Wednesday 20 January 2016

'Ireland 2016 - The Chieftains' commemorating the Easter Rising @ Celtic Connections 2016

Breath of Magic! Exhilarating! ..telling the dark days of fighting to the joy of freedom..
This fun night was to celebrate the Centenary of the Easter Rising 1916.
The concert began softly and poignantly with the fiddle of former Dubliner John Sheahan and the deep vocals of Declan O'Rourke and songs of the heroes of the Easter Rising.

We might have been fooled into thinking this would be a serious night - even while the warm firelights flickered up and down at the side of the stage. Upstairs the galleries were packed out and the stage was set for a much bigger gathering of musicians.

The main event was up next when the Irish legends The Chieftains took to the stage to play their reels and jigs and to take the energy up a notch with those tap-dancing rhythms.

Alyth McCormack read the Roisin Dubh over Maloney's whistle and then she sang impressive in Gaelic, music of the mouth, the Foggy dew into Poirt A Beul, when we were also treated to some Irish dancing by Canadian fiddler John Polanski and his brother.  

Next to sing was Karen Casey how sang The Mountains of Pomeroy - when she remarked 'Freedoms do not fall from the sky, they have to be fought for. To fight against Inequality and child poverty.'  Kris Kristofferson, with his shock  of silver hair, looked slightly bemused with the proceedings and he sang with his honey-toned deep vocals, Help me Make it Through the night and Bobbie McGee.

The second half was s celebration joy-filled party. A half orchestra was conducted by Robert Maxwell (my son played with him years back on a wonderful trip to Gozo). Scots singer Eddi Reader sang Light Over the Horizon and spoke of the Scottish connection to the Easter Rising, such as James Connolly.

The Glasgow Gaelic Choir performed Shenandoah and the Long Journey Home. To express those Celtic connections the Chieftains and orchestra played the Galician Overture with Moloney's uilleann pipes over the Spanish acoustic guitar. Several well known Scottish piers joined in for the March to Battle.
This was followed by an exuberant finale with also performances and was greeted with a rapturous standing ovation! A rip-roaring night of fun!   

Perhaps Ireland is just glad to have their freedoms - to be socially free and equal. The Easter Uprising of 1916, the concert was preceded by the launch of Luath Press’s thought-provoking essay collection, Scotland And The Easter Rising.  Irish Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú, director-general of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, recently observed - "Our cultural identity was central to the aspirations and motivation of 1916", as embodied by the presence of several poets among the rebels, and the simultaneous artistic ferment, encompassing song, literature, theatre and journalism, which fuelled the nationalist cause."  Irish culture has increasingly flourished over the ensuing century
The Chieftains are a traditional Irish band form Dublin that consist of Paddy Moloney, Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy.

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Opening concert 'Carrying the Stream' at Celtic Connections 2016

Siohban Miller

An enriching poignant concert with depth and traditional roots. 
The opening concert for Celtic Connections 2016 celebrated the 50th anniversary of Scotland’s Traditional Music and Song Association. An early TMSA statement was to , champion “Scotland’s authentic tradition-bearers” against over-commercialism and dilution -  to keep the thread of Scottish traditional music flowing and secure traditional song’s place in Scottish music.

The show began with a uplifting pipes of the National Youth Pipe band of Scotland. Along with Scottish stars and greats of the Scottish music scene - Barbara Dickson, Sheena Wellington, Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham - there were seven unaccompanied traditional songs -  performed by Adam McNaughton, Thomas McCarthy, Arthur Johnston, Brain Miller, Pete Shepherd, Tom Spiers, Arthur Watson, Jim Taylor, Joe Aitkin, Geordie Murison, Jimmy Hutchison.  
Adam McNaughton
National Youth Pipe band of Scotland
There was also up-and-coming new stars - the haunting Gaelic singer Misha Macpherson, a talented Feis Rois, memorable singer Shona Donaldson, story-telling American Rayna Gilbert, popular musician Kris Drever and the show's musical director Siohban Miller.  

With such a high calibre of performers it is hard to select only a few highlights. The concert ended well on several high notes with Sheena Wellingtons' A Mans a Man,the poignant fiddle of Aly Bain and a powerful Malinky. For the rousing finale led by political singer Arthur Johnstone and with all the singers onstage, we were treated to Hamish Henderson's Freedom Come All Ye.  

Out in the concert hall foyer were wonderful models of three stalwarts of Scottish traditional music scene - Davy Stewart, Hamish Henderson, Sheila Stewart.
I thought more stories and information on the TSMA, songs and singers would have worked well, while the show was well compared.  

While the concert was heavily about the traditions, it also embraced the future. A very special motion to a top quality house band  - Euan Burton, Anna Massie, Aaron Jones, Tom Gibbs, John Blease and Megan Henderson.

There was a mention of the Land Reform Bills before the Scottish parliament - so that our land can be inhabited the way Norway is. I thought how wonderful that people feel they can express how they feel about things without fear...

