Wednesday 31 January 2018

Session A9 Celtic Connections

An entertaining night!
Session A9 are a multi-talented band led by fiddler Charlie Mckerron, who played striking music with four top fiddlers.

They played slow airs, songs, reel and jigs, with often times feet dancing rhythms and bows swinging with a powerhouse dynamism! They also played tunes with slow, melancholy, contemplative violin.

Fiddler Adam Sutherland spoke of his tune which was commissioned for New Voices in 2004. The band played a tune by Ross Ainslie, and also new tunes Charlie Mckerron. Meanwhile guitarist Marc Clement sang a couple country folk songs – ‘These Days’, and ‘Take away the Well So deep.’

This band have funny craic and banter with each other. Brian spoke of the 25 years of Celtic tradition and culture, to sell our culture on and how its amazing what the festival has achieved. He offered a big thanks to all involved with putting on the festival and all the work behind the scenes. He spoke of the scope and breadth of the festival and he wondered where the festival might be in another 25 years time!

For their encore the band performed the fitting song ‘One for the Road’ 

The players consisted of – Charlie Mckerron (fiddle), Gordon Gunn (fiddle & Mandolin), Adam Sutherland (fiddle), Kevin Henderson (fiddle), Brian McAlpine (piano), David Robertson (percussion), Marc Clement (guitar & vocals)

Session A9 played a residency at Epcot and celebrated their first decade with the  album Paths That Wind. They were voted 'Best Live Act 2012' at the Scottish Trad Awards

Max Richter at Celtic Connections 2018

A night to remember!
Max Richter, renowned composer for stage and screen, performed his eighth album of classical and electronic sound, Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works (2017) at Celtic Connections 2018.

The music is from the score that Richter composed for the ballet Woolf Works in collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGregor and includes a recording of Virginia Woolf’s voice. The work follows a three-part structure offering evocations of three books by Woolf (Mrs Dalloway, Orlando, and The Waves).

Richter played on piano and electronic keys along with the world class Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) at Glasgow concert hall. There were slow, nurturing bass lines along with a repeating piano melancholy, questioning violin, pondering cello and electronic beats. 
Then a violin menace as danger lurks, electronica beats too and a plaintive solitary cello repeated the forlorn melody. A sad xylophone played slow notes to release the tension, let it fly and brought us back to a more hopeful sound. 

 A bell tolled as we heard Woolf’s hesitant and strange voice speak of her memories, before she gave up words and life, ‘No one could have been happier.’ Then the poignant piano melody returned with waves in the background. And after in a powerful moment, there were mournful crescendos with the haunting soprano voice of Grace Davidson.

His music is at times pioneering, aching, immersive and searching for resolutions. The stage was lit over the performance with a flow of colours from soft purple to deep reds. For a Reprise Richter performed a short piece entitled ‘On the Nature of Daylight’.  A truly memorable concert. The performance was opened by harpist Catriona McKay and Alastair MacDonald with tales of Scottish times past.

Review and Photos by Pauline Keightley -
Richter is a British composer post-minimalist with contemporary and alternative musical styles with films such as Testament of Youth, Arrival, Miss Sloane.
**Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works (2017Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works is Max Richter’s eighth album, released in January 2017. The music is taken from the score that Richter composed for the ballet Woolf Works in collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGregor at the royal Opera House in London. The work follows a three-part structure offering evocations of three books by Woolf (Mrs DallowayOrlando, and The Waves). The album features classical and electronic sound as well as an original voice recording of Virginia Woolf herself.

Shawn Colvin Celtic Connections 2018

 Shawn Colvin, is a Grammy award-winning American singer-songwriter, best known for her 1996 platinum album, A Few Small Repairs and her song ‘Sunny Came Home’.
The concert was opened by a welcoming and accomplished duo from Colvin’s band, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams.
Colvin is celebrating 20 years since the success of her Few Small Repairs album with a full band concert at Celtic Connections festival and the re-release of a newly expanded album edition.

Tonight she performed the songs from the album along with other fan favourites such as ‘Diamond in the Rough’. There were several stand out songs, ‘You and Mona Lisa’, ‘Simple Truth’, ‘Wichita Skyline’, ‘Nothin On Me’, ‘Suicide Alley’ ‘New Thing Now’ and ‘I’ll Be Back.’
She also stripped it back to only her voice and piano on a couple of songs. At one point she spoke of her lyric book. She sang a four songs encore encouraged by fans applause.

An enjoyable, quality concert. She sang of heartbreak and enduring and her sound elegantly mixes country, pop and contemporary. Colvin is an engrossing, subtle songstress with immersive and sensitive songs and voice.
Shawn Colvin is the recipient of the Americana Music Association’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement Trailblazer Award,

A Few Small Repairs SONGS: Sunny Came Home, Get Out of This House, The Facts About Jimmy,  You and the Mona Lisa, I Want it Back, If I Were Brave, Wichita Skyline, 84,000 Different Delusions, Suicide Alley, What I Get Paid For, New Thing Now, Nothin On M.   -

Saturday 27 January 2018

Opening 25th Celtic Connections concert 2018

The Celtic Connections Opening concert was organised by pianist Dave Milligan, one of the 1994 performers, to celebrate the world biggest folk, world and roots festival 25th  Anniversary - with a packed line up of the quality and breadth offered by the festival. 
Maya Youssef

