Showing posts with label Celtic Connections 2022. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Celtic Connections 2022. Show all posts

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Niteworks with BBC SSO Celtic Connections 2022


This key concert of Niteworks with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (SSO) was rescheduled from January due to the Covid restrictions, as part of Celtic Connections 2022.

I first heard Niteworks from Skye supporting the Grit orchestra for their Bothy Culture concert at the Hydro, at Celtic Connections music festival in 2018 and was impressed with their music.


What a top class concert. 

Gaelic singers Sian sang perfect and engrossing vocal harmonies. The Gaelic voice offers such a unique experience, with lilting emotion, both soft and poignant. They were backed by Innes White on guitar. Sian means storm or the elements are - Caitlin Lilidh, Ellen MacDonald, Eilidh Cormack (singer year Scots Trad music) and they are supporters of Gaelic song composed by women. 

Kathleen MacInnes

Niteworks worked with composer John Logan and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBC SSO) to create a one off concert with orchestral versions of the Skye band’s genre-bending music, 


Niteworks performed with full on energy - and clearly enjoyed the treat of having the full orchestra, to enrich and complement their sound. The band were joined on stage by a line up of quality singers – Beth Maledin sang a moving interpretation of the English traditional song John Riley, followed by the renowned Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes.

At the front of the stage were a young, dancing and standing audience. An immersive, joyous and highly entertaining evening: 

I enjoyed incredible musicianship, beautiful singers and innovative new compositions!

This young band fuse their Skye influences with contemporary sounds. and draws comparison to innovative piper and composer Martyn Bennet. They mix the Hebridean song traditions and bagpipes with stirring electronic dance rhythms and driving drumbeats. The band have worked with several Gaelic singers and the Kinnaris Quintet and have headlined music festivals.

During the lockdowns the band collaborated on Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Farewell film reflecting  on the pandemic, with the orchestra. This then has had an impact on their music for their new 2022 album A’Ghrian (the sun) with a more expansive and cinematic sound. 



(**This concert was filmed so hoping it will be shown on BBC Scotland)


NEW album A’Ghrian (the sun) is available here



Sunday 27 February 2022

Rura at Celtic Connections 2022


For RURA’s Celtic Connections gig on the final Celtic weekend it was clear the band were glad to be back performing to a live and packed theatre audience. Their past gig in 2020 at their sold-out Old Fruitmarket gig was a rousing and energetic affair, when the band celebrated their ten years together.

Rura are multi-instrumentalists and play keys, pipes, guitar, bass, bohran, flute and drums. The band – Steven Blake (Pipes & Keys), Adam Brown (Acoustic Guitar), David Foley (Bodhran & Flute) and Jack Smedley (Fiddle) – and were joined by James Lindsay (Bass), Mark Scobbie (Kit), Sorren Maclean (Electric Guitar). Plus tonight a String section of Seonaidh Aitken, Megan Henderson (Violins), Pasty Reid (Viola) Alice Allen (Cello); 

Tonight there was a expectant hum in the packed venue. This concert was the launch gig for the band’s new 2022 EP Our Voices Echo, in which they have collaborated with several top talents of the Scottish folk world – Duncan Chisholm, Julie Fowlis, Ross Ainslie, Michael McGoldick, and Hannah Rarity. 

Rura electrified the Theatre Royal Glasgow with their full wall of sound and lively performance led by fiddle player Jack Smedley and dynamic rhythm guitarist Adam Brown. The band began with a set of their tunes from their 2018 In Praise of Home

Fiddle-player Duncan Chisholm who has been popular for offering  his tunes in idyllic settings during Covid, praised the band, saying he had listened to Rura’s Praise of Home during the lockdown and that it had helped him when the going was tough. Chisholm played on the haunting A’ Mhairead Og, followed by a Runrig song Chi Mi’n Geamhradh and Running the Cross, composed by Chisholm. 

Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis sang a poignant Dh’èirich Mi Moch Madainn Cheòthar, backed by soaring flute and fiddle. Michael McGoldrick performed on flute a joyful Famous Last Words (Donald Shaw). Ross Ainslie was upbeat on whistle on Floyd To Ke Anlong and on pipes for Peel Pier Fear, followed by The Wrangler

While rising talent Hannah Rarity brought the cast and audience together for an uplifting grand finale of Take This Heart Of Gold (Andrew Marlin). For the encore the band played Horizons.  

