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North musicians line up for 2022's Celtic Connections in Glasgow fully live after last year's lockdown version


By Margaret Chrystall

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Celtic Connections has announced the music that is set to light up the end of January and early February in Glasgow.

And many North musicians are included for the events planned for this year’s celebration of roots music over 18 days in the 29th event.

From Thursday, January 20 to Sunday, February 6, musicians and audiences will come together for a live experience at the start of 2022.

Once again, music that spans traditional folk, roots, Americana, jazz, soul and world music, will be played by over 1,000 musicians.

Three musicians who will play Celtic Connections opening night concert 'Neath The Gloamin' Star – Innes White (left), from Dingwall, with Hannah Rarity and Paul McKenna at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall to launch the programme.
Three musicians who will play Celtic Connections opening night concert 'Neath The Gloamin' Star – Innes White (left), from Dingwall, with Hannah Rarity and Paul McKenna at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall to launch the programme.

The events will include performances, landmark musical collaborations, talks, workshops, film screenings, theatre productions, ceilidhs, exhibitions, free events and late-night sessions. Last year, the event went online, still managing to reach 30,000 people in 60 countries.

The Barrowland Ballroom will play host to a 10th birthday celebration as folk five-piece Elephant Sessions mark a decade of making trad tunes.

Elephant Sessions at the Ironworks last year for the Celtic Connections web stream.
Elephant Sessions at the Ironworks last year for the Celtic Connections web stream.

Celebrated composer Jim Sutherland will present When Fish Begin To Crawl – an impressionistic piece on the climate crisis, examined through the lens of his home in Caithness and Sutherland and Europe’s largest blanket peat bog.

Musician Duncan Chisholm will be a special guest of RURA. Picture: Gary Anthony
Musician Duncan Chisholm will be a special guest of RURA. Picture: Gary Anthony

Highland fiddle-player and composer Duncan Chisholm and Gaelic singer and musician Julie Fowlis will be two of the special guests joining one of Scotland’s finest trad-fusion bands RURA, who will perform at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall on the last weekend of the festival alongside other special guests, Hannah Rarity, Michael McGoldrick and Ross Ainslie.

Echoing the fact Glasgow will have hosted the global UN climate change conference, exciting news comes that Spell Songs will be at the festival this year. The collaboration of music, poetry, art and magic, sees eight visionary musicians sing nature back to life, among them our own Julie Fowlis.

Julie Fowlis will appear in Spell Songs and as a special guest with RURA. Picture: Robert Perry
Julie Fowlis will appear in Spell Songs and as a special guest with RURA. Picture: Robert Perry

The musical companion piece to the acclaimed words of authors Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, Spell Songs is a protest at the loss of the natural world around us. Together, Julie with Karine Polwart, Seckou Keita, Kris Drever, Kerry Andrew, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter and Jim Molyneux celebrate the natural world at The Royal Concert Hall on Thursday , January 27.

New commissions from musicians at the forefront of the roots, folk, jazz and orchestral scene in Scotland are set to make for exhilarating, multi-faceted performances. Artists include Fergus McCreadie, Jenn Butterworth and Inverness-born Matt Carmichael. And joining them from the North, wll be RANT & The Ledger, Kim Carnie, Westward The Light, Hamish Napier & Adam Sutherland, Mairearad Green, Mike Vass and Charlie Grey & Joseph Peach.

RANT will perform with The Ledger in a nod to the 25th anniversary of the Celtic Colours festival.
RANT will perform with The Ledger in a nod to the 25th anniversary of the Celtic Colours festival.

Youth talent will be at the forefront with musicians from Fèis Rois being joined by Avanc – Wales’ first National Youth Folk Ensemble.

All three of Scotland’s national orchestras will feature and an exctiing one for fans of Skye’s electronic Celtic fusion band Niteworks will see perhaps one of the most intriguing sounding fusions of the whole event when they are joined by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, on Friday, January 21 and guests Kathleen MacInnes and Gaelic vocal trio Sian will join the line-up in a night of commissioned orchestrations.

Niteworks when they played the Ironworks at Blas. Picture: Gary Anthony
Niteworks when they played the Ironworks at Blas. Picture: Gary Anthony

On Sunday, January 29, Capercaillie will be joined by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, led by Greg Lawson in a world premiere of orchestrations of the band’s back catalogue.

Marking10 years of Roaming Roots Revue – Celtic Connections’ unique Atlantic-spanning gathering of contemporary artists, Roddy Hart will present special guests including Carrbridge musician Rachel Sermanni on the line-up for the Sunday, January 23 event.

Some other special guests from over the last decade include Justin Currie of Del Amitri who play the Ironworks on Wednesday – Jessica Hoop and This is the Kit.

Capercaillie – here at HebCelt – will play with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on January 29.
Capercaillie – here at HebCelt – will play with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on January 29.

This year’s opening concert, 'Neath the Gloamin' Star, will feature talent from a younger generation of musicians and songwriters.

Named after a beloved old Scots folk song, the title sets the scene as a celebration of a precious heritage that is now being taken forward into a new tradition.

