Saturday, 10 January 2015

Celtic Connections - bringing the world together.

My preview of this year's Celtic Connections festival is printed in today's Morning Star, here. They have made some (entirely legitimate) editorial changes to my original article - mainly reordering the concerts thematically rather than by date. However, I thought I'd put my original up here - not because I think it is better written (it isn't), but because in the editing the date of Arthur Johnstone's concert has been lost (it is on the 31 Jan), and more importantly, the point that I was making about the significance of the Horizon's project in bringing together music from the nations of the British Isles, has been somewhat obscured. Here is the original.

In 2015's programme, Celtic Connections Donald Shaw suggests that for some parts of the world, 'music is the best hope of bringing people together', and acts from Van Morrison to the Congo's Konono No 1 show the festival's success in that.

While he probably doesn't mean to include the UK, there is at least one event that seeks to do exactly
Kate Rusby
that. Horizons (16 Jan) is an intriguing partnership promoting music from the British Isles' constituent nations. The concert features Karine Polwart (Scotland), Kate Rusby (England), Damien O'Kane (NI), the Republic's Declan O'Rourke, and Welsh balladeer Al Lewis (playing with Alva Leigh).

Sam Sweeney's Fiddle (16 & 17 January) is a multi-media performance about a fiddle bought by Sam Sweeney, whose maker turned out to have died in the First World War. The performance will also feature Sweeney's Bellowhead band mates, Paul Sartin, Rob Habron, and storyteller Hugh Lupton.

One of the Festival's international acts are Canzionere Grecanico Salentino (23 Jan). A band from the 'heel' of Italy, they blend music, song and dance to deliver the unique cultural tradition of the region's mixed history.

Ewan MacColl
A major feature must be the concert of Ewan MacColl's music (Blood and Roses 25 Jan). Curated by his sons Calum and Neil, the concert includes performances by Kate St John, Dick Gaughan, Martin and Eliza Carthy and Karine Polwart.

Craig Armstrong is a local Shettleston boy who now writes music for Baz Luhrman's films, winning many awards. He's worked with U2, Madonna, Texas, Tina Turner et al and he's still based in Glasgow. Here he plays latest album It's Nearly Tomorrow, with the Scottish Opera orchestra and guests (27 Jan).

Arthur Johnstone
Political singer, Arthur Johnstone invites guests from his original band, the Laggan, the Stars Band, Tommy Sands, actor David Hayman and many others, to celebrate his enduring contribution to working people's struggles (31 Jan). Arthur deserves the widest recognition and the concert's sell out testifies to his enduring popularity.

Also sold out is Frances Black and Kieran Goss's return to their 1992 partnership (27 Jan) although a second night has been added (26 Jan). 2015 may be shaping up to be another success story. Listings and tickets -

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