The 21st world-renowned Celtic Connections festival kicks off in less than two months! Celtic Connections 2014 will truly come of age this January with an 18 day programme filled to the brim with incomparable entertainment that represents genres and styles from across the musical spectrum.
The festival will take place in 17 venues right across the city, including the brand new SSE Hydro. Tickets are selling fast across all of the venues with people getting in there quickly before the Christmas rush.
New Shows Added to Line-Up
There have been a number of new shoes added to the programme for Celtic Connections 2014.
Celtic Connections would hardly be the same without a performance from festival stalwarts Cherish the Ladies. Their show next January marks 20th anniversary of their first appearance on the Concert Hall stage. Titled Best of the West this show will see the celebrated Irish-American sorority of Joanie Madden (flute/whistles), Mary Coogan (guitar), Mirella Murray (accordion), Kathleen Boyle (piano) and Grainne Murphy (fiddle) joined by special guests highlighting the rich musical heritage of western Ireland. These include former Cherish vocalist Cathie Ryan, fellow Galway balladeers Don Stiffe and Matt Keane, fiddler Nollaig Casey and Danú’s Donnadgh Gough on bodhran and uilleann pipes, with the customary squad of world-class step-dancers completing a spectacular line-up.
Since her 2007 US debut release Mi Niña Lola, Buika has been an unstoppable force in Latin music, likened to such timeless divas as Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf and Nina Simone. The Mallorca-born daughter of political refugees from Equatorial Guinea, she grew up absorbing local flamenco traditions alongside her parents’ jazz and African records. Buika’s magnificently earthy voice has featured in collaborations with Anoushka Shankar, Mariza, Seal and Nelly Furtado, while her own Latin Grammy-winning recordings have encompassed Cuban, house, Mexican and pop elements.
The acclaimed young Cape Verdean singer and songwriter Mayra Andrade likewise draws on wide-ranging influences: born in Cuba, she travelled widely before settling amid Paris’s world music scene, while her new, pop-inclined album Lovely Difficult includes guest appearances from Israeli, French, English and US artists.
Cult French reggae collective Dub Inc will perform an amalgamation of reggae elements from ska to dancehall with African, Arabic and Berber elements. Their powerful twin lead vocals and their combative lyrics combine to defiantly sidestep the mainstream and spread their message of diversity, tolerance and freedom.
The KM Hindustani Ensemble and the Lewis Psalm Singers will perform in the beautiful surroundings of the KelvingroveArtGallery and Museum. Founded by the world-renowned Indian composer and musician A.R. Rahman (of Slumdog Millionaire Fame) the KM Music Conservatory in Chennai offers a pioneering study programme combining India’s 2500-year-old classical tradition with Western music and music technology. Its Hindustani Classical Music Ensemble, which features up to 20 singers, seeks to revive ancient choral styles of raag singing, vibrantly interwoven with instrumentation including piano and violin. As with much Indian music, Scottish Gaelic psalm singing remains, at its heart, a mode of worship rather than performance, expressed through each congregation member’s individual tempos and ornamentation as they sing back the psalms line by line together, creating the uniquely spine-tingling sonic surge which has been described as one of the most extraordinary vocal sounds in the world. The tradition’s foremost exponents, the Lewis Psalm Singers, are led by long-time precentor Calum Martin, with both choirs performing individually, before what is sure to be an emotional collaborative finale.
One of the best-loved figures on Glasgow’s music scene since the 1990s, guitarist (and now singer) RM Hubbert was seen by some as a surprise winner of 2013′s Scottish Album of the Year Award, for the quietly stunning, magically diverse Thirteen Lost & Found but true cognoscenti considered it no more than just reward – an opinion powerfully affirmed by recent follow-up Breaks & Bone. Tonight he appears with the Cairn String Quartet. Supporting RM Hubbert on this bill is Arab Strap moiety Aidan Moffat will open the show with a spoken-word set of his poetry and short prose, interwoven with deviously meandering background anecdotes.
The son of a Minnesota preacher, singer-songwriter Cory Chisel will headline his own concert at the Oran mor. He was raised on hymns and Johnny Cash, plus his uncle’s vintage blues collection, before discovering classic inspirations like Otis Redding, Tom Waits and Townes Van Zandt. All these timeless influences, catalysed by Chisel’s resonantly weathered vocals and incisive lyrics, simmer beneath his latest album Old Believers, produced by The Raconteurs’ Brendan Benson. Supporting Cory Chisel is hotly-tipped Edinburgh balladeer Adam Holmes who crafts lyrics that resonate like old folk songs, set to melodies rooted in haunting slow airs. Tonight’s show, featuring his regular band, launches the CD version of his breathtaking debut album Heirs and Graces, recorded with legendary John Martyn/Nick Drake producer John Wood.
