Lindisfarne, Hank Williams, Joe Strummer, Kathleen McInnes, Monroeville, Alabama.. when he made the comment - 'Where it is easier to get in with a rifle than a guitar!' He holds a relaxed friendly banter with his audience.

Noakes gets to the heart of songs in a real and natural unaffected way. He is a massive Dylan fan and this came over in his interpretations and mood of the songs. It was good to hear him sing the Twa Corbies; his Michael Marra song and his other cover song choices.
SONGS tonight:
Out of Sight, It Happened All The Same, I’m Walkin Here, Branch, Goodbye Blues, Where Dead Voices Gather, Your Clear White Light, Standing Up (Blue Nile song), Slipping Away, Roll on Saturday, Highway 61, Hard Cash The Guernsey Kitchen Porter (Michael Marra song), The Twa Corbies, Mindful, By the Day, Dynamite (Cliff Richards song) Don’t Say Money Doesn’t Matter, Mississippi (Bob Dylan song)

I'm a fan of Rab's older songs …but his new material steps things up several notches and there are many classics in his newer songs. 
His song evolution is interesting and his song writing has evolved and deepened with more subtle undertones and story-filled lyrics. From his Americana and rock n' roll country blues, to his east coast Fife influences - they are all here.

I strongly recommend the new album for the song quality and the live one take recording standard. Rab's music challenges in a subtle way and his songs gets under your skin along with his melodic quality guitar playing and vocal expressions. 

Noake's NEW ALBUM has the title I'm Walkin Here - based on the Dustin Hoffman film midnight Cowboy when Hoffman says to a taxi driver , I'm Walkin Here'  - and has collaborations with Barbara Dickson, Roddy Hart, Jill Jackson, Jimmie Macgregor, Alice Marra, Emma Pollock, and more.  This is a 2 CD - one with new material the other with older songs.

Noakes was ably supported by guitarist and songwriter Rowan Ross.

Noakes is a Scottish singer songwriter who played with Stealers Wheel with Gerry Rafferty and also with Lindisfarne.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Celtic 2016 Review

Blazin Fiddles

Now another #ccfest is over for another year. I've walked to the venues, tapped my foot many times, clapped with enthusiasm and been on warm tides of musical pleasures! 
I reflect and am sad too now it is over.  

While the core of the festival is around folk traditions it also welcomes and incorporates world music, indie, country, bluegrass, contemporary and is on an international scale..

New Scottish artists – Karine Polwart, Idlewild, Chvrches, C Duncan, Lau, Braebach, Rura, Rachel Sermanni, Kathryn Joseph.
Jerry Douglas at Transatlantic Sessions 2016
The festival reaches out to encourage both collaborations and new talent. 

The Danny Kyle Open Stage encourages new talent –  Rura, Rachel Sermanni, Gennessee, Karine Polwart and many others - have been discovered there; Also the Showcase Scotland which attracts industry people worldwide. And the Celtic education program brought in school to several concerts.

**The Danny Kyle Open Stage WINNERS 2016 - Bella and The Bear; Quick; Northern Company; Ross Miller & Charlie Stewart; Charly Houston; Bella Gaffney.

RURA and the Canadian East Pointers
I’ve enjoyed top class fiddle bands, beautiful singing, quality tunes, excellent musicians.

Joe Newberry
Cara Dillon

My concerts this year included –
Opening concert Celebrating 50 years TSMA, Traditional Scottish Music Assoc; Ireland 2016 with The Chieftains; Pilgrimer Re-imagining Joni MItchell's Hejira; Lucinda Williams; John Grant & Rachel Sermanni; RURA; Blazin Fiddle; Transatlantic Sessions.

Stand outs in 2016 were the singers Rhiannon Giddens and Cara Dillon, the young band Rura, the quality Transatlantic Sessions, the character of Lucinda Williams, the fun at the Irish concert.

I attend concerts for the music I hope I will enjoy and for new artists I've not heard before. 
A big thanks for all at the Press office for all their kind assistance!


18 days of concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, workshops, free events, late night sessions and a host of special one-off musical collaborations
“Celtic Connections brings together musicians from across the world for a celebration of musical traditions, the best of contemporary folk and world music, and the ways in which different musical cultures interweave and inspire and, always, entertain.

  “The expertise and skill that drives Celtic Connections also shines through in a education programme that benefits thousands of children across Glasgow and Scotland. Invaluable opportunities enrich lives and offer chances to learn, to enjoy, to be part of the always unique, always brilliant musical happening which is Celtic Connections.”

Blazin Fiddles

Monday, 15 February 2016

The Danny Kyle Open Stage at Celtic Connections 2016

Dosca who were highly commended
The Danny Kyle Open Stage encourages new talent –  Rura, Rachel Sermanni, Gennesse, Karine Polwart and many others - have been discovered there. Also the Showcase Scotland which attracts industry people worldwide. And the Celtic education program brought in schools to several concerts.

