Got a dose of the January blues? Well, my suggestion would be to make your way to Glasgow for a much-needed, life-affirming shot of fabulous music courtesy of Celtic Connections – the annual folk, roots and world music extravaganza, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
First of all, a couple of mind-boggling stats to get your head round: there will be over 2,100 artists from across the world descending on Glasgow, playing at over 20 venues over the duration of 18 nights. So, with that in mind, you’ll hopefully appreciate that it’s been quite a job trying to choose my highlights and with so many to choose from, look out for another blog tomorrow with my choices for the second half of the festival.
The 20th anniversary opening concert tonight looks set to be a rousing affair with a stellar line-up including a ‘Who’s Who’ of Celtic talent: performers include Eddi Reader, Julie Fowlis, Flook, Cara Dillon, Capercaillie, Chris Stout and Phil Cunningham plus a host of others (January 17, Concert Hall).
English folk often gets overlooked with such an abundance of local talent, but no fear of that happening this year, with Spotlight England being one of the partners of this year’s Showcase Scotland. Artists performing include Sam Carter (January 31, Tron Theatre), Spiro (January 31, St Andrew’s in the Square), Bellowhead (February 1, O2 ABC), Lucy Ward (pictured left) (February 1, St Andrew’s in the Square), Bella Hardy (February 2, Tron Theatre) and the Tom McConville Band (February 3, Mitchell Theatre).
Galician piper and firm favourite at Celtic Connections is Carlos Núñez who is performing with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (January 19, Concert Hall).
Irish faves Kíla team up with the young, much talked about young Gaelic band Mànran for what promises to be a night to test out your Gaelic dance moves (January 19, O2 ABC).
Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke will be bringing his cool vibes sound and his extraordinary band to the wonderful Old Fruitmarket (January 20, Old Fruitmarket).
Irish trio Fidil who were lauded with a recent Top of the World review in #83 for their latest album The Old Wheel of Fortune (January 22, National Piping Centre).
The ever-inventive Martin Green (accordionist in Lau, pictured right) brings his latest project called Crows’ Bones to one of the festival’s most beautiful venues, St Andrew’s in the Square. Spooky music and ghost tales are guaranteed with Becky Unthank and Inge Thompson, plus nyckelharpist Niklas Roswall (January 23, St Andrew’s in the Square).
More recommendations tomorrow….
If you can’t make it to Glasgow, then fret not, you’ll be able to sample some of the music by tuning into Mary-Ann Kennedy on Radio 3’s World on 3 programme. She’ll be broadcasting live from the Royal Concert Hall on January 18, 25 and February 1.
Julie Fowlis, Duncan Chisholm & co.