Showing posts with label " celtic connections". Show all posts
Showing posts with label " celtic connections". Show all posts

Tuesday 1 February 2011

RURA at Celtic Connections

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Bob Dylan 'Forever Young Tribute concert' at Celtic Connections festival January 2011

Cast of singers: Thea Gilmore, Josh Rouse, Gemma Hayes, James Grant, Justin Townes Earle, Kris Drever, Rab Noakes, Laura Cantrell,  Hart and his band the Lonesome Fire.  One aspect that draws me to Celtic each year is the interesting collaborations - and this night was certainly one of them. A concert packed with not only talent but the genius that is Mr Bob Dylan.

The Show was introduced by mellow-toned Bob Harris. First up was organiser of this concert Roddy Hart and his band the Lonesome Fire with 'Homesick Blues.'  With thirteen songs each set the concert was certainly pushing the boat out.  (Full set list below, which I hope I got right)  The artists performed songs from several of Dylan's' albums - 'Blood on the Tracks.'  'Nashville Skyline' 'Time Out Of Mind' 'Blonde On Blonde' - with Roddy's band provided a tight backing unit.

*There were several stand out performances -  Scot James Grant's vibrant finale of the first half with a rousing Hendrix version of 'All Along The Watchtower; Scot's veteran Rab Noake's with his character depth and challenging selections of songs -  'Absolutely Sweet Marie' and ' Mississippi;'  American singer Nell Bryden performed a song from Dylan's romantic side, 'Just Like A Woman'; while Thea Gilmore's sang his darker side with 'Masters' Of War' and 'Lay Down your Weary Bones'  - songs that are still as relevant today.
Bryden spoke of how she admired that Dylan's writing often followed this fine line between innocent, fresh, naive and sweet with lilting arpeggios and lyrics that can be so vulnerable - yet at the same time lyrics that were often ironic, strong and dark. 
'I was so much older then I'm younger than that now.'
O'Brien spoke of Alison Krauss asking Dylan to sign his large book of Lyrics - he said that it came in handy for him!  Gilmore spoke of how Dylan often took old folk tunes, and Scottish ones too, and wrote new songs around them (amateurs imitate, professionals steal!)  Some few get the 'heart' of a song and it is not something that can be taught.

Dylan is 'deep' - an often over-used word!  It is not easy to explain in mere words, and only truly though the emotions of art. I guess what it is NOT is about being thin, superficial or fake, and Dylan sees through all that!  That is not what Dylan is about - more than any other artist Dylan is about 'individual voices' and how those voices might work together to create beauty and sometimes miracles.  I only discovered Dylan in recent years after watching Scorcese's illuminating Dylan documentary 'No Direction Home' - and also reading Dylan's brilliant autobiography 'Chronicles'.  I saw Dylan perform with his Highwaymen band at the Glasgow SECC in 2006 - he takes no time to introduce himslef, but simply plays his songs with the band - and I guess he doesn't need to!  His audience was all ages, and all walks of life, and he may be turning 70 this year but he is still on that artistic road.... Words to describe Dylan - substance, elusive, questioning - a true troubadour is one who lives through music and art. Some of his albums (of which there are many and not all are great) are now like old friends of mine. If I need sustenance - he provides; if I need answers - his lyrics inspire and take me home. 
Noakes said that 'Dylan's creative longevity was one of the wonders of the 20th century.'  A concert packed with not only talent but the genius that is Mr Bob Dylan.

'Time is an Ocean it isn't the Show'

Order of Performance - Set List
Roddy Hart - Subterranean homesick Blues
Rab Noakes - 'Absolutely Sweet Marie'
Tim O'Brien (and band) -  'I Ain't Gonna Work on Maggie's Farm no More'
Eddi Reader -  'Buckets of Rain'
Thea Gilmore - 'Lay Down Your Weary Tune' 
Thea Gilmore - 'Masters of War'
Gemma Hayes - 'Times They are a Changing'
Gemma Hayes - 'Most of the Time'
Kris Drever - 'Hard Rain Gonna Fall'
Nell Bryden - 'Just Like a Woman' 
James Grant - All Along The Watchtower'

