Brazilian beats to warm up Celtic crowd

Strathspey and Surreal play Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Main Auditorium on January 23.
Strathspey and Surreal play Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Main Auditorium on January 23.

For most cities, January is a time to bring normality back to life after the festivities of Christmas and New Year.

But that’s not the case in Glasgow. The city will once again host 2100 artists taking part in 300 events across 20 venues for one brilliant festival – Celtic Connections.

Fairport Convention celebrate their 50th anniversary with a slot at the festival.

Fairport Convention celebrate their 50th anniversary with a slot at the festival.

Running from January 19 to February 5, the largest annual winter music festival of its kind and the UK’s premier celebration of Celtic music will feature concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, workshops, free events, late night sessions and a host of special one-off musical collaborations.

Getting things started, the opening concert will feature award-winning folk singer-songwriter Laura Marling, performing the world premiere of orchestrations of her songs by Kate St. John with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Laura’s one of a new strand of inspiring female artists featuring this year.

Grease star Olivia Newton John is in there, along with Roberta Sá, Karine Polwart and legend Shirley Collins.

Breabach play the City Halls in February.

Breabach play the City Halls in February.

Celtic Connections is programmed by artistic director and founding member of Capercaillie Donald Shaw.

He said: “A breathtaking range of styles and traditions radiates throughout Celtic Connections 2017.

“Artists who have shaped the present day and those who are re-defining music for the future will take to the stage. Artists whose lives and cultures could not be more different will come together to share stories and skills.

“At the heart of it all is the simple life-affirming experience of being at a live music performance during a world leading festival.”

Celtic Connections will also focus on artists who have lived through hard times, including world music star Aziza Brahim, who grew up in an Algerian refugee camp.

On the Americana front, the bill includes Margo Price, St Paul & the Broken Bones, Darlingside, Jurray for Riff Raff and the Mark O’Connor Band. Jon Cleary and Dirk Powel head up the Louisiana contingent, exploring connections between Scotland and America’s deep south, inspired by Booker Prize-winning author James Kelman, and Dirt Road.

Billy Bragg and Joe Henry will perform classic railroad songs from their album Shine a Light and you’ll also be treated to gigs by Phil Cunningham, C Duncan, Shooglenifty, Martha Wainwright, King Creosote, Liz Lochhead and Anna Meredith, to name but a few.

More of a whisky drinker than a fiddle fan? Then you’ll be excited to see the National Whisky Festival added to the programme. It will offer a wide range of whisky tastings and music at a new venue for Celtic Connections, SWG3.

Councillor Frank McAveety, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “We start the year, while it’s quiet elsewhere, with our fantastic celebration of the very best in world, folk and roots music, Celtic Connections.

“Glasgow is a city for music lovers. We welcome audiences and artists from around the world.

“Some have been coming to the festival every year for more than 20 years, for others this will be their first experience of Glasgow during Celtic Connections. We can promise them all a great time and 18 days of amazing shows and events.”

Traditional and folk music remains at the heart of Celtic Connections with a dazzling line up that takes in La Banda Europa led by Jim Sutherland, star-studded folk orchestra Unusual Suspects, fiddle super-group Session A9, Edinburgh’s Dallahan, the premiere of piping project Tryst, Ireland’s festival favourites Sharon Shannon and Four Men & A Dog, Gaelic rockers Manran and a 20th anniversary performance of Phil Cunningham’s Highlands & Islands suite.

Shooglenifty and special guests will come together for A Night for Angus, paying tribute to their friend, band member and inspirational fiddle player Angus R.Grant who sadly died in October.

Celtic Connections 2017 will also bring the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Canada to Glasgow with shows by leading Canadian artists such as Martha Wainwright, Le Vent Du Nord, De Temps Antan and Russell deCarle.

The 70th anniversary of the Partition of India will be marked with a premiere and commission for leading world percussionists Trilok Gurtu & Evelyn Glennie and classical violin star Jayanthi Kumaresh.

Other artists include Pictish Trail, Fairport Convention, Aidan Moffat, Seth Lakeman, Tom Paxton and Robyn Stapleton.

Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland, said: “Celtic Connections is now firmly established as the winter destination of choice not only for lovers of folk and traditional music but also for anyone who wants to embrace culture on a global scale.

“This is the place where Scotland’s music connects to the world.

“It’s also fantastic this year to see the spotlight shone on female artists, as women have long since provided a strong, defining voice in Scotland’s traditional music and national identity.”

To completely banish the chilly Glasgow temperatures – for a few evenings at least – Celtic Connections will celebrate Brazil as the 2017 partner country, with some of the country’s leading artists performing.

For the full line-up, visit www.celticconnections.com.