Friday, 20 January 2017

An embarrassment of riches - Celtic Connections '17 Preview

This is a preview piece for this year's Celtic Connections, that was printed in the Morning Star on Thursday (19 Jan). The link to the article on line doesn't seem to be working, so here (with a little updating) is the article as written. Updating as well, prompts me to mention that fact that the Lions of Lisbon, has not only had to have an extra performance scheduled, but both are now sold out! Never mind, it will appear later in the year. Watch - as they say - this space
Rab Noakes
Having an embarrassment of riches is sometimes a mixed blessing. Imagine being a concert scheduler with Celtic Connections – the very successful music festival that started in Glasgow on Thursday. With the acts attending, clashes must be a perennial concern. This year on one night (2 Feb) you could see Orchestre Baobab, Eliza Carthy, Rab Noakes and Martin Green’s impressive collaboration, Flit, except you couldn’t of course, because they’re all on at the same time.
Still, there are plenty of other shows that are worth seeing, in particular the re-emergence of Shirley
Shirley Collins (photo Eva Vermandel)
Collins (4 Feb), who has released her first new album for 38 years. She leads a strong female presence at this year’s festival. Highlights include Mary Chapin Carpenter (30 Jan), Martha Wainwright (3 Feb), Sharon Shannon (3 Feb), rising star Siobhan Miller (26 Jan) and the ubiquitous Karine Polwart - her Wind Resistance performance spreads over four days (24-28 Jan) at the Tron. Even the Roaming Roots Review this year concentrates on Women of Song (28 Jan).
This year also has a sense of ‘back to traditional folk’, not just the reappearance of Shirley Collins after 35 years, but a concert from Tom Paxton (25 Jan) and both Fairport Convention (24 Jan) and Rab Noakes (2 Feb) celebrating 50 years performing.
Having said that, there is also plenty of new talent performing at this year’s festival. CDuncan (26 Jan) has already created a stir, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Southern Tenant Folk Union (30 Jan). It is often the ‘outside’ venues that break these new acts, and this year brings a couple of new venues to Celtic Connections in South Glasgow’s Glad CafĂ© and the West End’s Hug and Pint.
Finally, if you are ‘all folked out’ and fancy something a little different, two important British composers feature this year. Eclectic composer, singer and clarinettist, Anna Meredith is on 4 Feb, and Craig Armstrong and Calum Martin present the outcome of their collaboration to write new music inspired by Hebridean psalm singing (3 Feb).
Too much music? How about a day at the footie? FairPley are reviving The Lions of Lisbon, the play by Willy Maley and Ian Auld about Celtic’s triumph in the European Cup 50 years ago! (29 Jan - two performances). Get tickets on line at