II Roddy Hart - 'It's Not Dark Yet but It's Getting There'
Josh Rouse - 'The Man in Me'
Josh Rouse - 'Lay Lady Lay '
James Grant - 'Simple Twist of Fate'
Laura Cantrell - 'I Threw it All Away'
Laura Cantrell - 'Mr Tambourine Man' 
Tommy Reilly - 'It Ain't Me Babe'
Gemma Hayes and Roddy Hart - 'Oh Sister'
Rab Noakes - 'Mississippi'
Rab noakes and Thea Gilmore - 'Blowin In the Wind'
Rosanne Cash - 'Licence To Kill' 
Rosanne Cash - 'Girl From The North Country'
Rab Noakes, Tommy Reilly, Gemma Hayes - 'My Back Pages'
Assembled Cast on stage Finale - 'Forever Young'

Roddy Hart- 'Baby Blue'
Assembled Cast on stage - 'I Shall Be Released'
'Like A Rolling Stone'
(This is as accurate a list as I could make without asking for the set list!)   

PKIMAGE Photography -


Tuesday 18 January 2011

'The Burns Unit' Celtic Connections Old Fruitmarket 2011

'The Burns Unit' first debuted at Celtic 2009. I took photos at this gig - and was immediately struck by the diverse colourful nature of the young talents of this Scottish and Canadian eight-piece line-up. From well renowned folk singer songwriter Karine Polwart to Emma Pollock of Delgados fame; to Fife's King Creosote and guitarist AKA pilot to pianist Kim Edgar; to exuberant Canadian Michael Johnston and rapper MC Soom T; and to producer and drummer Mattie Foulds.  I had previously seen Karine perform her emotional acoustic folk songs at several gigs - and to see her pounding those drums ( I assume to initiate her into the rockier rhythms of the band) appeared a big change in direction! 

At first glance it appears a disparate while accomplished group with little in common except their love of music and Celtic roots. However they have brought together a unique blending of influences to produce challenging and interesting songs, and they appear to enjoy their musical collaborationsDuring their set the mood altered from mainly folk/rock to the dancing Caribbean-tinged rhythms of singer MC Soom T very catchy numbers. 
The Old Fruitmarket is full of old-world charms and the perfect venue for this kind of line-up and they appeared more relaxed together. The stand out performances were from singer songwriters Emma Pollock and King Creosote - along with strong vocal harmoniesKarine performed some of her touching and sincere acoustic guitar songs.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Danny Thompson and Friends Old Fruitmarket 30th January 2010

Renowned bass player Thompson introduced an all-star line up that included - Darrell Scott, Luka Bloom, Donald Shaw, Michael McGoldrick, Eddi Reader, Martin Simpson, Mollie O'Brien, and Tim O'Brien. They each recalled memories of Martyn and included several of Martyn's best loved songs, finishing with his best known , May You Never. This concert was part of the Celtic Connections festival and a tribute to John Martyn who died in January 2009. Thompson came out firstly for a short bass solo centre stage. He is known best as a double bassist, who over his long career has played with among others, respected folk/rock musicians Richard Thompson, Gerry Rafferty and John Martyn. Thompson has played with nearly every major artist all over the world, over his fifty five year career. He received a Lifetime achievement award in the 2007 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. One aspect that I enjoy at the Celtic festival is the artists collaborating, and its clear how much fun they were all having working with each other on stage at this gig. Many of the artists at this gig and others, talked about their writing with other artists, and being inspired by them. In this world it is the norm to co-write or cover others songs.

**Celtic Connections 2010

This year I went to more eclectic or world music shows. In fact, looking at the brochure it can be hard to find the authentic Scottish roots music. It can be a funding thing also - as inclusion and world music are the big buzz words.
I attended a to a few 'Open Mic' sessions/The Danny Kyle Stage. These are held each day at 5pm at the Royal Concert Hall - and have a packed audience and the standard is very high. This is the place for new talent and to get a support slot at Celtic. The first day I was there, there was a beautiful dark haired violinist from France who had travelled especially to Glasgow for the open mic. On Thursday a young girl singer called Rachel Sermanni caught my attention there when I stopped in briefly. I found out that she has been working with none other than respected song writer Boo Heredine for her first album and Liz (who introduces the open mic) said this girl is going places - I thought so too.

