Saturday, 31 January 2015

At this Festival, Connections are Key

-->My Review of the Celtic Connections concert featuring Luka Bloom and Bella Hardy was in Wednesday's Morning Star. it can be found here.
Another  concert that the Star hasn't had the space to print, but I felt deserved to be published is one from Friday 23 January at the O2ABC, featuring two bands - Canzionere Grecanico Salentino, and Complete. While their connections to Scotland and Celtic Music are not immediately apparent, they nevertheless became evident!
Celtic Connections is often criticised for including acts who seem to have little connection to ‘Celtic’ music. Friday’s concert from Canzionere Grecanico Salentino (right) – a band from Puglia in Italy making their first appearance in Glasgow - showed that the connections may be more than is immediately obvious. 
Given their origin (and name) you might be expecting influences from Greece and North Africa – and you would be right! You might not expect bagpipes and bodhran’s – but you got ‘em (well, OK the bodhran’s were really large tambourines)! The pipes were shorn of drones and had grown a second chanter, but the sound was unmistakable.
The performance, too, had links to Scotland in its emphasis on dance. Salento in Puglia is after all home to the Tarantella – and dancer Silvia Perrone was a classic exponent of the pizzica tarantata. The music had the rhythm and intricateness of ceilidh bands while Maria Mazzotta’s vocals came from Greece via North Africa and the Iberian peninsula (think flamenco song meets fado). The audience were on their feet early in the set, clearly infused with the infectious rhythms. Many stayed dancing throughout.
A different set of connections were in evidence from support group, Complete (left). A South African a cappella group in the Isicathamiya style they varied South African songs with some lesser known African standards like Paul Macartney’s Yesterday, and even My Yiddische Momma! A great version of (Ladysmith Black Mambazo) Joseph Shabalala’s Homeless namechecked one influence - and their link with Hugh Masekela – took us back to their appearance with the great man at last year’s Nelson Mandela International Day concert.
It is in the nature of music to be repeated round the world, to be adapted and to link peoples. This festival is showing that its Connections are at least as important as its Celtic.

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