10 Must-See Shows at Celtic Connections

Karine Polwart PIC: Michael Gillen
Karine Polwart

Scotsman folk critic Jim Gilchrist picks his highlights of this year’s festival

1. Syne of the Times, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 17 January:
The festival’s opening concert sees creative producer Donald Shaw revisit his Harvest project, with established names joining emerging young talent from Scotland and Galicia.

2. Kathleen MacInnes & amiina, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 19 January:
Smoky-voiced Gaelic singer MacInnes is accompanied by Iceland’s amiina, formerly associated with Nordic rockers Sigur Rós.

3. Jenna Reid & Harris Playfair with Mr McFall’s Chamber, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 20 January:
Highly engaging duo of Shetland fiddler Reid and pianist Playfair joined by the left-field McFall’s Chamber.

4. Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, Mackintosh Church, 24 January: Inspired duo of Welsh harpist and Malian kora player, performing in Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s beautiful Queen’s Cross Church.

5. Julie Fowlis & Duncan Chisholm: An Treas Suaile, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 24 January:
Fowlis and Chisholm’s multi-media commemoration of the Iolaire tragedy, when 201 servicemen drowned yards away from their native Lewis on New Year’s Day 1919.

6. Shooglenifty/Kinnaris Quintet, Barrowland, 25 January:
Glorious mayhem as “acid croft” pioneers Shooglenifty share the bill with the powerful new string quintet.

7. Grace & Danger: A Celebration of John Martyn, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 27 January:
Intriguingly assorted cast including Paul Weller, Eddie Reader and Eric Bibb combine to celebrate the unique talent of the late John Martyn.


8. Karine Polwart & Kris Drever with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, King’s Theatre, 27 January:
Two premier singer-songwriters join the SCO in this historic theatre to perform songs old and new, arranged by Pippa Murphy and Kate St John.

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Bridget St John (Live) French Television 1970

By Johnny Foreigner

Here in the colonies, Bridget St John remains one of the more under-appreciated artists in the British Folk genre. Her voice is not as sweet as Sandy Denny’s, nor possessing the huskiness of latter-day Marianne Faithful, but combines a small scoop of each with a delicious melted Nico topping.
In England during the 1970s, she worked with Kevin Ayers, John Martyn and Mike Oldfield. Her first album, Ask Me No Questions was released in 1969, and during the early seventies, she shared Folk charts and BBC radio time with Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Cat Stevens and Fairport Convention.

Born in Surrey, England, she lived periodically in London, Aix-en-Provence, France, eventually landing in Greenwich Village, New York, only to decide to take the next 20 years off from performing.

This small concert made for French television in 1970 is quite wonderful. Listen, and appreciate Bridget’s je ne sais quoi.