Showing posts with label Celtic Connections 2020. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Celtic Connections 2020. Show all posts

Thursday 5 March 2020

REVIEW Celtic Connections 2020

I always look forward to this very special folk, roots and world winter music festival, which offers a great start each year and is one of the highlights of my year. The central hub is the Glasgow concert hall, with its 5 venues spaces which comes alive to the sounds of pipes, whistles, song and those foot-stomping reels! 

This is also very much an international festival with musicians and visitors coming worldwide. For the 18 days of the festival take over Glasgow venues. This year the festival twinned with Finland. 

Celtic Music Radio is the place to hear the Danny Kyle stage open mic performers. This takes place each day 5 – 7pm at the concert hall. This year I heard finalists Muckle Spree and John Edge and the Kings of Nowhere.

On the first weekend there was a festival within the festival - Coastal Connections celebrating the vast and scenically majestic Scottish coastlines and islands. For the price of one ticket we were treated to many top performers – Tiree based Skerryvore, from the West Highlands Diamh, from Oban Capercaillie and from Orkney’s Fara.  A dramatic 10 metre sea goddess puppet made from reeds and named STORM, walked from the Clyde to the concert hall. 

For the opening night concert the unique GRIT orchestra performed the Declaration – with 6 new compositions commissioned to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath. As well as some of ever popular Martyn Bennet’s music.  

The Auld Lang Syne concert celebrated our great Scots bard Robert Burns, at the Glasgow concert hall when his songs were performed by Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson, Shona Donaldson and all were on top form. I was impressed by Jarlath Henderson, piper, composer and singer from Ireland.

GRIT orchestra the Declaration
Auld Lang Syne

I also enjoy the atmospheric Old Fruitmarket venue and this year saw This Caledonian Soul hosted by Blue Rose Code and his top soul band. His biggest influences are John Martyn and  he performed the song Fine Lines and a new song from his upcoming album. I’m a fan, and I highly recommend his albums.

Blue Rose Code, Caledonian Soul

Julie Fowlis

Rachel Sermanni

Plus the Scottish National Orchestra who performed Scottish composer, pianist, harpist Phamie Gow, composition Lammermuir, along with musicians Jarlath Henderson, Alasdair Fraser, Mairi Campbell.

To top all this I enjoyed the excellence of  the Transatlantic Sessions band with guest singers– Americans Cahelen Morrison, Sierra Hull; Irish Cathy Jordan and Scots singers Rachel Sermanni. Other highlights included – Cherish the Ladies, Roaming Roots Revue, Phil Cunningham’s 60th, Salsa Celtica, Blazin Fiddles and much more.
Celtic Connections festival supports new artists –  with workshops, the open stage, and the
Scottish Showcase – with over 200 delegates from 23 countries.

Karen Matheson

Transatlantic Sessions 2020
The arts bring us together. Celtic connections is a class example of music crossing boundaries. There is mainstream pop – then there is the craft, heritage and depth of making of the live folk songs. It inspired Bob Dylan to do something more authentic. .

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. 

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. Karen 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 by the way). 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 impressed 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.

**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

Friday 31 January 2020

Auld Lang Syne Concert -Celtic Connections 2020

What an excellent concert!
With a top line up of singers backed by the quality playing of the Scottish chamber orchestra and house band, consisting of Donald Shaw, fiddler John McCusker. The concert was recorded for Radio Scotland. Of course performing the much loved Burns songs with a top orchestra and quality singers was bound to be a winner and everyone was on top form tonight. 

Karen Matheson

Gaelic singer, Karen Matheson began the concert with some of Burns most romantic songs:with her clear, expressive voice and backed by the band and orchestra – Bonnie Jean, Lassie in the Lint White Coat, Ca the Yowes. She also performed a Donald Shaw composition, Let Me Wander. 

Jarlath Henderson

From Northern Ireland, piper and singer Jarlath Henderson, impressed with one of my best loved Burns songs, Westlin Winds. “One of the best songs ever written, it says all there is to say.” quote from folk singer Dick Gaughan (I missed his powerful voice). Henderson also performed one his own compositions and an excellent vocal on, Green Grow the Rashes O.  

Eddi Reader was cheered on stage and she sang – Jamie Come Try Me, Red Red Rose, and Charlie is My Darling - backed by the orchestra. After which Shona Donaldson sang a poignant Highland Widow’s Lament and the Slaves Lament, plus the more upbeat and rhythmic Rattlin Roarin Willie.  

For the grand finale Reader sang her passionate interpretation of Ae Fond Kiss and for a glorious finish with Auld Lang Syne and with the audience on their feet after such an enjoyable night.  

Eddi Reader
I wondered what would it have meant to Burns to have his songs thrill audiences all these years after he wrote them – and all over the world!  I was particularly glad to hear Westlin winds, Slaves Lament, Rattlin Roarin, Green Grow the Rashes O and Ae Fond Kiss, 

Burns was a great romantic poet and wrote some of the world’s greatest love songs -  but also so much more. He cared deeply on many issues – the Rights of Man (and women), his love and caring of nature, keeping Scots traditions alive, song collecting, equality, freedom and democracy. 

He was passionate about his song collecting but he was also a radical and reformer. His heroes from boyhood were freedom fighters. He also wrote one of the world’s best known and loved songs of equality - A Mans a Man for a That, which is sung today all over Europe, Canada and beyond. 

Jarlath Henderson, is an Irish folk musician. He is a  Uilleann piper, guitar, Cittern, low whistle and flute and winner of the BBC Radio 2 Young folk award 2003.