A blog from Chris Bartter, trade union writer and communications expert in Scotland,
This blog is a small contribution in opposition to the right-wing consensus in the media, and will. hopefully, campaign for working people and public services.
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Sunday, 17 January 2016
The Carrying Stream - Celtic Connections 1
This is the first of a series of reviews of Celtic Connections concerts. I'm doing a couple of summary reviews for the Morning Star (and indeed did a preview piece here.) but I thought some of these concerts deserve a full review to themselves. Here is the first, of the opening concert
The 50th anniversary of an association formed to promote and
preserve Scottish Traditional music sounds a bit 'worthy', conjuring up images
of bearded men in Aran jumpers! But the difference between the image and the
reality of traditional music in Scotland is soon exposed. Celtic Connections'
opening concert for 2016 was directed by young singer Siobhan Miller - Radio 2
folk singer of the year a few years back, and twice winner of the Scots
Singer of The Year award at the Scottish Trad music Awards. And the TMSA is at
least as concerned with nurturing new talent as preserving old. That is
immediately obvious from the impressive opening from he National Youth Pipe
Band, backed up by the amplified guitars of the house band!
The concert also varies between standards from the Scottish
traditional music scene, like Shepheard, Speirs and Watson, and Adam MacNaughon
and more recent innovators like Kris Drever, sparky Gaelic singer Mischa
Macpherson and - youngest of the lot! - the Ceilidh Trail Band, just back from
a tour 'to see how professional musicians can survive' as MC Mark Stevens put
it. Any illusion that only Scots from the Highlands are part of the 'carrying
stream' was also put to rest with slots from US singer Rayna Gellart and - even
further out - Londoner Sam Lee!
Stalwarts of the Scottish folk scene there were in plenty - Arthur
Johnstone and Brian Miller, Sheena Wellington (reprising her Scottish
Parliament-opening A Man's a Man),
Barbara Dickson, Malinky and surprise (and welcome) guests, Aly Bain and Phil
Cunninghame, but the real strength of the TMSA is its willingness to absorb and
protect traditional acts while nurturing and developing new talent. It is that
which enabled Siobhan Miller to get away with bringing Barbara Dickson on for
only one song. It is that which led the packed stalls of the Royal Concert Hall
to welcome every act with warmth and affection, and it is that which meant the
packed stage could sign off with Freedom
Come All Ye and The Parting Glass without
a false start.