The Celtic connections between Scotland and Asturias in Spain have been celebrated at the festival since its earliest days, so it’s fantastic to launch concert for the Albastur Cultural Exchange (ACE), a new project instigated by leading Scottish fiddler Simon Bradley – who’s long worked with top Asturian band Llan de Cubel – to encourage active sharing of sounds and traditions between musicians and audiences in both places. Together with Bradley and his regular trio partners, fiddler Anna-Wendy Stevenson and guitarist Matheu Watson, the line-up features Llan de Cubel piper Xuan Rodriguez and fiddler Lisardo Prieto, of fellow Asturian favourites Felpeyu.
Also added to the Celtic Connections programme is collaborative show Shinty’s Heroes which was first performed at the 2013 Blas festival, on the eve of last September’s Camanachd Cup final and as a prelude to 2014′s Great War. This show celebrates many leading shinty players’ authentically heroic role in the 1914-18 conflict, stories often largely unknown outwith their Highland home areas. Combining music with narration and archive photographs, the show also incorporates a whistlestop tour through shinty history. Gary Innes leads an 11-strong cast of musicians with strong connections to the game, including Duncan Chisholm, Kathleen MacInnes, Allan Henderson, Iain MacFarlane, Norrie MacIver and of course Fergie MacDonald, author of recent chart-topping hit ‘The Shinty Referee’.
Minnesota five-piece Trampled by Turtles will be headlining at the O2 ABC. Trampled by Turtles were originally formed as a bluegrass side project, by a motley crew of rock musicians who’d never played bluegrass before. They certainly had the last laugh when their 2010 album Palomino debuted at the top of the bluegrass charts and staying in the Top 10 for over a year. Hazing blazed their trail as turbocharged progressive firebrands, they also showed a maturing softer side on 2012’s Stars and Satellites.
Debademba will warm up the crowd the giant of world music, Manu Dibango. Debademba, meaning ‘big family’ in West Africa’s Bambara language, centres of the core duo of Burkinq Faso-born guitarist Abdoulaye Traoré and Ivoirian/Malian griot singer Mohamed Diaby, who bring together a mix of African styles rooted in Mandingo culture, while also influenced by the cultural crossroads of Paris, where both are now based. Also drawing on afrobeat, highlife and mbalax, together with Arabic, blues, Latin and funk elements, the resulting sound is a treat for heart, soul and feet.
Having played a linchpin role in two of Celtic Connections’ most acclaimed recent sellouts, 2012’s Gerry Rafferty tribute Bring It All Home and the following year’s paean to Michael Marra, All Will Be Well, veteran Scottish singer-songwriter Rab Noakes steps centre stage with a double helping of his own material, spanning 40 years of his richly varied career. After a first-half-performance of his 1973 album Red Pump Special, recorded in Nashville with legendary producer Elliot Mazer, he’ll preview his imminent newest release I’m Walkin’ Here, which features guest vocalists Emma Pollock, Jill Jackson, Alice Marra, Roddy Hart and Barbara Dickson.
Multi-award winning Scottish quintet Rura will be supporting Latin/Celtic fusion group Salsa Celtica at the O2 ABC. Rura will combine terrific instrumental firepower – on Highland pipes, whistle, flute, fiddle, bodhran and guitar – with matching finesse and subtlety, not least in Adam Holmes’s haunting vocal numbers.
Step into my Parlour is the brainchild of former lead singer of Cherish the Ladies, Michelle Burke. This show is an enchanting blend of old Irish songs and touching family stories set in a quirky parlour setting. Burke’s Step Into My Parlour was inspired by discovering her great grandmother’s scrapbook of photos and newspaper clippings. For this special Celtic Connections soirèe, an extra complement of guests will be performing including legendary musician and tall-tale raconteur Cathal McConnell and the brilliant Cork singer-songwriter John Spillane, with top-notch accompaniment from James Ross, Anna Massie and Kathleen Boyle.
Unique performance at the Festival
The Cauld Wind Blaws Big is the latest exciting evolution in an ongoing collaboration between Shetland fiddler Chris Stout, Glasgow piper Finlay MacDonald and the ScottishPower Pipe Band (as featured in Celtic Connections’ 2013 opening concert), The Cauld Wind Blaws Big expands the musical canvas to place all four of Scotland’s national instruments – bagpipes, fiddle, clarsach and voice – firmly in the foreground. They’ll be heard in all their diverse guises and glories from ancient to modern, exquisitely pared-down to resplendently en masse, with other instrumental and vocal soloists including Catriona McKay and Darren Maclean, and a star-studded folk/orchestral string ensemble completing the line-up.