Some photos of this years Open Stage - which is great fun and often some outstanding musicians here. It runs from 5 to 7 every day and is FREE! 

The Danny Kyle Open Stage WINNERS 2016 - Bella and The Bear; Quick; Northern Company; Ross Miller & Charlie Stewart; Charly Houston; Bella Gaffney.

Celtic Connections also runs over its weekends The Festival Club and the Late Sessions at the Drygate. 

Braebach at the Late Sessions
ALSO the excellent Elephant Sessions who supported Blazin Fiddles

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Transatlantic Sessions 2016

Diversity, excellence, harmony, quality voices, top musicianship.
This is my ninth year of Transatlantic Sessions. I enjoy a seat in the front stalls of the concert hall and it feels like being transported on an escapist, joyous musical journey. This year the stage had a textured blue backdrop adorned with yellow lights – and along with the cream of Scottish and American folk music talent that confirms this concert as being the jewel in the crown of  ccfest.
Karen Matheson
Joe Newberry
The TS concerts vary – some are full of that joie de vivre so hard to describe; some are more escapist; some are poignant, some are full of perfect singing and instrumental solos; some are a subtle mix of emotions and hitting the right tone – and some combine all of these elements.There is the quality of musicianship and instruments, along with the depth and assuredness of a supreme band that all blend together to produce the perfect balance.

For tonight’s concert we had a truly high calibre of singers with Rhiannon Giddens, Karen Matheson, Cara Dillon, The Milk Carton Kids, Joe Newberry with their contrasting vocal styles.

Appalachian music came to Glasgow in the form of musician and songwriter Joe Newberry from North Carolina. 
Beautiful Gaelic singer Karen Matheson sang the emotional favourite Burns song Ca the Yowes. Karen has released her fourth solo album Urram.

With her warm, natural acoustic Irish voice Cara Dillon sang  Bright River Line and a memorable unaccompanied song The Winding River Roe. 
Milk Carton Kids from the American west coast sang perfect Everly Brothers style harmonies and played a light style bluegrass song. They also performed a unique Pink Floyd’s, Wish You Were Here.

Aly Bain
Jerry Douglas
We were treated to fine tunes written by Scottish musician Phil Cunningham - played by himself and his long term partner the accomplished Shetland fiddle of Aly Bain. Bain always makes his skill look so comfortable and so easy! Also the quality tunes from violinist John McCusker and the talented Michael McGoldrick on flute and Northumbrian pipes.

Cara Dillon

*A highlight of the night had to be gospel soul and opera singer Rhiannon Giddens who brought the first half to a dramatic conclusion. She sang of spiritual heartbreak with her powerhouse, absorbing voice with her unusual dynamic and energy. In her red dress she smiled and danced as she waved her arms wide.
Her personal history is an unusual mix of southern families – of African-American, Native-American and European-American.

She spoke of the importance history of the songs and she gave a powerful interpretation of an Odetta song, of the 1855 civil war and slavery She's Got You and also Black is the Colour. Her first solo album Tomorrow is My Turn has been receiving rave reviews. She sings with the band the Chocolate Drops. 

I remember visiting the Smoky Mountains - we stopped at an old ruined township and took time to visit the graveyard where we noticed so many were Scottish names and many were very young, Life was tough for many of the original pioneers here. The Scottish stories and music travelled with them over 200 years ago and our ties to America are strong ones. 
Highlights are also the singing with such a quality band!  The Transatlantic band 2016  - Aly Bain, Jerry Douglas, Phil Cunningham, Danny Thompson, Russ Barenberg, Mike McGoldrick, John Doyle, John McCusker, James Mackintosh and Donald Shaw. 
Transatlantic Sessions Photos -


ALL - tune Fortingall

Karen Metheson -  Ci an Fhidil & Ca the Yowes

Cara Dillon -  Bright Morning Star & The Winding River Roe

Joe Newberry -  Cherry River Line &   I Know Those Tears

Russ Barenburg - The Talking      

Rhiannon Giddens  -  She's Got You &  Black is the Colour

John Doyle -   Know My Love

Milk Carton Kids -  Wish You Were Here   

John McCusker - Opening Tune

ENCORE - It Ain't Easy  - All Singers
             Boys of 25/Glass of Beer

Friday, 5 February 2016

Blazin Fiddles were on fire at #ccfest

Blazin fiddles are an accomplished and richly diverse fiddle band who produce a well honed and balanced sound.... There was tight interplay, interwoven tunes with plenty of foot tapping and stomping. Their reels flow in crashing and resolution waves.  

Blazin Fiddles are -  Angus Lyon, Anna Massie, Bruce MacGregor, Jenna Reid, Kristan Harvey and Rua Macmillan.
Excellent tunes and musicality. Most enjoyable. 

Blazin' Fiddles came together not as a band but as a one-off project for the Highland Festival in 1998 - to showcase the particular styles and voices of the Highlands and Islands' fiddle. What started out as a few tunes played together has resulted in Blazin' Fiddles becoming one of the most exciting and talked about folk bands in the country.