Celtic Connections review: Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, The Mackintosh Church, Glasgow 

CHARLES Rennie Mackintosh’s Queen’s Cross Church, with its elegant synthesis of art nouveau, Scots baronial and Japanese influences, made an appropriate setting for the magical cross-cultural convergence of Welsh classical harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita.

The complementary timbres – the big, rounded tones of European pedal harp and bright chatter and whirr of west African harp-lute – shifted between urgent cascades, tidal pulses and mesmerising riff-spinning. Their opener, the stately voyaging of Clarach, was inspired by the migration of ospreys from Wales to West Africa (overflying the frightened, upturned faces of migrants in crowded boats, heading the other way) and introduced Keita’s mellifluous Mandinka singing.

In a further entwining of worlds, Bach to Baïsso swirled the familiar aria of the Goldberg Variations into another realm altogether, while an elegy for a drowned Welsh village had Finch intoning in reproachful Welsh over murmuring strings: “Remember Tryweryn”.

The luscious pulses and lively percussive dialogue of 1677 seemed almost inappropriately joyful for its subject, an infamous slaving station, while the encore strains of Keita’s Bamba cast their benignly hyonotic spell right to the end.

Two brief but engaging opening sets also skipped across cultures and genres. The spirited flute, Hardanger fiddle and accordion of the Snowflake Trio morphed a familiar Irish slip jig into a spry Norwegian dance, while solo harpist Rachel Newton drew on Gaelic song and fairy folklore, but finished with her own heartfelt metamorphosis of Dolly Parton’s Jolene. – JIM GILCHRIST

Source: Celtic Connections review: Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, The Mackintosh Church, Glasgow – The Scotsman


Celtic Connections fears for future of Scottish music being ‘shut out’ of Europe after Brexit

MUSICIANS could be ‘shut out’ of European culture in the wake of Brexit, the leader of one of Scotland’s biggest festivals fears.

Donald Shaw, the musician and creative producer of CelticConnections, the roots, folk and traditional music festival which opens in venues across Glasgow today, said he fears that Scottish musicians will find it much harder to play in Europe after the UK severs the cord with the EU. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Burns Night with Jamie MacDougall – BBC Radio Scotland

Jamie McDougall presents Burns Night with the Rachel Newton Trio and Talisk Trio.

Spend Burn’s Night with Jamie MacDougall in the company of two award-winning groups, live from the CCA Glasgow. BBC Radio 2 Musician of the Year singer and harpist Rachel Newton performs with her trio that includes Lauren MacColl on fiddle and Mattie Foulds on percussion. The night culminates in a dynamic set of tunes from Talisk Trio with concertina player Mohsen Amini – Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2016, fiddle player Hayley Keenan and guitarist Graeme Armstrong. A Burn’s Night without poetry from the Bard himself would be a sair fecht, so readings and musings on the night come from BBC Scotland’s poet in residence Stuart Paterson.

Listen at: Burns Night with Jamie MacDougall – BBC Radio Scotland

Bright Phoebus Revisited review – Watersons bring a cult classic back to life

A stirring celebration of Mike and Lal Waterson’s great lost folk album gathered daughters, sons, cousins and uncles – plus an Arcade Fire star

evamping a cult masterpiece is a dangerous business, and Bright Phoebus – the 1972 album by siblings Mike and Lal Waterson – really is a masterpiece. Imagine the most severe voices in folk music pitched against lush, boozy, crushingly tender instrumentals. The songs have a gnarled lyricism, a concise and dreamy poetry. If you’ve never heard them, that’s probably because half of the original vinyl copies were pressed with the hole in the wrong place and it took until last summer for Bright Phoebus to be remastered and rereleased – largely thanks to the efforts of Lal’s daughter [ . . . ] More at: Bright Phoebus Revisited review – Watersons bring a cult classic back to life