Also being performed on this bill is Undivided, a co-commission by Celtic Connections and the PRS Foundation, which will see the innovative brass player Neil Yates going head-to-head with Michael McGoldrick, on flutes, whistles and uilleann pipes. They’re backed by a 21-piece folk/jazz orchestra that includes Dezi Donnelly, Emma Sweeney and Alan Kelly.
Festival legends Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham will be performing in the Celtic Fiddle Festival show as a tribute to the late, great Johnny Cunningham, one of the co-founders of the Celtic Fiddle Festival. While Johnny and original guitarist John McGann are sadly no longer with us, their two co-founders back in 1993 Ireland’s Kevin Burke and Brittany’s Christian Lemaître continue to carry the concept forward, their grandmaster prowess as evergreen as the trans-Celtic showcase format. Completing this line-up are ex-La Bottine Souriante/De Temps Antan fiddler André Brunet and celebrated Breton guitarist Nicolas Quemener.
The Gaelic tradition will once again be celebrated at Celtic Connections 2014.
Cluaidh’s a’ Cho-Fhlaitheas: The Clyde and the Commonwealth will be a classic Celtic Connections ceilidh with a cosmopolitan twist. This show will celebrate Glasgow’s Gaelic heritage and the Clyde’s historic role as a gateway to the Commonwealth. It will feature a stellar assembly of Gaelic vocal talent, including Cathy Ann MacPhee, James Graham, Gillebrìde MacMillan, Ceitlin L R Smith and both the junior and adult Glasgow Gaelic Choirs. Under Brian McAlpine’s musical direction, John Carmichael, Fergie MacDonald and Charlie Kirkpatrick head a bumper line-up of Scottish dance-band supremos, in a show which promises a musical and visual journey taking in Canada, Australia, India, South Africa and New Zealand.
Once again, Celtic Connections will be working in partnership with Ceòl’s Craic – a vibrant social hub and platform for contemporary Gaelic culture in Glasgow based in The Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA). Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Glasgow’s Gaelic club night Ceòl’s Craic and in partnership with Gaels le Chèile, this Scottish and Irish ceilidh/céilí also highlights the city’s strong historic and contemporary links with both countries’ Gaeltacht. As well as a debut performance by the aptly-named Urban Teuchters, aka award-winning South Uist expats Kathleen MacInnes and Sineag MacIntyre, a packed me includes ex-Bumblebees harpist Laoise Kelly, Donegal-descended Glaswegians The Friel Sisters – launching their debut album – and accordionist Paddy Callaghan, Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2013, enjoying the last days of his reign before February’s 2014 final.
Amongst its many red-letter days, 2014 marks 300 years since the birth of Sutherland bard, Rob Donn. A contemporary of Robert Burns, the works of the two are often likened for their wit, eloquence and biting satire. The spark of humour and creativity lives on as Sutherland musicians, James Graham, Catriona MacLeod, Rhona Sutherland, Carol-Anne MacKay and Suzanne Houston, with special guests celebrate his life and work alongside a new commission entitled Drìne based on some of his best-loved poems.
Gaeldom’s great Isle of Skye singing dynasty, The Campbells of Greepe, return to the Celtic Connections festival with a brand-new album, No. 2 Greepe. Their debut recording topped the Sunday Times world music choices of the year in 2012 and a landmark biography and music collection awarded Gaelic Book of the Year in 2013. Mary Ann will be joined by mother, Kenna, and uncle Seumas Campbell, sister Wilma Kennedy and cousin Maggie Macdonald – with guests from No. 2 Greepe, ‘Brave’ piper Lorne MacDougall, Finlay Wells on guitar, Euan Burton on bass and the glorious step-dancing talents of John Sikorski.
Celtic Connections will have a strong piping strand running through it in 2014 with a number of concerts dedicated to the national instrument.
Celtic Connections long-established piping concert will once again grace the main auditorium stage. the sublime Scottish/Irish pairing of Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson celebrate the release of their dazzling second album Air-Fix, while Oban’s much-garlanded Angus MacColl steps out solo as only he can, and the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland showcase their latest innovative repertoire. Elsewhere on the bill, a taster of Callum MacCrimmon’s vocal and instrumental suite Boraraig will be showcased. The suite draws on equal inspiration from his illustrious piping clan’s ancestral lands on Skye, and his own cosmopolitan musical travels. Originally commissioned by the 2013 Blas festival, it also features Eilidh Shaw (fiddle), Mischa MacPherson (clarsach/vocals), Ewan MacPherson (guitar/mandolin), James Lindsay (double bass) and Gaelic singer Darren MacLean.
There will be the chance to hear the whole of Calum MacCrimmon’s Boraraig later in the festival in the iconic Mitchell Library.
