Showing posts with label acoustic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label acoustic. Show all posts

Wednesday 28 January 2015

The Punch Brothers Celtic Connections 2015

The Punch Bothers were received with warm applause by fans at the Glasgow concert hall on Friday night. They are a hip and modern, suit-and-tie old time bluegrass band with pure-toned melodic harmonies, foot-tapping banjo and melody strumming mandolin rhythms. They describe themselves as acoustic folk/progressive bluegrass.
They consist of Chris Thile (mandolin), Gabe Witcher (fiddle/violin), Noam Pikelny (banjo), Chris Eldridge (guitar), and Paul Kowert (bass).They performed tracks from their upcoming release , 27th January 2014 - The Phosphorescent Blues including singles I Blew It Off, Julep,

The band play subtle acoustic song stories, unaccompanied singing, instrumentals, spirituals and sing with strong falsettos and harmony. They kept the tempo up with plenty of variety in tone, dynamics, rhythms, strong harmonies and of style. The celtic crowd clearly enjoyed the boys show and they played a welcome encore. I hope they return soon! Recommend.

The band wrote the song Dark Days for the movie Hunger Games 2012, and also performed on the songs The Last Thing on My Mind (Tom Paxton) and Ewan MacColl's The Shoals of Herring on the Coen Brothers 2013 film Inside LLewyn Davis.
Chris Thile (mandolin) is from California and is known for his work with the acoustic band Nickel Creek, an American Grammy award winning progressive acoustic music trio (2002 Best Contemporary Folk Album)

Tuesday 17 January 2012

*Celtic Connections Festival Glasgow 2012!

Held when we feel the winter blues, Celtic offers the warm glow of dancing fiddles, energetic guitars and free flowing singers....
In my twenties I dated a folk guitarist in Edinburgh and visited Sandy Bells and Arran folk festivals. The immediacy and passion of live traditional reels and folk songs were infectious and I was hooked. 
The recent successes of younger artists such as Mumford, Laura Marling and Bellowhead, show there is now renewed interest in the musical traditions worldwide. Aly Bain commented stated that there is little acoustic music on tv these days. Celtic started in 1994 when Aly Bain was the only professional fiddle player in Scotland and he wondered would they sell 100,000 tickets in January in Glasgow.....? Well yes they did and now in 2012 Celtic is one of the largest gatherings of folk music worldwide. 
My guitarist son and I take a front row seat every year at the Transatlantic Sessions, one of Celtics highlights which is led by musical directors Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas. This concert, which is held in the Glasgow Royal Concert hall, has an energetic impact where the folk traditions of close live collaborations and instrumental skills abound.
The mix of Scottish traditional lilting tunes alongside its' partner the fun rhythms of American bluegrass and country music works a treat. Nashville legend Dubro guitarist Jerry Douglas leads the Americans on the right if the stage and backing bands don't come any better then this!  Image, age and celebrity matter not one bit. What matters is the live music, nothing else. There are no flashing lights, gimmicks or egos - the music is simply down to the quality of the sound, instruments and playing skills. One of the main aspects I enjoy at Celtic are the very interesting and sometimes usual collaborations. 
The band includes veterans Danny Thompson on double bass, Bruce Molsky on guitar, Phil Cunningham on accordion, and also Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker, Donald Shaw, Darrell Scott, John Doyle, Russ Barenberg and James Mackintosh. 
After a couple of reels we have the pleasure of several singers from Tim O'Brien to the likes of Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis last year in a royal blue velvet dress.  James Taylor, Emmylou Harris and Nanci Griffith have also attended.  This year the sessions include Raul Malo, Ruth Moody, Declan O'Rourke, Eddi Reader and Karen Matheson. This concert is pure class - acoustic music at it's very best.  Long may it last!   Transatlantic now goes on tour after the festival, check for dates 

The festival centres around the concert hall with open mic sessions, concerts and more, as well as many other Glasgow venues that include the Old Fruitmarket, City halls, The Arches, Classic Grande, the ABC, Oran Mor, more.   
This is one of my favourite festivals and 2012 will be my fifth year covering Celtic.

Friday 4 March 2011

Pearl and the Puppets

I have been taking photos of 'Pearl and the Puppets' (aka Katie Sutherland from Kirkintolloch) the past 2 years at Glasgow venues King Tuts, Oran Mor, Classic Grande etc. She has such expressive eyes, that are full of mischief. I noticed immediately her soft engrossing vocals and catchy acoustic pop tunes. She is signed to the Universal Republic and her song 'Because I Do' was featured in a Vodafone ad in Australia, and 'Make Me Smile' in a ad in the USA. 

And a PS - PLAN B!
I heard this song on the radio today that sounded like 'Tamala Motown', and I wondered was it 'Smokey Robinson' - cool voice, those funky bass lines etc. - then I hear it is 'Plan B's' new single 'Writings on the Wall' - isn't it odd how sometimes straight imitating works!

Also ELBOW. I was just reading about 'Elbow''s new album 'Build a Rocket Boys'. I saw them supporting Snowpatrol in Edinburgh in 2006 - and thought it was hard for any band to follow them!   After 20 years in the business Elbow won the Mercury Prize in 2008 for their album 'The Seldom Seen Kid' (ahead of Radiohead's In Rainbows)...  'Build a Rocket Boys' is released 7th March 2011.