The line up included - *Pipers Turst; Saltfishforty who had flown down from Orkney, Siobhan Miller, sang Quiet Grave, winner of Traditional singer; Michael McGoldrick Trio; Louis Abbott, singer Admiral Fallow; Maya Youssef, from Syria; The String Sisters; Far Far from Ypres with Ian McCalman;
Second set – *Festival favourites Cherish the Ladies; Drever McCusker Woomble; Sian Shian, singers from Highlands and Islands; Sharat Chandra Srivastava and Gyan Singh; Sharon Shannon, Irish accordionist; Eddie Reader, Scottish singer; Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton. Scottish pipers.  
Sharon Shannon

Collaborations lift us higher – whether with the great artists of the past or in the present time with other creatives. One thing is the ‘buzz’ that surrounds a top festival; from the foot soldiers laying out the equipment, the seating, the lights, the sound equipment, the instruments; to the Press Office – reviewers, photographers, bloggers, the managers, organisers; to the session rehearsals, sound checks and the spontaneity. From behind the scenes to the front of house, all hope to perform at their best. Festivals are a celebration of the best talent.
Cherish the Ladies
Ross Ainslie and Ali Hutton
**The house band included drums, double bass, brass and guitars. 
For the grand finale we were treated to the entire ensemble of musicians and singers onstage for a rousing jam session! 
Eddi Raeder

The concert had haunting harmonies, excellent band line ups and quality song interpretations.
This concert held the promise of the future and also some footsteps past. The festival gives young talent a stage and many spoke of how they got their starts here and how the festival brought them together.

Back in 1994, few could have foreseen how the festival would grow – it now has over 2000 artists, in 300 events at 20 venues over the 19 days of the festival. And includes Showcase Scotland, Danny Kyles open stage, late sessions, festival club, and more. I was able to shoot the entire concert and obtain a rich tapestry of this vibrant festival.

Congratulations to director Donald Shaw and the many who work to pull the festival together! To delve the traditions and push the boundaries.

Far Far from Ypres

Friday 19 January 2018

Jacobites: Myth and Legend

Bonnie Prince Charlie held court in Holyrood for a brief moment 

The last of the Stuarts. Three Jacobite Kings buried St Peters Basilica Rome. One dynasty, two courts. Three kingdoms. Four Jacobite kings. Five Jacobite challenges. Through the mists of time, romance, place, beliefs, tragedy…. I visited the excellent Jacobite exhibition at the Scottish National Museum. 

*Union of the Crowns  - 1603
James VI became King of England, Ireland and Scotland.
Gunpowder plot 1605
Charles I crowned 1633 - 1649
Covenanters 1638
Charles I executed 1649
Roundheads and Cavaliers. Cromwell. – Lord Protector 1653.
Charles II – crowned 1660 - 1685.
James VII 1685 – 1689
Bonnie Dundee
Mary of Modena

I was reading of our history over the past centuries – of our close ties, trade and involvement with Europe – well before the EU and well before the1603 Union of the Crowns.
If you read the monarchy entanglement over that century and into the 18th century, what a tangled web of intrigue, plotting, alliances, religion, war, deceit, royal marriage There were Roundheads and Cavaliers, Cromwell, 11 years of revolution and over thrown monarchy, Charles I executed, Bonnie Dundee, Jacobites challenges. 

Most histories are written by the victor and this is far crazier than any Game of Thrones!
King James VII
Basically(?)  William and Mary, and later Queen Ann (who were daughters of James VII first marriage) had no surviving children, and to have a Protestant monarch, the English parliament sent for George of Hanover (1714) – a descendent of James VI’s daughter). This meant the Stuarts (who had ruled in Scotland for 300 years) and that King James VII was the last Catholic monarch.
James Francis Edward
The wars were over religion and power in Europe. There was the alliance of the Dutch and English navys. Bonnie Prince Charlie held court in Holyrood for a brief moment in September 1745. Its’ a tragic story. The Jacobites made it down to Derby, but turned back and were defeated at Culloden.

Back in 18th century the British Establishment committed terrible crimes to protect their selfish interests – such as the massacre of Glencoe, repression of highland culture – the wearing of highland dress was forbidden punishable by imprisonment or transportation.
Then bizarrely in 1844 George IV came up to Edinburgh in a shot kilt and pink stockings! –first monarch to visit in 150 years -  and they would now ‘allow’ the kilt to be worn. It was an insult.

Charles I was the second son of James VI. His son was Charles II.  James VII Scotland and II of England was the last Catholic king of England, Scotland and Ireland. He took over the throne after the death of his brother Charles II. He ruled for 4 years and was over thrown in the Glorious revolution of 1688 when he fled to France. He was replaced by his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange.
James attempted to reclaim his crown in 1689 when he landed in Ireland. The Jacobite forces were defeated by the Williamites at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690.

At the time of Union of the Parliaments in 1707, only about 5% of the Scottish population had a vote. It may have been a kind of union, as back then Scotland had a third of the UK population ! Since then the depopulation and wastage of Scotland resources means Scotland now has 8% of the UK population. Scotland is now a colony ruled from London (even though they have allowed use limited power Scottish parliament)
George IV

*1689 first Jacobite challenge
William and Mary 1659 – 1694
*1689 First Jacobite Challenge,
Viscount (Bonnie) Dundee and Battle of Killiecrankie 1689
Battle of the Boyne 1690
Massacre Glencoe - 1692

*Union of Parliaments – 1707
Ann 1707 – 1714
English Act of Settlement 1701
1704 Scottish (Act of security Scotland ) Articles of Union.
1713 Treaty of Utrecht

* Second Jacobite challenge 1708
GEORGE I crowned - 1714
*1715 Third Jacobite challenge
Battle of Sherriffmuir
* Fourth Jacobite challenge 1719
Rob Roy MacGregor
*Fifth and final 1745 Jacobite challenge, Bonnie Prince Charlie

George VI visit Edinburgh 1822. First monarch in 170 years!
Reformation 16th century.