My highlights at Celtic this year were -
Fyfe Dangerfield ABC 16th Jan 2010 - Dangerfield stormed the ABC Glasgow with his latest solo album 'Yellow Moon'. He is a vibrant, energetic and expressive performer.There were shades of the Beatles and other musical influences here. Fyfe is also the leader of the pop alternative band the Guillemots.
Kirsty McGee & the Hobopop Collective, Classic Grande January 16th 2010 - for an evening of new folk traditions Live album No 5. - Kirsty McGee sings in several styles - roots, Americana, jazz and blues. She has a soothing and engrossing vocal as she sings her hopeful love songs.
Thursday the Old Fruitmarket - The Low Anthem from New York State. There is 'lots' of space and freeness in their music. They made me think of hippies and various influences from Conor Obrest, The Shins to the Eagles.
Danny Thompson the Old Fruitmarket - Renowned double bass player Thompson introduced an all-star line up that included - Darrell Scott, Luka Bloom, Donald Shaw, Michael McGoldrick, Eddi Reader, Martin Simpson, Mollie O'Brien, and Tim O'Brien. This was a quality and stately gig - and uplifting and heartfelt by the performers.
The Transatlantic Sessions Celtic Connections 2010 - Royal Concert Hall 31st January 2010. The standard of all the artists involved is extremely high, and includes the top Celtic and Americana artists - including - Michael McGoldrick (flute), James Mackintosh (drums, Donald Shaw (piano), Danny Thompson (double bass), John Doyle (guitar), Russ Barenberg (guitar), Bruce Molsky (fiddle), Tim O’Brien (banjo), Sara Watkins (fiddle), Dan Tyminski (guitar and mandolin) - and the musical directors Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas. Then the lady singers were introduced - Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson and Cara Dillon. A heart-warming, emotional quality concert. Later we stopped at the Late Sessions and heard the winner of the BBC2's Young Folk Musician 2009 played. He had the audience clapping enthusiastically.

Collaborations - One aspect that I enjoy at Celtic is the artists collaborating and it is obvious how much fun they have on stage (presumably backstage too!). Many of the artists at the gigs spoke about their writing with other artists and being inspired by them. In the folk world it is the norm to co-write or cover others songs.

It is worth tasting the buzz of it especially over the final weekend. I know how much I got from the folk festivals in my twenties and it was an enormous eye opener about music and so very different to the pop/rock music worlds. It is more organic and the influence of the huge media conglomerates is less obvious. There are many younger artists here who are not at all about the stuffy folk image and their music expresses many genres and cultures. For example - Laura Veirs from Canada, Fyfe Dangerfield (of the alterative band the Guillemots), Speed Camera from Algiers, Hobopop Collective from Manchester and The Low Anthem from New York State. My twenty year old musician son, who plays in a rock band, came some Celtic gigs with me and I am now hopeful that not all young people view folk music as 'stuffy' or mainly for older people!

This was the 17th year and another successful one for the festival. I notice my photos change each year - I am not sure if it is me improving or the festival changing. I had a wonderful couple of weeks of music from such a wide variety of places, cultures and influences. 
Big thanks to all involved, and especially the many talented artists and their music. Celtic Connections gigs 2010 - Laura Veirs, Hobopop Collective, Fyfe Dangerfield, Stornaway, Beth Nielsen Chapman, The Future Trad, Angelique Kidjo, Speed Caravan, Gypsy Kings and Queens, Justin Adams and Juldeh Camera, Bellevue Rendezvous, Catriona MacDonald, The Low Anthem, Danny Thompson, Rachel Harrington, Diana Jones, The Transatlantic Sessions with Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain.