Celtic Connections will showcase some of the worlds leading trad, folk and world music artists.  Oh I do miss these kinds of gigs!   

Wednesday 13 January 2016

BURNS Night 25th

Burns, Scotland’s national bard, was known as Robin. ‘Robin was a rovin boy, Rantin Rovin Robin..’
Each January the life, poems and songs of Robert Burns are celebrated across the world on Burns night 25th January to celebrate his birthday.  He is the only poet that has a day to celebrate his writings.    
 ‘Address to a Haggis’
`The Immortal Memory’
‘Toast to the Lassie’

Burns wrote some of the best loved songs and poems Ye Banks and Braes, Ae Fond Kiss, Red Red Rose, Auld Lang Syne, A Mans a Man, and more) and he was a leading Romantic Poet.
Oddly Burns was hardly mentioned in the Romantic Poets book I bought at the National Portrait galleries or on Wikipedia. He was not a Heaven Taught Ploughman poet and he was not simply the son of a poor tenant farmer – but – in fact he knew four languages - Scots, English, Latin and French and he was a great reader. His father was highly articulate and taught his sons and daughters a great deal. His mother and aunt taught them about local songs and stories. They also had a young teacher for several years who encouraged reading, writing, French, Latin.Mathematics, Geography and more. 

Burn’s father’s family had fallen on hard times in Aberdeenshire west of Stonehaven, after the Earl of Marischal lost his estates after the Jacobites 45. These were also difficult times for many in Scotland during the American revolutionary wars.

BURNS wrote some of the best loved poems and songs of our kinship with nature, love and on radical politics.

The nervous first entertainer follows immediately after the meal. Often it will be a singer or musician performing Burns songs such as:-
                        My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose;
                        Rantin', Rovin' Robin;
                        John Anderson, my jo; or
                        Ae Fond Kiss, and Then We Sever.
Alternatively it could be a moving recital of a Burns poem, with perennial preference for:-
                        Tam o' Shanter;
                        Holy Willie's Prayer;
                        To a Louse;
                        Address to the Unco Guid; or
                        For a' that and a' that.
                                    The immortal memory
The keynote speaker takes the stage to deliver a spell-binding oratoration on the life of Robert Burns: his literary genius, his politics, his highs and lows, his human frailty and - most importantly - his nationalism. The speech must bridge the dangerous chasm between serious intent and sparkling wit, painting a colourful picture of Scotland's beloved Bard.
The speaker concludes with a heart-felt toast: “To the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns!”

Music Photography 2015

Van Morrison

I have attended some top gigs in 2015. Most memorably the legend voice that is 'Van Morrison' who takes both Irish and R & B soul to new levels. Just awesome!  Then Scottish indie rockers 'Idlewild' played their debut return gig at the O2 ABC Glasgow and played such an energized and fun gig. Top quality. Another memorable concert was the 'Punch Brothers' at the concert hall during Celtic Connections 2015 - their harmony singing and electrifying banjo playing was highly enjoyable. I also enjoyed wonderful singing at the Scottish A Cappella Championships St Andrews. Other quality concerts included the Alan Kelly band, the Dirty Beggars, and not forgetting the quality musicianship and singing at the  Transatlantic Sessions. I've been very fortunate and a big thanks to all these wonderful artists who entertain us so well!   

Alan Kelly band

**MUSIC 2015

Hozier took my attention for his depth and subtle toned voice. I heard him sing a Van Morrison song - Domino - on the Jools Holland new year show.  His song Take Me to Church is truly a classic, no doubt of it for those who say its all been heard before and nothing decent in music is done these days. 
Hozier - Hozier -

Here are a few other classics that were released in 2015/ 2014
Julia Hotler - Have You in My Wilderness -
Father John Misty - I Have You Honey Bear  -
The Shires -  Brave -
John Grant - Grey Tickles, Black Pressure -
Lucinda Williams - The Ghosts of Highway 20 -
War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream -

Kathryn Joseph -   bones you have thrown me and blood i've spilled
 (SAy award) I met her briefly going into play at the Edinburgh book festival where her vintage piano was carefully being lifted over the stone steps via the backstage entrance into the Charlotte square gardens. -
Idlewild - Everything Ever Written -  
Rab Noakes - I'm Walkin Here -
C Duncan - Architect -
Belle & Sebastian - Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance -
Chvrches - Every Open Eye -
 Alan Kelly Band – The Last Bell

Those Borderlands.....Change and innovation does not occur in the large mainstream, but in the hinterlands edges and in smaller places. You need to explore the vast array of the different forms and find out where they meet. In the borderlands. 

PS I was sad to hear of the death of David Bowie - his greatest strength was being first and lastly an artist in the true sense of discovery, innovation and edge. He wished to create alternative worlds. Sadly missed. 

Scottish A Cappella