Celtic Connections is here again! It all kicks off this Thursday (15th January) for 18 days of gigs, workshops and lots of fun. This years programme brings over 2000 musicians from across the world to more than 15 venues across Glasgow. So, to give you a helping hand in deciding which gigs you should go and see we will be giving you our top tips for the Festival over the next couple of weeks.
Our highlights for the first weekend are:
The Opening Concert of Celtic Connections has a reputation for being something of a spectacle, however this year maybe the most adventurous yet. The 2015 festival coincides with the 10th anniversary of Martyn Bennett’s untimely passing, so combining celebration with commemoration the concert will see the live world première of Martyn Bennett’s final studio album Grit, originally released in 2003, and widely recognised as a landmark in contemporary Scottish music. The album has been reconstructed by violinist and composer Greg Lawson for a 80 piece hand-picked orchestra of folk, jazz and classical players and singers.
Three of Scotland’s finest and most entertaining musicians, Allan MacDonald, Iain MacLeod and Russell Hunter bring their recount of a series of comic adventures in music and song, inspired by the classic 1964 ‘A Highland Voyage’ album which was based on the original BBC TV series Para Handy. Having caught some unofficial/ unrehearsed versions of these songs in pubs and parties across Edinburgh years ago, you can be assured this will be a very entertaining evening.
We are delighted to see an old Glow Arts pal launch his first solo album ‘VIP’ at the festival! It is a favourite on the wireless at Glow Arts HQ and a very popular purchase from the Emporium. The album is a fantastic collection of songs based on quirky real-life biographies will be performed by album guests Boo Hewerdine (co-writer/ producer), Louis Abbott, Gillian Frame, Kevin Brolly, Alan Train and Hamish Napier. So if you like great singing, songwriting, musicianship and stories this is most definitely a gig not to miss.
Combining one of our favourite Québécois bands and concert venues this is another gig not to be missed. Le Vent Du Nord is no stranger to the festival or the venue – in fact the first time we seen them was on Friday 13th January 2006 on the opening night of the newly refurbished Old Fruitmarket. It was an eventful evening not just because of the fantastic music (they were supporting another GA favourite Lunasa) but also due to the fire alarm that resulted in a full evacuation and the band continuing to play to the audience on the street. This concert is something of a celebration for the bands due to release their 8th album and being joined on stage by Megan Henderson, Patsy Reid, Christine Hanson, Julie Fowlis, Sharon Shannon and Emily Smith.
A truly wonderful and essential afternoon of music, new discoveries and most importantly recovery from the first Saturday night of the Celtic Connections Festival club. Hazy Recollections founded back in 2009 by Findlay Napier, his sister in-law Seonaid Daly and pals as a way to bring together different musical scenes in Glasgow drawing in new audiences and influences, it is now a well established element of Celtic Connections and other festivals such as the Glasgow Americana and Southern Fried Festival in Perth. Each afternoon will see five bands take the stage including a surprise mystery act chosen by the CC festival director. The opening Sunday includes Chrissy Barnacle, Loki and Becci Wallace, Tommy Reilly and Dundee’s The Hazey Janes. Well worth getting out of your bed for!
And finally we are excited and delighted that the infamous Celtic Connections Festival Club will once more be back The Art School! 10 nights of late night music, dancing and nonsense kicks off on Friday 16th February 10.00pm until late. The line-up is always kept top secret so you never know who might appear or what collaborations might take place (Fiddlers Bid with 30 Vikings guests is one memorable evening….as well as the massive end of Festival rammy). Hosted as always by the one and only Kevin MacLeod, if you are looking to get a taste of the festival or catch up with some of the gigs you couldn’t make – this is the place to do it. We are of course the tiniest bit biased with Jennifer being the Festival Club custodian.
Happy Celtic Connections!