cast of Scottish folk artists took to the concert hall stage Thursday night for
a 20th celebration concert of Celtic Connections. Some had taken part in the
first ever Celtic Connections in 1994 - such as the talented singer Sheena Wellington and the New Rope string band. This was a
quality line up with some of the best that Scotland has to offer as well as
Irish singer Cara Dillon and American
folk band Flook.
was led by two accomplished musicians - piper Finlay MacDonald and fiddle player Chris Stout. Alongside
Scottish pipers were some of the best from the present Scottish folk scene -
including Eddi Reader, Michael McGoldrick,
Phil Cunningham, John McCusker and Capercaille.
were treated to the traditional Burns song Westlin
Winds tonight beautifully interpreted by Rod
Paterson. Next was the singer Julie
Fowlis who sang two Gaelic songs with her flowing and lovely voice.
band Flook had flown in from America
and they joined Irish singer Cara Dillon
on stage with her husband Sam Lakeman.
Cara and her husband are a perfect musical partnership - Cara with her natural,
quietly gentle yet strongly moving voice, while
Sam accompanies with quality piano and guitar
playing. She sang Avalanche and Parting
Glass with Sam on piano.
Rope string band provided a lighter set with some fun comedy routines as they
sent notes flying in the air while beating themselves over the head! Then folk singer Archie Fisher sang Song For A
Capercaille (Donald Shaw and Karen Matheson) finished the first half with a rousing set of
Scottish tunes - backed by the Scottish Power pipers.
second half we were treated to more fine playing from the pipers and
Scottish singer Eddi Reader sang Willie Stewart and the song Mountainside.
Accordionist Phil Cunningham was well received when
he performed one of his own compositions with fiddle player, John McCusker. Also popular was Sheena Wellington, who sang a very
personal version of Burn's best loved song My
Love is Like a Red Red Rose.
For the second half of the concert Finlay MacDonald and Chris Stout were joined by a unique festival string ensemble led by Greg
Lawson and along with the Scottish Power pipers they created a big wall of
sound. After which all the singers took to the stage to sing Hermless..
was what Donald Shaw, Festival Director, enjoys best – a
traditional folk sessions of reels and jigs with all the folk musicians on
stage and building to a full on flourish of energetic playing, enough to warm
the coldest of hearts at this very cold time of year!
This was a
proud-to-be-Scottish night and an enriching concert to start the festival
with! It also gave a true taste of what
the festival has to offer.