Celtic Festival Has all the Right Connections - World and Folk Stars Descend on Glasgow, Jan 2010
One of Scotland's, nay Britain's, biggest music celebration hits Glasgow in 2010, January to be exact. Celtic Connections has been an inclusion in the music calendar since 1994 and has attracted some considerable names to various venues across the city. Last year (2009), names such as Branford Marsalis, Youssou N'Dour, Nanci Griffith, Cerys Matthews, Martha Wainwright and Michael Nyman paraded their talents for all to see, a pretty varied bunch I'm sure you will agree!
Celtic Connections 2010
The 2010 Celtic Connections will run from January 14th to the 31st and hasn't scrimped on quality, even in these economically-challenged times. There are also plenty of free attractions including the spectacular torch-lit procession through the city streets on the opening night. From George Street to the Concert Hall's steps, pipers will lead the blazing masses of people before the festival is declared officially open. At 7.30pm, the first gig takes place in the form of the Celtic Connections Opening Concert inside the aforementioned Royal Hall. Tickets cost £20 for an extravaganza of over 4 dozen Scottish fiddlers, harpists, pipers and singers all doing a turn.
We just don't have the room to feature EVERY single performer over the remaining fortnight (there are rumoured to be over 1000 artists appearing) but here is a pick of the stand-outs.
Whistle and flute maestro, Michael McGoldrick, brings his full band to the Glasgow O2 ABC on Friday 15th January (£15) to perform pieces from "Aurora", a sweeping work of fiddles, trumpets, percussion and big band sounds. In support is the songwriter behind Paul Weller's favourite tune, 'Galileo', Declan O'Rourke. The baritone man will perform songs from his recent "Big Bad Beautiful World" / "Since Kyabram" successes. On the same night, New-York's Nell Bryden brings her vibrant splash of jazz, country and soul to the Classic Grand (£12.50), as well as an A-listed place on Radio 2's playlist for the song, 'What Does It Take?'.
The Swell Season
Two class acts play the City Halls (Grand Hall) on the 16th and I urge you to get there early to see the first band, The Lost Brothers. Their acoustic songs recall Bon Iver and REM (early) and their top-notch 2008 album, 'Trails Of The Lonely', slipped cruelly under the radar. The Swell Season are the main act - this is the evocative folkier project of The Frames' Glen Harsard and worth the £18 admission. A more traditional event takes place at the Oran Mor venue down the road with the awesome Niamh Ni Charra and John McSherry Quartet (£12.50).
Oran Mor features quite often during the fortnight - Laura Veirs brings her Kirstin Hersh-esque twists-and-turns to the venue on the 17th (£12.50). The darling of the indie-college scene in the US, she has more facets then just playing frat-rock, she sings sweetly and spicily in equal measure.
The following week kicks off with acapella and jazz-virtuoso, Bobby McFerrin, appearing at the Royal Concert Hall on the 18th (£24), Fyfe Dangerfield at the O2 ABC on the 20th (£13), premier folkers, Wolfstone at the O2 ABC on the 22nd (£15), Angelique Kidjo at the Old Fruitmarket on the 22nd as well (£16) and rounds off with Dick Gaughan/Dave Swarbrick sharing the same bill at the O2 ABC Glasgow on the 23rd (£15), and Boo Hewerdine (The Bible) doing his mellow acoustic thing at the Tron Theatre (£12.50).
The second festival week's main highlights are Ry Cooder and The Chieftains getting cosy at the Royal Concert Hall on Tuesday 26th (£30), ECM's majestic pairing of Trilok Gurtu and Jan Garbarek making sweet, sweet music at the Royal Concert Hall on the 27th (£20), 10000 Maniacs mentor, Natalie Merchant at the same venue on the 28th (£20), Garbarek returning to Glasgow (City Hall) on the 28th (£16), the amazing The Low Anthem also on the 28th (Old Fruitmarket, £16) and a 15th anniversary concert for Glasgow's seminal record-label, Chemikal Underground, starring members of that label's roster - expect some Arab Strap and The Delgados. Yum and just £15 at the O2 ABC.
Every day and night has numerous workshops, talks, performances and late-night sessions in and around the city, so make Glasgow a destination in the New Year. Further details can be found at the Celtic Connections website.
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