Scotland is renowned for its festivals and the mighty Celtic Connections in Glasgow is no exception. Running over 2 weeks and with over 2100 performers it’s a celebration of Celtic music in all its glory.
With so many acts playing each night it’s different to get to see them all (and with the Festival Club going strong until 4am it’s difficult to remember them all!) but highlights have included the enchanting King Creosote at a sold –out and then hot-footing it to the Concert Hall to catch the encore of Session A9, a 7-piece band with four fiddlers, in turns slow and haunting and fast and furious!
Kan, who have two of my favourite musicians in their line up: Brian Finnegan from Flook and Aidan O’Rourke from Lau, played a fantastic set in the Arches to mark the release of their debut album Sleeper – catch them if you can!
A surprise hit were the Sweetback Sisters, a honky-tonk band from America, fronted by two charismatic and rocking unrelated girls, but it was no surprise that the Ross Ainslie & Jarleth Henderson trios were the hit of Saturday night, the best pipers I have ever seen, and great to hear they will be working together again.
I’ve been lucky enough to be here as a Showcase Scotland delegate so, as well as seeing hordes of great Scottish talent, we get a sneaky look behind the scenes and get treated to intimate concerts in the Glasgow Art Club, the most breathtaking of which was the Gaelic showcase. Four amazing bands wowed us, and it’s amazing how many pipers you can get on a small stage! Special mention to Sketch, who look set to blow the festival scene away with their high energy electronically driven folk, and Cruinn, who sing beautifully crafted Gaelic songs.
Each year Celtic Connections invite another country to be their partner at the festival. This year it was Catalonia (if you ever get a chance to see Sol i Serena next time they are over here do!) and Sunday marked the handover to the 2013 partner – England.
The reception was a typically understated English affair with tea & scones, but the Newcastle Kingsman Rapper Team soon livened the room (complete with fake hand) and youth orchestra Folkestra wowed us all. Spotlight England will highlight the diverse range of English music, much of which will be familiar to Arts Centre visitors with acts such as Bellowhead, Demon Barbers & Jim Moray.
More Gaelic music beckons tonight in the form of Manrun, and a bit of theatre with Woody Sez at the Tron, then back to the Late Night Sessions!