Twice crowned Live Act of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards, The Peatbog Faeries possess cast-iron party credentials second to none. They return to Celtic Connections together with their full sizzling brass section, in addition to the six core Faeries themselves, splicing jigs and reels with jazz, hip-hop, reggae, rave, Latin and African sounds, while cranking up the euphoria yet further with a stunning new light and laser show.
Piper Budiño’s roots lie firmly within the Galician tradition, however his influences include contemporary sounds such as jazz, classical, pop and Flamenco and he has shared the stage with the likes of Van Morrison, Jerry Gonzalez, Jorge Pardo, Capercaillie and Lorient’s Symphonic Orchestra.
The first Friday of the festival will celebrate the Celtic kinship between Scotland and Wales with musicians DnA and Gwyneth Glyn performing at the Tron Theatre. This line-up showcases some of the most exciting acts on today’s Welsh folk scene. As their name suggests – meanwhile fortuitously punning on their first initials – recently-formed duo DnA comprise Delyth Jenkins, one of Wales’s foremost harp players, and her daughter Angharad, fiddler with the hotly-tipped Calan, coming together in the sweetest of family harmony on a mix of traditional and original material.
Singer, poet and all-round Renaissance woman Gwyneth Glyn’s recent projects range from an opera libretto to collaborating with Indian musicians, but here she focuses on her folk-rooted self-penned solo work. Further acts will be announced nearer the time.
Collaboration with other Partners
The National Theatre of Scotland, in partnership with the National Trust for Scotland present A Little Bird Blown Off Course by Fiona J MacKenzie. Originally presented in partnership with the Blas Festival, to critical acclaim in September 2013 – A Little Bird Blown Off Course celebrates both the life of Pittsburgh-born folklorist Margaret Fay Shaw (1903-2004) and the priceless archive of Hebridean culture she amassed. Its creator and central performer, Fiona J Mackenzie, combines live music and song, plus film and photographs from the archive, to cast fresh light on the importance of this collection to Gaelic culture past and present.
In a new collaboration between Celtic Connections and the Glasgow Film Festival, tonight’s music/movie double bill centres on the première feature-length screening of An Drochaid/The Bridge Rising, a lively documentary account of the ten-year battle against the SkyeBridge tolls. A Scottish/Canadian co-production previously broadcast in shorter form on BBC Alba, with the full cinematic story supported by Creative Scotland, it follows the many twists and turns of events through the words of the protagonists themselves, from protesters to prosecutors, engineers to financiers, politicians to police officers, uncovering several surprises in the telling. The film’s score, by leading CapeBreton composer and guitarist Scott MacMillan, features his fiddle-wielding compatriot Colin Grant with Scotland’s Angus MacDonald, Arthur Cormack, and Mary-Ann Kennedy, as well as MacMillan himself. Heralding the soundtrack’s album release, they’ll perform excerpts ahead of the screening, which will be followed by a Q&A session.
More Dates Announced
A second night has been announced for Glasgow legend James Grant. Having latterly been relishing the full rock’n’roll experience of fronting Love and Money again since the band’s unforgettable first reunion show at Celtic Connections 2011 – and picking up rave reviews for their new 2013 album The Devil’s Debt, James Grant returns to the festival for a rare solo acoustic show, spanning his lengthy back catalogue and previewing tracks from his next solo album.
Changes to the Programme
Due to unforeseen circumstances Tim Finn – White Cloud will no longer be performed at Celtic Connections 2013. Elliott Morris, who was the support act on this bill, will be performing elsewhere at the festival. Exact details of when he will be performing instead will be available in the next couple of weeks.
Workshops at Celtic Connections 2014
The public workshops, which take place during weekends at the festival, prove to be very popular each year.
Since 1996 there have been over 270 Come&Try workshops throughout the festival for all ages and all ability levels to get involved in traditional music and song. Over the years, the Come&Try’s have remained incredibly popular and in many cases have led people on to a lifelong love of whichever instrument they chose to take up. Celtic Connections 2014 are introducing some brand new Come&Trys. There will be Come&Try Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) with Sine Maclean and Come&Try Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic) with Peadar Ó Muircheartaigh. There will also be a Come&Try Bones with the well known bones player Yirdy Machar.
Other firsts include the masterclass The Language of International Music which will be hosted by Sidiki Diabate and Walter Strauss and a whole weekend devoted to learning the ukulele.
The CelticConnectionsSongSchool will return to the stunning surroundings of KelvingroveArtGallery and Museum in 2014 and will feature singers from various different styles of singing. People are invited to come for the whole weekend and attend 4 workshops or they can drop in to individual workshops.
For the festival in 2014, we will welcome the return of The Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas for the Fiddle Village which will run over the middle weekend of the festival. Fraser and Haas will hold a special two day Trad Music Masterclass based on the fiddle music of Scotland and beyond