Saturday 30 March 2024

Joshua Burnside Celtic Connections 2024

 Young Irish folk singer-songwriter Joshua Burnside gave a strong performance, at Transatlantic Sessions 2024, at Celtic Connections, Glasgow concert hall - with his thoughtful songs Louis Mercer and 26th Street. He is influenced from contemporary electronica and traditional Irish songs, evoking lush landscapes, bad dreams and wistful vistas. His debut album Ephrata was awarded the Northern Ireland Music Prize for Best Album.

Charlene Carter Celtic Connections 2024

A highlight at Transatlantic Sessions 2024, at Celtic Connections Glasgow concert hall, was Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Carlene Carter­ - daughter of music legends June Carter and Carl Smith, and Johnny Cash’s stepdaughter – who performed her songs, Every Little Thing, Wildwood Flower - as well as June Carter’s Ring of Fire, for a rousing sing along finale.

Friday 29 March 2024

Woman Fight Back II! And say STOP!


Helena Kennedy

Many thanks to the National for such an impressive paper Friday 8th March, written exclusively by women for the International Women’s day 8th March. From the voices of women in Palestine, to the significant line up of Scottish women who have had a major impact on Scottish life the past decades - Helena Kennedy, Nicola Sturgeon, Margo MacDonald, Winnie Ewing, Muriel Gibson. 

Plus articles by Scots women in politics – Mhairi Black, Kate Forbes, Ash Reagan, Gillian MacKay, Mary Fraser Scott, and Joanna cherry. Plus articles by Assa-Samake Roman, Laura Young on the climate fight and Lesley Riddoch’s interview with author Sara Sheridan. Who wrote on the struggles for women’s rights, misogyny and much more besides. It’s clear we’ve come far but not far enough.

Lesley Riddoch
Nicola Sturgeon
Jucinda Adhern

If we look around the world we can see that in the nations where women have an equal voice, there is greater harmony, peace, equality and fairness. Women bring a different perspectives. Look at Northern Ireland today significantly with Stormont now led by two women – Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly. Or Jucinda Adhern in (New Zealand, praised for her Covid leadership. The Scottish governments baby boxes, improved childcare provisions, child uplift payment, led by the respected leadership of Nicola Sturgeon. (We must not let unionists attempt to alter the narratives here). 

I believe that sports should be an important issue for women – not only to learn how to be part of a team but also to give girls fitness and extra confidence in life. This is often an advantage for men.

Peggy Seeger

I always remember the folk singer Peggy Seeger recounting a folk legend. “Women need to say STOP! She spoke of an Amazon tribe where they considered the men tended to be destructive – they cut down trees for canoes, they killed animals for food and they fought wars. Wheras the women were the nurturers of the crops and the children.

So they felt the women needed to tell the men when to stop. They would say STOP, we have enough canoes stop cutting down trees. They would say we have enough to eat, STOP killing animals. We don’t need any more wars STOP! When one of the tribe visited the western world she wondered why there were only male voices to be heard and why the women were not saying STOP.” She also said that music is the healer and motivator.

Our great bard Robert Burns wrote in 1792 that the ‘Rights of Women merit some attention’. As did Mary Wolfstonecraft known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

I look at Gaza and Israel’s dreadful conflicts and have to wonder if women were only in charge or even had an equal say there? A Latin American aboriginal group state - “our tribe is like an eagle. One wing is male, the other wing is female. And only when the wings are equal will our tribe fly true.” 

Mary Wolfstonecraft 

Thursday 29 February 2024





One aspect of folk music  is its inclusive, open culture – its for everyone. Its not about a few musicians on stage. All can sing the choruses, dance, clap. This year traditional Scots musician Dick Gaughan made a surprise appearance at the concert for Red Clyde sider John MacLean. Gaughan had a stroke a few years back and has been unable to perform or play his guitar. 


I remember Dick Gaughan standing near the Celtic Connections press office. He was happy to chat, maybe he remembered me from his intimate Milngavie folk club gigs, where some musicians there said he was a Scots living legend. My younger son came to hear him and was impressed with his dramatic guitar playing, and the strength of his guttural voice on his highly memorable and meaningful folk songs. Dick Gaughan is a song collector, songwriter and traditional singer and musician. I remember Gaughan telling his stories while tuning his guitar -  The Yew Tree, What you do with what you’ve got, The Flowers of the Forrest, Westlin Winds. The first time I heard Robert Burns Parcel of Rogues was Gaughan’s interpretation at the festivals Auld Lang Syne concert in 2014? I had no idea before this that Burns was such a radical reformer and like many, I had thought he mostly wrote love songs and poems. 


Many of Gaughan’s generation are now getting older and I wonder who among the younger musicians can replace them? In 2012 we lost Dundonian character songwriter Michael Marra, in 2012 the iconic Scots songwriter Gerry Rafferty. (I took photos at a concert to his memory at Celtic Connections at which the Proclaimers and Rafferty’s family performed, and just last year 2023, we lost the wonderful Rab Noakes who I knew well from his concerts and taking his photos there. What an interesting gentleman and creative songwriter he was. I remember in my twenties in my folk days, we would often sing in harmonies his songs – Branch, Clear Day, Happy Days indeed! Another massive Bob Dylan fan. 



Roddy Hart

II   Celtic Connections music festival Glasgow

I spent time abroad, worked and had my family. Years later I returned to Scotland, after nine years in Cincinnati Ohio and Chicago Illinois. While its wonderful to travel its also good to return to our roots. Later , in 2008, I discovered Celtic Connections music festival. Begun in 1994, with the likes of Aly Bain – to fill the cold empty month of January – with 66 concerts at one venue. And I felt a return to the joy of the folk world, I had inhabited years before. That was the first time I heard people singing in a Scots accent and Scots words.  People travel from far and wide to enjoy this magic festival – I hear voices from Cornwall, Northern Ireland, Canada and many more. 