The band are multi-layered and enriching, with fast-paced fiddle, pipes and rhythm guitar, both refined and dynamic, no easy task! Rura is an award-winning, ceilidh band and join the ranks of those top Scottish touring bands. They have appeared on the BBC’s Hogmanay Live and played the main stage at many festivals.  

Sunday 20 February 2022

Transatlantic Sessions at Celtic Connections 2022


The Transatlantic Sessions concert celebrates the important connections between Scots, Irish and American traditional music. Those sometimes forgotten stories of emigration across the rough seas in often small wooden sailing ships, with so many hopes and dreams of building a better life and enjoying democratic freedoms – and they took their old ballads and tunes with them. Sometimes they had no choice. 

And it’s important to remember. 


Fiddler Ali Bain toured in the States, decades back, and after he enjoyed his special collaborations there, he was a part of setting up Celtic Connections 29 years ago in 1994. Normally Celtic Connections welcomes 80 musicians from America – festival director Donald Shaw said, “but due to all the Covid restrictions for this year only five Americans were able to make it across and they are all on stage tonight!” 

Paul Brady

The TS 2022 included veteran, long standing members along with new faces, From the States and US roots music we were treated to the talent of is a Grammy-award winning American singer songwriter Sarah Jarosz. She has a quiet stillness and one of those hypnotic voices that pulls you in. She sang Orange and Blue, Blue Heron, Hometown and Dylan’s Ring them Bell. 

Siobhan Miller

Sarah Jarosz

New faces also included, Haitian-American musician Leyla McCaila sang Merci Mon Dieu with her cello and is an earthy and soulful singer (previously with the band The Carolina Chocolate Drops)  Award-winning and talented Scots singer songwriter Siobhan Miller sang traditional songs May Morning Dew, Honest Man and her own song Drifting and was clearly thrilled to have joined this elite band!


Long standing member Dirk Powell from Kentucky, he is a leading expert of Appalachian music. He performed songs of his family’s inspiring history; Bright Light of Day, Waterdown and Walking Through Clay, He said its important to tell our stories and spoke of his grandfather carving his name on an old tree with his young hopes. 


Popular Irish musician Paul Brady was another highlight and performed a top class show finale when he sang Concert Going, and Harvest time. Followed by a grand finale which was as always of exhilarating Scots tunes. 
A special mention for the talents of the band’s outstanding musicianship, they don’t come any better than this!


Highlights from the wide variety of styles – Dirk Powell’s Waterdown, Sara Jarosz’s vocals along side Douglas’s dubro and Daniel Kimdro on double bass. And of course Ali Bain’s accomplished Shetland fiddle – Phil told how his musical partner Ali, after 35 years playing together, told him how talented he was!

Long may we be treated to such accomplished musicians! I hope there will be some recordings of the Transatlantic sessions to enjoy on YouTube! I highly recommend checking out.  


**The Transatlantic Sessions band is led by musical directors of Shetland fiddle legend Aly Bain, accordion legend Phil Cunningham and dobro genius Jerry Douglas, the line-up includes John DoyleDaniel KimbroMichael McGoldrickJohn McCuskerDonald Shaw and James Mackintosh


“Part melting pot, part jam band. .  spinetingling and rollicking” (The Guardian)


 Dirk Powell is an American fiddler, banjo player from Kentucky and a leading expert of Appalachian music. He has won several Grammys.   

Wednesday 26 January 2022

*Celtic Connections 2022 both in-person and ONLINE!

For the second consecutive year Celtic Connections has had to cancel concerts due to the Coivd pandemic, while some of the festival has been able to go ahead. At the last minute I’ve had messages to tell me that 2 concerts have been re-scheduled for June, I’ve also had tickets refunded, for the opening concert and Vent du Nord, and Rura and Transatlantic Sessions (Feb. 5th and 6th) concerts are going ahead!

Every January its always such a boost to look forward to CC, and gets me through those chill winter nights with concerts full of warmth and joy, poignant ballads, energetic accomplished musicianship and unique collaborations!


Its good some concerts have been rescheduled for June though. 




Celtic Connections is Europe’s biggest winter festival and as well as celebrating Scotland’s rich music traditions, also welcomes international musicians and the strong Celtic links between Breton, Nova Scotia, Ireland, Tennessee, Scandinavia. 

In todays mono-culture of globalization its more important than ever to celebrate our diversities and uniqueness while also enjoying our interconnections. 

Music is our most powerful universal language.