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 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.

Thursday 31 December 2009

Hobopop Collective - Live album No 5

Hobopop Collective - Live album No 5
'banjo-dominated americana from its tom waits-like washboard blowouts'
I was thrilled to travel down to Manchester to shoot for the bands live album. Mat met me at the Manchester station so I missed the BMP March.

Kirsty and Mat have a flowing and engrossing vibe to their upbeat tunes. Kirsty has moving soul-filled vocals and Mat provides the energy with his stringed instruments. Her songs feel light and easy, but are full of mystery and clever meanings. They do a mix of laid back jazz-infused bluegrass acoustic tunes. Kirsty sings her travelling songs that draw close affinities with nature – ‘Your Under My Skin’ (songs about dust!) ‘Killer Wasps’, the fun ‘Sandman’, the bluesy tones of ‘Easy’. She draws inspiration from her travels hobo style. She and Mat have been performing together the past 4 years and are based in Manchester.

McGee's evolving band is named the Hobopop Collective. With a diversity of musicianship the Collective consists of on drums Rob Turner ( jazz band Magic Hat Ensemble), on double bass Nick Blacka (Magic Hat Ensemble), and for this live recording on guitar James Steel (from the rock band Brute chorus) Chris Cundy on clarinet ( Fyfe Dangerfield's band the Guillemots and the Gannets) For her recent album - 'Live Album No 5' - McGee decided to have it recorded in one live take in a Manchester theatre to have that special live audience vibe.

Wednesday 30 December 2009


MARTHA WAINWRIGHT Old Fruitmarket Celtic Connections 2009
Shimmers like the sun – Something very gentle yet surreal and very strong in Martha’s performance of her meaningful songs. They swoop, yet also carry a clarity and depth to them. Her influences are strongly folk (from both her parents) yet blend and converge with other song writing and vocal styles - such as contemporary pop/rock, alt American country and even cabaret chanson, as heard in the early 20th century vaudeville clubs of Europe. Honing her own very unique style.

Hamish Henderson Poet, translator, Highland folklorist, campaigner for Scottish parliament and guiding light behind the Edinburgh fringe festival. The tryst of Hamish Henderson, who has died aged 82, was with Scotland. It was a meeting of high consequence - across the 20th century, in darkness and in sun, Scotland informed all that Henderson was as a man and a poet. And in his Nelson Mandela freedom song, Rivonia, when Henderson sings, "Spear of the nation unbroken", it is to Scotland as much as South Africa that he refers. Like Burns, Henderson was, first and last, a poet, and poetry was for them both language rising into song, responsible to moment, people, place and joy. (QUOTE GUARDIAN Timothy Neat March 2002)


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.

MICHAEL MARRA at Mugdock Festival theatre

The theatre highlight was Michael Marra. Marra is a Scottish songwriting legend from Dundee. Out of this small grey haired man with the weather beaten face came this huge gravely voice and clever songs, with a strong Scottish and American favour to them. With his clever wit and playful way with words, his songs talk about the eccentricities of the Scottish character. He writes about women’s choirs, meeting artist Freda Kahlo at the pearly gates -well more exactly at a pub on the Tay Bridge because she’s held up! He sang ‘If Dundee was Africa’ ‘Maggie Shae’ ‘Wa can Tell the Difference’ Jersey Kitchen Partner’ ‘Hamish’ and Dylan’s ‘Tomorrow wasn’t such along Time’. He’s the real deal! He finished his set with a perfect version of a Burns classic - ‘Green Grow the Rashes O’

While Marra’s voice draws from jazz, blues, pop and folk with the likes of Tom Waits, Randy Newman and Dylan, he keeps it essentially Scottish in flavour. In 1985 he released his solo album, Gaels Blue, on his own label. .’.

MARRA's music is soaked in the Scottish experience, strained through a gauze of ragtime blues-piano and shot with filaments of traditional folk and American voices ... ‘; Scotland on Sunday

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'.

Richard Thompson Old Fruitmarket 2009

Richard Digs Deep
Richard Thompson @ Old Fruit market Glasgow 15th September 2007
I enjoyed seeing Richard, who recorded so many unforgettable folk/rock songs in the 70s, such as his well loved 'Bright Lights' album with Linda, back on form rocking with the songs from his new 'Sweet Warrior' Album. The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow's Merchant City area, is a recently refurbished venue and strung with coloured fairy lights along it's wooden balcony, offered an old-worldly feel. Richard 'digs deep' and always keeps it real, with expressive guitar and voice and lyrics that draw colourful stories, characters and emotive melodies. He eschews the 'commercial' and has always sought his own musical path. He played with Fairport Convention in '67 and took folk into an edgier folk-rock sound. Richard explored religious themes in the 80s and eventually settled in LA, where he re-married and continued his furious output of outstanding songs.

Richard also enjoys to rock it up and started his set with the full band, then took it jazzier, and next offering his acoustic songs - Persuasion, I Still Dream, his expressive guitar accompanying. His guitar and voice ache and sweep, then charge with clear anger, hurt or compassion.