Thursday 8 April 2010

The Low Anthem, the Old FruitMarket 28th January 2010

Haunting and even spiritual - they play their music with flexible bass and lots of space. Their lead singer has one of those perfect high tenor voices. They describe their music as Alternative or folk rock. The Low Anthem played their enriching Americana and minimalist rock to an appreciative audience at the Old Fruitmarket Glasgow. The band consists of Ben Knox Miller, a folk musician, Jeff Prystowsky, a jazz bassist and composer Jocie Adams.

They played tracks from their third self-released album, 2008's Oh My God, Charlie Darwin. This album was named Album of the Month by Uncut and was also nominated for the 2009 Uncut Music Award. For me the stand out songs were "Charlie Darwin" " To Ohio" and "Yellowed by the Sun." The band also picked the energy of the set up and performed some jazzier and rockier tunes.

They play around 30 instruments between them – including zither, pump organ, Tibetan singing bowl, trumpet, banjo and clarinet – and have influences such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Tom Waits. To give you an idea the Low Anthem is now travelling with - WWI portable pump organ, harmonium, AJ & HH 29" thunder drum, nipple gong, 3 clarinets, a really big fiddle, E flat marching horn, sizzling set of crotales, electricity aided guitar, rusty saw, accordion, 2 fiddles...and enough harmonicas to summon a swarm of locusts - apparently!

They met at Brown university and the band made me think of hippies and various influences from Connor Obrest, the Shins to the Eagles. I enjoyed the ethereal and atmospheric nature of their live performance - low key yet also uplifting. There was very much a student/indie music crowd at this gig. It was worth seeing them live, and I recommend checking them out.

They were ably supported by Fraser Anderson a singer-songwriter from Edinburgh who is now living in France, and is due to release his third album, 151, in January 2010.

Monday 5 April 2010

Angélique Kidjo Old Fruitmarket Glasgow 21 January 2010

Angélique Kidjo had the Old Fruitmarket dancing on Friday night. Kidjo and her band brought rhythmic delights and the vibrancy of Africa's sun- with songs such as 'Hush Now Child,' several rumba's, and afropop dance tunes. She also sang the song La Petit Fleur with simply bass accompanying her heart-stirring voice. She is known for her wide-ranging musical influences - she mentioned James Brown, Steve Wonder, Santana and Otis Redding. Her musical influences include the Afropop, Caribbean, rumba, jazz, gospel and Latin.

Kidjo is a grammy award winning Beninoise singer-songwriter. She studied at a Jazz school in Paris and she has recorded four albums for Island Records and in 2000 she was signed by Columbia Records. She has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002. She has also recorded songs for movies, Tv and documentaries.

Later during the concert Kidjo danced through the packed audience, and it was surprising to note how tiny she was, as on stage she has a big presence. She then invited around15 audience members up to dance behind her on stage, and along to her drummer's exciting dance beats. An exhilarating and upbeat gig.

Fyfe Dangerfield ABC Glasgow Celtic Connections 20th January 2010

Fyfe was FUN! That's the first thing to say. He really puts so much into his performing. His songs are quality, and he draws from the Beatles, but with is own personality stamped on them. I really enjoyed this gig - from the heartbreak of 'Barricades' to the joy of 'Faster than the Setting Sun'.

Dangerfield stormed the ABC Glasgow as part of the Celtic connections festival with his latest solo album 'Yellow Moon'. He is a vibrant, energetic and expressive performer, who brought the audience with him with fun and interactive chat. This is an album of love songs, that covers all the high euphoria and depths of feeling that the first rush of love can bring. Fyfe plays guitar and also for several songs he had violin strings with him as he played piano. With Fyfe on piano he performed a tear jerker called 'Barricades' which moves the heart with stirring emotions. Other stand out songs were the light guitar song 'Livewire'; the very quiet 'Firebird' that sings of 'that bicycle made for two'; the comforting lyrics of 'my memories ring like telephones' in the sunshine feel of 'She Needs Me'; and the instant feel of 'Don't Be shy' with lyrics such as 'Ask her to sing for you, adore you.'
For the rock song 'Faster than the Setting Sun' Fyfe used a foot pedal and managed a truly tight professional sound.

