GLASGOW’S Celtic Connections is an annual celebration of folk, indie, world and traditional music with artists from all over attending to display their unique and vibrant music. With over 300 events to attend over 20 venues, we’ve picked out ten of the best over the next two weeks.
Pilgrimer, the novelist and poet of James Robertson, will display his influence of Joni Mitchell by adapting her folk jazz album Hejira into a Scottish setting. The show will be split into two, offering Mitchell’s greatest hits in the second half with a sparkling cast, including the album’s original guitarist Larry Carlton. Make sure you’re down to the Royal Concert Hall on the 16th January.
Certain events during the two weeks will be repeated, including Hazy Recollections; this event in particular will exhibit a concoction of indie, roots, folk, and country, all on a chilled Sunday afternoon at O2 ABC. Scottish folk trio Something Someone and Teen Canteen, the latter most recently thrilled on the T Break stage at T in the Park.
Sunday 24th January will include Michael Cassidy, who won the Gerry Rafferty Songwriting Award and folk stars Have Mercy Las Vegas. The final week on 31st January features hot stars Bella and the Bear, alongside Scottish singer-songwriter Donna Maciocia, who perfects a distinctive style of beatboxing over a kazoo and ukulele.
If you’re intrigued to learn how songwriters get their inspiration, it will be worth popping down to Platform for the Fields of Green: Songwriter’s Circle on the 21st January. Scottish songwriters Rachel Sermanni, RM Hubbert, Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow, The Pictish Trail and Jo Mango will reveal a selection of new songs inspired by their lives as a touring musician in a traditional forum-style circle to have a live conversation about their individual opinions on writing music. The best of all, it’s only £12.
Edinburgh indie band Bwani Junction will be undertaking the difficult task of paying tribute and celebrating the 30th anniversary of Paul Simon’s Graceland. The band, whose style has a hand in roots, will be replicating the album that paved a way for the dissemination of world music to a mainstream audience. Several South African musicians who featured on the initial recording of the album will accompany the band during the show on the 23rd January at the Old Fruitmarket.
With a new album on the horizon, Emma Pollock will serenade her group of endearingly dedicated fans with songs from her Delgados days, previous solo work and the new songs. There’s spiky guitars, evocative lyrics and heart-warming musicianship to be had in this intimate show, that also includes one of Canada’s boldest solo musicians Mo Kenney. Pop down to the Oran Mór on January 29th for a night of harmonious company.
Admiral Fallow had a busy 2015, and they’re not stopping in the early days of 2016. After a prolific slot at last year’s T in the Park and releasing their third album Tiny Rewards, this appearance at Celtic Connections could be a breathtaking homecoming for the Glasgow band at the Old Fruitmarket. There’s perhaps no better way to close your festival than heading along to one of Scotland’s best flourishing indie acts alongside Belle and Sebastian on 30th January.
If the indie rock maestros of Admiral Fallow is not quite your thing, then Monogram’s DIY indie pop might do the trick. The Hug and Pint is hosting a variety of bands throughout the Celtic Connections, including Three Blind Wolves, Frog & Friends and Airwaves, but none of them can boast as much as Monogram. In a similar fashion to East India Youth, the artist hailing from the Scottish Borders combines his distinguishing vocals and instantly recognisable beats to produce a incessantly warm and fascinating of endless self-composition.
But if you want to properly leave the festival with a huge grin on your face, head along to the Royal Concert Hall to celebrate the life of acoustic blues and folk legend Bert Jansch. Named by Neil Young as his favourite acoustic guitar player, his influence lingers in this star-studded performance that includes rock god Robert Plant, Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, and Blur’s Graham Coxon. The show is to announce more appearances and will be in aid of the Bert Jansch Foundation that works with emerging acoustic artists. This will be the final show of the festival on the 1st February.
If you need a bit of unpredictability mixed with some variety throughout one night during the festival, Late Night Sessions at Drygate Brewery could be up your avenue. It’s almost like the Late Show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where you get an assortment of comedy acts like it’s a pick and mix that someone else is choosing for you. Head to the brewery every Friday and Saturday (and Sunday 24th January) at half 10 to see Findlay Napier unveil his mixed bag for the very reasonable price of a fiver.
Alternatively, if you’re still feeling lucky, The Festival Club at The Art School every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday offers a random miscellany of musical acts that play on until late, way past all the normal festivities during the day to give you a continuous fix of music. All that you prior to spending £9 on your ticket is that Kevin Macleod will be hosting, and that there will be a lot of jamming.