Ceiran Ryan


World-renowned folk, roots and world music festival Celtic Connections  -  celebrated in January with 18 days of sold-out concerts, innovative musical sessions and collaborations - with 1,200 artists across 25 venues.


#ccfest is the biggest winter festival of its kind in Europe, known for its eclectic mix of genres and inclusive atmosphere, celebrated over 100 sold out shows across its 300 events alongside welcoming over 115,000 attendees.  Once-in-a-lifetime collaborations, rare performances from global sensations, moving tribute concerts and some of the biggest shows ever played by home grown talent were all showcased across the city for 31st edition of Celtic Connections. 

Concerts which celebrated the tradition, innovation and unifying power of music:

      Opening Concert welcomed the genre-defying European premiere of ATTENTION! from American Grammy winner Chris Thile (Nickel Creek) and guests Rachel Sermanni, Dreamers’ Circus and Sarah Jarosz

      Red Clydeside: John MacLean Centenary Concert, celebrated the music, poetry and legacy of Scottish schoolteacher and legendary revolutionary socialist John MacLean, with an evening of passion and talent. Led by Siobhan MillerEddi ReaderBilly Bragg and Karine Polwart, and with a surprise performance from Scottish social protest singer Dick Gaughan  a hugely emotional and iconic moment 

      Roaming Roots Review, with Songs of Modern Scotland, celebrated some of the most phenomenal artists and iconic tracks. Joining host Roddy Hart were Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil, Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble and Rod Jones, Del Amitri’s Justin Currie, Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell, singer-songwriter Emma Pollock, Hamish Hawk, Admiral Fallow’s Sarah Hayes and Louis Abbott and Brownbear  Accompanied by Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Orchestra, conducted by John Logan

      The Bothy Band, one of the most influential Irish ensembles to revolutionise the playing of traditional music, made their mark on Celtic Connections 2024 with a highly-anticipated performance. For the first time since 1979, Donal Lunny on bouzouki, Tríona ní Dhomhnaill on keyboards, Matt Molloy on flute, Paddy Keenan on Uilleann pipes and low whistle, and Paddy Glackin and Kevin Burke on fiddle came together to perform their first full-scale public concert, joined by Seán Óg Graham on guitar

      Always a Celtic Connections highlight, Transatlantic Sessions celebrated the rich musical traditions that connect Scotland, Ireland and the US. Featuring a top line-up of the awesome TS band and artists -  AmericanaFest’s “Can’t Miss Act” Lindsay Lou,  Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Carlene Carter, Irish folk singer-songwriter Joshua Burnside, Scots Trad Music Awards Gaelic singer of the year Kim Carnie, the night saw audiences soak up an exceptional array of tunes, songs and genres.

      Concert to celebrate legacy of Tiree accordionist Gordon Connell - A Ceilidh for Gordon at iconic Old   Fruitmarket. 

      Grammy nominee and multi-award-winning musician Allison Russell wowed crowds at Òran Mór 

      Traditional Music and Song Association revisited the landmark Scots Women concert from the 2001 festival. Scots Women - Generations o' Change with Musical Director Iona Fyfe and hosted by Scots Poet Len Pennie.

      Showcase Scotland, highlighted partners Norway with international delegates from all over the UK, Europe, Australia, America and Canada to join in appreciation of the Scandinavian talent playing at the festival -  violinist Julie Alapnes, fiddle player Alexander Aga Røynstrand, traditional trios Erlend Viken and Ævestaden, Nordic folk five-piece Gangar, and Sámi band Gabba

      Barony Hall proved a spectacular setting for the first time , with award-winning trad band Breabach, r folk musician John McCusker, Irish fiddler Martyn Hayes and multi-talented Damien O’Kane.

      Music workshops and teaching sessions were also in full swing over the past 18 days. From composing, bagpipes and the ukulele, participants had the chance to fully immerse themselves in every facet of the festival, while the festival’s free school concerts programme shared the joy of live music of 8,000 school children from across Scotland over the course of four morning shows

Dougie MacLean 50th anniversary concert

Donald Shaw, Creative Producer for Celtic Connections, said: "This year's Celtic Connections was a testament to the creative power and enduring importance of the arts and the music of the people. The richness of talent on display, the diverse range of genres and the infectious enthusiasm of the audiences made this year’s edition truly special. It's heartening to see the festival grow and evolve, bringing together artists and audiences from all walks of life, joined by a shared appreciation for music, art and cultural expression. “The continued success of Celtic Connections reflects the passion and commitment of everyone involved. My thanks goes to each person who bought a ticket, performed on our stages, volunteered their time, worked on or backed the event, and to the people of Glasgow who welcomed the world with open arms. Your support is the heartbeat of the festival, and it's your enthusiasm and dedication that make this celebration of music possible year after year.

“Scotland has a rich tapestry of musical traditions, and Celtic Connections is a platform that showcases the beauty and diversity of our own folk music, as well as that of other countries, and the expansive connections it has created. I am immensely proud of how well Scotland continues to champion folk music on the global stage, and feel truly excited about the path that lies ahead for what we’re proud to say has become a world-renowned event.”

Glasgow Life Chair, Bailie Annette Christie, said: “This 31st edition of Celtic Connections has not only demonstrated how internationally renowned and much-loved this unique festival is, it has also emphasised how immeasurably important it is to Glasgow and to Scotland – and we look forward to building on its incredible legacy in future years.”

Transatlantic Sessions 2024

Kim Carnie

Lindsay Lou

Joshue Burnside

Charlene Carter