Saturday, 22 February 2020

Transatlantic Sessions at Celtic Connections 2020



This concert is under the annual musical direction of Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and multi-Grammy-winning dobro maestro Jerry Douglas. This was the 17th live TS edition, begun in 2003. 

What a joyous, positive concert – exploring all the musical contrasts – from upbeat rhythms, perfect harmonies, poignant moments, quality vocals and top musicianship.  Guest artists this year included –  Sierra Hull, American bluegrass musician, Cahalen Morrison, American musician; Tommy Emmanuel, Australian guitarist; Cathy Jordan, Irish singer, lead singer with Dervish; Rachel Sermanni, Scottish singer songwriter.

This was the last TS with Scotland still in the EU. Sadly leaving the great European project has been a devastating experience of many Scots, who view our future in Europe. This gave the evening a surreal feel while I was glad of the distraction. 

All the performers were in good spirits for this their first TS concert this year and the concert hall was packed out with a palpable expectant buzz. This concert is one of the main highlights of the festival and Aly Bain spoke briefly, in his modest way, about how this major folk festival came about.

After some tunes, Cahalen Morrison from Mexico, impressed with powerful vocals; followed by the renowned Irish singer Cathy Jordan, who sang Sliabh Gallon Braes; American bluegrass guitarist and songwriter Sierra Hull was also excellent; after which Rachel Sermanni provided her poignant, clear voice on some of her own songs and also a moving interpretation of Robert Burn’s Ae Fond Kiss.  


There was also top musicianship from guitarist Russ Barenburg; the upbeat, fun energy of the accomplished playing of Australian Tommy Emmanuel; and the talented fiddler John McCusker and piper Michael McGoldlrick

Out of such a glittering line up, it is hard to pick only a few highlights and tonight all stood out!  I did particularly enjoy the moving harmonies of Cathy, Sierra and Rachel, on the song The Old Churchyard: the enthusiasm of Tommy Emmanuel; Phil Cunningham’s tune; Aly Bain’s Shetland fiddle; and the anchor of Jerry Douglas as host and dobro master. They say variety  is the spice of life – I believe celebrating our differences also makes us stronger. Long live such joyful collaborations! 



**The TS 2020 will be touring UK venues. 
The TS band:  Aly Bain, Jerry Douglas, Russ BarenbergPhil CunninghamJohn Doyle Michael McGoldrickJohn McCuskerDonald ShawDaniel Kimbro, James Mackintosh

**After there was a candle vigil on the Buchanan street steps beside the statue of first, first minister of our Scottish parliament, Donald Dewar, where we sang Auld Lang Syne to mark the sadness most Scots feels at being forced to leave the EU. To all our European friends – Keep a light on for Scotland. 


TS GLASGOW 
SET 1 
1. Federals (tunes)
2. My Girl's Heavy, Cahalen Morrison
3. Month of May, Cahalen Morrison  
4. Sliabh Gallon Braes. Cathy Jordan 
5. Tunes : Ack Sterling’s March & Aly Bain Tunes 
6. How Long, Sierra Hull
7. Lullaby, Sierra Hull  
8. Magic Foot , Russ Berenburg
9. Breathe Easy, Rachel Sermanni
10. Ae Fond Kiss, Rachel Sermanni
11. Keepin' It Reel, Tommy Emmanuel
12. I'm On Fire, Tommy Emmanuel

SET 2 
1. Halfway Home, Jerry Douglas & Tommy 
2. Fuel , Tommy Emmanuel, Phil Cunningham
3. Eggshells  Rachel Sermanni
4. What Can I Do, Rachel Sermanni 
5. March/Jigs & Reels, John McCusker and Mike McGoldrick
6. Beautifully Out of Place, Sierra Hull
7. Wealth of Sorrow,  Cahalen Morrison
8. Darling Clemmie,  Phil Cunningham, Mike McGoldrick 
9. Willie Taylor, John Doyle 
10. Sweet Roseanne, Cathy Jordan
11. All the Way Home  ENCORE 
12. Old Churchyard         Cathy/Rachel/Sierra
13. Tunes - Hector? Reconciliation?          Who Cares?
  
