Besides the vast programme of music to grapple with, one of the other reasons for being at Celtic Connections was to support the Spotlight England 2013 project, which got its official launch at Glasgow’s cosy Arts Club on Sunday January 30. Every year Showcase Scotland – the trade fair event of the festival – select a partner region and this year the spotlight was on the music from Catalonia. Delegates spent a very convivial afternoon enjoying three very different bands from the six Catalan acts featured at this year’s festival: singer Lidia Pujol, Sol i Serena and La Carrau (pictured).
The announcement of England’s involvement at next year’s event was preceded by a brief but attention grabbing performance of rappers. Not of the hip-hop variety, but of a more historical, dance kind – the Newcastle Kingsmen sword dancers.
Having effectively piqued the interest of the gathered crowd of delegates, Katy Spicer from the English Folk Dance and Song Society announced England’s official partnership at the 2013 Showcase Scotland. Six groups will be chosen by Celtic Connections to be part of the programme, which will be scheduled during the Showcase Scotland event, and so providing a great opportunity to perform and hopefully impress some of the top international festival organisers, bookers and promoters. To round off the Spotlight England reception, delegates were given a flavour of the calibre of musical talent from south of the border with a set of tunes from Folkestra, a youth folk band from the North of England, whose musical director is Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell.
Many of my highlights from this year’s Celtic Connections came from the short sets I saw at the Festival Club, very conveniently located across the road from the Concert Hall. Although not a particularly salubrious venue, (some delegates were heard to complain about the sticky floors!), there could be no grumbles about the line-ups. The Club is a great idea, especially if, like me, you end up with a ludicrously long list of acts that you want to catch every night. You’re almost guaranteed to catch most of the bands playing at some point.
As Sophie has already gone into detail in previous blogs about some of her personal favourites, I thought I’d just list a few more of my choice moments from the sets I experienced in the Festival Club:
Blazin’ Fiddles – ridiculously talented collective of Scottish fiddlers.
Kan – a new collaborative venture by Brian Finnegan (of Flook) and Aidan O’Rouke (of Lau).
Manran – who would have thought a young bunch of lads playing bagpipes, accordion and guitars could be so much fun?
Ross Ainslie Trio & Jarlath Henderson Trio – probably the first time I’ve pogo’ed to pipe music.
Finlay Wells & Sorren Maclean – a teacher and pupil guitar duo. Think Rod & Gab, but with far more finesse and variety.
And many, many more…
Hats off to everyone at Celtic Connections for another outstanding festival and roll on January 17 2013 for the 20th edition!