Wednesday 30 December 2009


I was pleased to see both Cherryholmes and dubro player Jerry Douglas and his band at their Old Fruitmarket gig. After so many Scottish performances it was fun to see and hear the exuberant energy, fearlessness and joy of the road that I hear in American music.

Douglas had several award winning musicians with his band - Luke Bulla on the fiddle, who played with an energetic and fun style; Guthrie Trapp on dynamic and energetic guitar and bassist /composer Victor Krauss on electric cello who all perfectly complimented Jerry’s highly accomplished and engrossing musical style.
I first noted Jerry Douglas backing singer Allison Krauss and thought what an awesome band she had backing her. Jerry plays with total skill and ease producing an entertaining and fun set. Well worth reading his Bio too, a great read!


Celtic Connections festival finishes each year with the Transatlantic Sessions and bringing the songs back home. The theme was about how the Scots and Irish took their songs over to the US and how  the songs came back home again.
The festival always ends with these two sold out concerts. Scottish fiddler Aly Bain and slide guitarist Jerry Douglas invite their friends to join them on stage. The concert included singers from the USA such as the powerful talents of Nancy Griffith, Dan Tyminski, Kathie Mattau - and from Scotland the clear perfect voices of Eddi Reader and Julie Fowlis, The cast of top musicians performed songs such as Hey Joe and Dylan’s Man of Constant Sorrow. We are reminded of the strong ties between America and Scotland.
Kathie Mattaau performed John Martyn’s ‘May You Never’ as a tribute to him. John died on January 29th. One of Glasgow’s great sons - Martyn performed with both Kathie and Jerry Douglas at the first ever Transatlantic Sessions back in 1995.


Provided a fun party sound. This band work in pairs with a great deal of synergy and energy and ran seamlessly through their set. Many were dancing and I enjoyed their gig enormously.
Julie Fowlis and Kath McInnes joined them on stage for several numbers. On the left were the rich brass section behind the fun rhythms and on the right the emotive Celtic sounds (fiddle, banjo, accordion, pipes) while in front were the two colourful lead singers who danced in perfect rhythm together. There was lots of colour and they blew those winter chills away with their hot, hot sound! The unique combination of sounds works. They clearly enjoyed themselves and had great rapport with the audience. There was movement, vibrant colour, smooth rhythm and positive energy.  They finished the gig with a rumba conga line through the audience. We could have partied all night!

Celtic Connections Review 2009

This 3 week festival in the heart of Glasgow is one of the music and folk calendars biggest events and plays on a world stage, with visitors from around the world. I had a wonderful time taking shots at the Celtic Connections this year and I enjoyed the festival more than last year.  There was a great line-up and variety/breadth of artists and it was good to hear new things being ventured by the younger artists such as with the 'Burns Unit' with Karine Polwart - sometimes things intersect? Well done to all involved.  The festival raises the profile of Scottish musicians and artists worldwide with a gathering of some of the best Scottish musical talent. It also encourages new artists and collaborations as well as bringing over many well-respected artists from around the world.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Karine Polwart! Tall Ship Gig June 2008

Tall Ship Gig Karine Inge Kirsty and Mat magic evening -  Karine Polwart! I had a chat with Karine. She writes brilliant songs –and has a wonderful voice. One of the best. She keeps it simple. Also Kirsty & Mat Martin wonderful fun young duo who do acoustic blues-jazz tunes. After the gig the sky was the most perfect deep blue, the street lights like fairy lights, the moon a tiny sliver. It was light a dream or like a Picture book cover.

*Karine is an astute, caring and thoughtful writer of memorable tunes. Her songs, with their direct yet careful simplicity hit home with her clear unaffected soothing tones. Karine has an engaging voice. She sang songs from her wonderful new album – ‘This Earthly Spell’ – Firethief ‘down where I cannot go’ , ‘Rivers Run’ and the touching ‘Sorry.’ Karine sang a song ‘ Bonecrusher’ that she said she had written for her favourite Tv series Deadwood. She also sang 2 of my favourites ‘ Daisy (‘There are people in this world who don’t think like you do.’) and the moving Hole in my Heart. Karine finished her set with a haunting lullaby songs ‘Beow’ which means ‘Alive’.  Her music has joyful moving directness and sincerity. As Karine’s sings - ‘hearts can sing.’ Thank you guys for such a memorable evening.

