Posts Tagged ‘Blazin’ Fiddles’

Celtic Connections Round 2

Posted on January 17th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

Following on from yesterday’s blog, here are some more Celtic Connections recommendations for the latter half of the festival.

The Angolan-Portuguese DJ Pedro Coquenão, aka Batida (pictured left, photo by Manuel Lino), released his debut album on the hip Soundway label (a Top of the World in #84) and he’ll be supporting French Gypsy-swingers Caravan Palace (January 24, O2 ABC).

The premiere of a sea-themed collaboration, Dán, by some top-notch Celtic and Breton musicians including band members from Kan and Guidewires and Gaelic singer Alyth McCormack (January 24, Old Fruitmarket).

Burns Night sees a specially-commissioned evening of music, courtesy of Scots Trad Music Award-winners Breabach and Kathleen MacInnes, together with Blazin’ Fiddles and Dougie MacLean (January 25, Concert Hall).

If anyone has mastered the art of cloning, it’ll come in very handy for the night of January 26 when there are no less than 13 artists who I’d go and see without any hesitation. They include: Sarah Jarosz, Baloji, Katy Carr, The Be Good Tanyas, The Halton Quartet, Mike McGoldrick’s band and Duncan Chisholm (whose latest release Affric was one of my favourite albums of 2012) (Various venues).

Last issue’s cover star Bassekou Kouyaté and his band Ngoni ba team up with fellow Malians Sidi Touré and Tamikrest for Sahara Soul (January 27, Concert Hall).

The Radio 2 Folk Awards will be broadcast live from Glasgow for the first time, hosted by Julie Fowlis and Mark Radcliffe, plus performances by some of the winners (January 30, Concert Hall).

Songlines faves Anda Union are bound to go down a treat in Glasgow. They’re on the same billing as the equally impressive Frigg who have a Top of the World review in the next issue, #90 (January 30, Old Fruitmarket).

The highly-acclaimed Scottish singer Karine Polwart and US stars Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer (also with a Top of the World in #90) (February 2, City Halls).

The final day sees singer-songwriter and guitarist Sorren Maclean from Mull take part in the New Voices initiative that showcases new talent (February 3, Mitchell Theatre).

On top of all that, there are workshops galore, an open stage and a late-night festival club – so many reasons why I wouldn’t want to be heading anywhere else this month. Now, how quickly can I get myself up to Glasgow…

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Showcase Scotland @ Celtic Connections

Posted on February 8th, 2012 in Recent posts by .

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!

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Sophie’s Celtic Connections round-up part ii

Posted on February 4th, 2012 in Recent posts by .

So here’s my round up part deux of Celtic Connections festival… As I mentioned at the tail end of my last blog, simply focussing on the larger gigs that take place at Celtic would be belying the very essence of the festival itself. Should you so wish, you could quite merrily entertain yourself in and around the city from dusk until, well, dusk, with a plethora of workshops, more informal gigs, late night sessions and of course a spot of dancing at the infamous festival club.

The workshops come in all shapes and sizes and are open to participants of all ages and levels. This year, festival-goers were able to try their hand at the fiddle, mandolin, whistle, ukulele, Gaelic singing and harmonising. In addition to these there were the children’s workshops – where you could take your bairns along to percussion sessions for ‘wee ones’ or the Lullabies: Sing a Song of Sleep with Chrissie Stewart, which I was able to attend with my friend and her little boy. We, along with dozens of other parents, learned songs such as ‘Ally Bally Bee’, although I can safely say not much sleeping went on…

Daytime sessions included those hosted by Hazy Recollections – whose aim it is to celebrate and connect acts whose music meets at the boundaries of indie, folk and roots. Special guests over the three Sundays included The Dirty Beggars, Julia and the Doogans, Findlay Napier and the Bar Room Mountaineers, Captain and the Kings and The Hidden Lane Choir. And then there were the Brel sessions, taking place in the Belgian bar in the city’s West End. Acts who played at the intimate bar included Federation Of The Disco Pimp (a 7-piece Scottish band who combine elements of old-school funk, disco, psychedelic and jazz) and Louis Abbott (of Admiral Fallow – who went down a treat at their Celtic gig at ABC) and friends.

It was around about this time – post workshops and afternoon sessions, but pre gigs – that I’d try to grab a nap to re-energise, very much in the knowledge of what the night had in store for me: namely the Late Night Sessions and the FESTIVAL CLUB! Both kick off at around 10pm, and go on to the wee small hours. The line-up for each isn’t decided until mere hours beforehand. Spectacular acts who played at the Festival Club while I was there included Blazin’ Fiddles, Manran, Sweetback Sisters, I Draw Slow, Donald Macdonald and the Islands, Shooglenifty, Rua Macmillan… The list is truly inexhaustive. And the atmosphere here is as important and impressive as the lineup. Another blog compared it, very rightly, to that of a spontaneous house party – and acts that have been playing are more often than not found kicking about and enjoying the festivities both before and after performances.

All in all – a riotous, if not completely exhausting – time was had by all. I’ll be back up in two shakes of a haggis’ tail.

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