**After there was a candle vigil on the Buchanan street steps beside the statue of first, first minister of our Scottish parliament, Donald Dewar, where we sang Auld Lang Syne to mark the sadness most Scots feels at being forced to leave the EU. 
To all our European friends – Keep a light on for Scotland. 


Friday, 14 February 2020

Blue Rose Code: This Is Caledonian Soul, Celtic Connections 2020

 

Blue Rose Code: Caledonian Soul at the Old Fruitmarket as part of Celtic Connections 2020

Tonight was a celebration of outstanding Scottish soul music, covering such Scots artists as the Blue Nile, Boo Hewerdine, Mark Knopfler, Del Amitri, Gerry Rafferty, Lewis Capaldi, Travis, KT Tunstall, Annie Lennox. The concert was hosted by the inimitable and very talented Ross Wilson (aka Blue Rose Code) and he was backed by an accomplished, soul 9-piece band, string quartet and backing vocalists. Plus quality guest vocalists that included – Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson, Robert Vincent.





Wilson began with a crowd-pleasing Del Amitri’s Kiss This Thing Goodbye and Graham Lyle’s What’s Love Got To Do With It. Eddi Reader performed a memorable Patience of Angels by Boo Hewerdine, along with her talented musician husband John Douglas, of the band Trashcan Sinatras.

Karen Matheson sang Mark Knopfler’s Brothers in Arms, with some highly exuberant playing by the rhythm section - plus the Blue Nile’s Happiness, KT Tunstall and Annie Lennox’s, No More I Love You. She had clearly enjoyed getting into the spirit of this collaborative, soul showcase. From Liverpool award-winning country soul singer, Robert Vincent, was on good form and sang a Travis song, Flowers in the Window, and Gerry Rafferty’s well loved Stuck in the Middle With You. As well as Lewis Capaldi’s major recent hit Someone You Love.



One of Ross’s biggest influences is John Martyn and he began the second half with an engrossing Fine Lines (I’d love to hear Solid Air or May you Never). Wilson performed a new song from his up-coming album and a more upbeat version of his song Grateful. And for a grand finale we were treated to Jack Bruce’s Sunshine of Your Love, which had the packed audience on their feet. A heads up too for the excellent funky band. I would have enjoyed also to hear more duets and from emerging new Scots talent.

Keep a light on in these dark days…..  





Wilson draws on both his passion for blues rhythm guitar and the intimacy of folk tunes. His musical heroes include Van Morrison, John Martyn and other soul / folk musicians. I’m a fan! I first heard Ross at my local folk club, which was packed out for his 2 sold out nights there and I was taken with his range, dynamic guitar playing, husky soul-filled voice and the passion of his songs. 


At Edinburgh festival 2018, Ross performed his first This Is Caledonian Soul concert at the Queens hall with a quality line up and well chosen songs.

I like to own my music and support musicians that I admire and I have so enjoyed Ross’s albums. (He also does an excellent version of Davey Steele’s powerful song Scotland Yet.) 
ALBUMS – Ballads of Peckham Rye 2015: Lo, Bird is on the wing, 2016; Live at the Queens Hall 2017; Water of Leith 2019. Plus eps and singles.  https://bluerosecode.com/

**My soul requests! Love to hear Danny Wilson’s Mary’s Prayer; Michael Marra, whose songs paint incredible pictures; Rab Noakes, Renowned Scots singer songwriter who also mixes folk and soul, Gently Does it; Average White band – Pick up the Pieces
 


Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Leave a Light on for Scotland!



After there was a candle vigil against this foolish Brexit

on the Buchanan street steps beside the statue of first, first minister of our Scottish parliament, Donald Dewar, where we sang Auld Lang Syne to mark the sadness most Scots feels at being forced to leave the EU. 

... who will the Tories blame now?