Celtic Connections Glasgow 2008

I had an amazing few weeks at the 'Celtic Connections' traditional music festival here in Glasgow. It's massive - with workshops, concerts, clubs, a multitude of venues...more, for 3 weeks. Met many other photographers, felt overwhelmed, and had much fun. Some amazing singers, poets, artists, musicians from all over the world. Been busy editing my Celtic photos.

One of the world's biggest traditional folk festivals, Celtic Connections is in it's 13th year, and attracts musicians and visitors worldwide. It is jammed full of outstanding musicians and singers. The opening concert at the Royal Concert Hall is a showcase for the artists. It is good to see the many young artists excited to be playing here. The festival embraces many musical styles - bluegrass, country, classical, Blues, jazz, Celtic, world and more. Artists range from Scottish traditional singer Dick Gaughan (a Scottish legend) to 90s band Teenage Fanclub.  I enjoyed some younger artists also.

In particular Kirsty McGee Hobopop Collective who were supporting Capercaille – a new band with Mat Martin and the bluesy rhythms of Nick Blacka on double bass and tight with Rob Turner on drums. They do a mix of laid back jazz-infused acoustic tunes. I had no idea this was their debut gig, but I felt an energy and excitement and got some top photos. They had Karine Polwart, Inge and Annie all singing backing vocals on their last few songs, impressive! (Photos never lie!) They are a live project around Kirsty's Songs, check them out. The festival also focuses on traditional folk and new Scottish talent, with Showcase Scotland which is held over five days.

Favourite artists for me were (this isn't easy after hearing so many!) - the fun Scottish ceilidh band Session A9 who got the dance floor hopping;  Joan Osbourne from the US rich vocals; Karen Mathieson's haunting Gaelic voice; the top band at the TransAtlantic Sessions; the excitement of the Common Ground concert; Kristy McGee and Mat Martin Hobopo Collective (impressed with this new band's debut gig re my photos).
Sold out events included – Steve Earle, KD Lang, Teenage Fanclub, Peatbog Faueries, Capercaille, Dick Gaughan's 60th.

I had a wonderful time at the Celtic Connections festival and I saw many quality artists. Some artists do one or two reasonable songs and then struggle to produce anything nearly as good for years and years. What matters here is having momentum rather than consistency. A few singers have voices that make you sit up and notice, that grab you deep inside.'  Over 19 days, more than 300 events, 14 venues, over 1,000 artists.
Celtic Connections Opening Concert "Common Ground", Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Main Auditorium 2008 and with festival artistic director Donald Shaw on piano. The 17 piece band took over the main stage to open the 15th annual celebration of folk, roots and traditional music - and a showcase for young Scots and Irish folk musicians.
Singers performed songs with American Chris Thile on mandolin who performed with plenty of character. Scots singers were,  Karine Polwart, Kris Drever from the Orkneys, Mike Scott (The Waterboys), Julie Fowlis, James Mackintosh and Ewen Vernal. Karine Polwart, with her clear beautiful voice sang a traditional air.

Also Irish performers - Heidi Tolboot, Sharon Shannon, Luka Bloom, Damien Dempsey, Karan Casey, Michael McGoldrick and Jim Murray. Karan Casey sang unaccompanied and beautiful harmonies with Julie Foulis. She sang 'Washed up on a Distant Shore'. By contrast Damien Dempsey was a big guy with a booming voice over the packed audience. Irish singers have a grounding introducing their songs with quick wit down at their local pubs!

Kate Rusby sang John Barberry and High on the hill - she has a still presence and a clear stirring voice. For their encore the band, led by violinist John McCusker, performed 'Will Ye No Come Back Again' to an Irish Air.
There were perhaps too many reels for an audience bound to sit in their seats! There was plenty of vivid colours to entertain, from the deep reds to the moving blues. It was fun to see so many artists perform on the one stage in this casual, well rehearsed jam session, and it was clear how much of music, or any art, is about the 'personality'.