Among the names on the stellar line-up of formidable young singers are included Northern and Highland artist Innes White with Hannah Rarity, Jenny Sturgeon, Paul McKenna, Steve Byrne, The Jeremiahs, Fiona Hunter and Amythyst Kiah, with a unique house band including the Alligin String Octet of Katrina Lee, Kana Kawashima, Seonaid Aitken, Kristan Harvey, Patsy Reid, Rhoslyn Lawton, Alice Allen and Julia Wagner.

Nae Plans return – Hamish Napier and Adam Sutherland.
Nae Plans return – Hamish Napier and Adam Sutherland.

“Celtic Connections 2022’s opening concert is a statement of the festival’s commitment to present and hold up emerging acts, recognising what is being done by young musicians in Scotland and internationally to carry the torch for Scots folk song into the future”, says Celtic Connections creative producer, Donald Shaw. “There’s no doubt that this year’s festival has an added significance to it, and in the context of the last couple of years, we’re eager to capture the collective human experience that is at the heart of what’s been missing for people – the sharing of experiences, songs, music and stories.

“What allows Celtic Connections as a festival to develop and stand out is the idea that as musicians and audiences, we can all share music, learn from one another and grow – and there is much to be learnt from the next generation.”

Indie fans should enjoy the stripped back show by The Twilight Sad at the Old Fruitmarket on Friday, January 21, while the same venue will host revered Danish trio Efterklang on Thursday, January 17.

Other international performers will come from Sweden, the US, Mali and Morocco.

Ukrainian folk quartet DakhaBrakha, Mali musical royalty Amadou & Mariam, West Virginia’s Sierra Ferrell and Denmark’s Nordic folk outfit Stundom will all bring their unique sounds to Glasgow this winter. So too will Sweden’s Lena Jonsson, North African blues band Bab L’Bluz, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram from Mississippi and Alabama’s St. Paul and The Broken Bones.

Young Tennessean singer-songwriter Amythyst Kiah will also bring her unique sound on Friday, January 21 to the Mitchell Theatre.

Elsewhere, North American roots artists Allison Russell and Leyla McCalla, who along with Amythyst and Rhiannon Giddens, made up the collaborative project Our Native Daughters, will also present solo shows.

Transatlantic Sessions will feature iconic Irish folk legend Paul Brady, along with Dirk Powell from Louisiana, Scots singer Siobhan Miller and US singer Leyla McCalla.

On Tuesday 25th January, at the Royal Concert Hall, Karen Matheson will be one of the pecial guests for Scotland Sings Nanci Griffith – a special night paying tribute to the late great country star. Other special guests will include Emily Smith, James Grant, Jill Jackson, Dean Owens and many more.

Elsewhere, Scottish folk favourites on the Celtic Connections bill include Highland folk duo Nae Plans (Hamish Napier and Adam Sutherland) plus Orkney’s top bands Gnoss and FARA, trad-pop group Mec Lir, exciting trio Talisk and who will host an extravaganza of duos in the City Halls on Saturday, February 5.

The Ledger with Gillian Frame, Grantown's Findlay Napier and Nairn-raised Mike Vass.
The Ledger with Gillian Frame, Grantown's Findlay Napier and Nairn-raised Mike Vass.

Fiddle virtuosos RANT will be joined by The Ledger (Gillian Frame and Findlay Napier with Mike Vass) in a special collaboration and in a nod to the 25th anniversary of the Celtic Colours festival, renowned Cape Breton band Beòlach return to the festival for a one-off show with the mighty Breabach.

Celebrated Scots-trad outfit Mànran will play the Tramway, Dallahan will take to the Mackintosh Church stage. The Chair will bring Orkney stomp to The Old Fruitmarket and the Concert Hall’s New Auditorium will play host to a fantastic night of piping titled The Conundrum: International Piping Night.

The Danny Kyle Open Stage returns, and a show entitled The New Tradition: Rejuvenation in the Concert Halls’ Strathclyde Suite on Saturday, January 22 will see recent graduates from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Traditional music courses shine.

And among other likely highlights this year will be Tradovation – a series of concerts from promising home-grown acts that seek to find innovation, inspiration and exploration in traditional music.

On Sunday afternoons, the festival’s New Voices strand will champion new work by exciting youngsters Jack Badcock, Esther Swift and Ross Couper.

The BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Final will be broadcast live from Glasgow City Halls on Sunday, February 6 as the most exciting up-and-coming Scottish traditional musical talent compete for the coveted title.

Many musicians have acted out milestone moments in their careers at Celtic Connections and the festival is set to mark a number of musical anniversaries in style in 2022.

Among them is celebrated English folk singer-songwriter Kate Rusby, who celebrates 30 years as a touring artist at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall on Tuesday, 1 February. Expect achingly beautiful vocals at this heartfelt show. Also celebrating 30 years on the road are Scottish traditional music stalwarts, Old Blind Dogs, who will play a joyous return gig for fans at St Luke’s on Friday, February 4 in a special collaboration with Breton band Startijenn.

It’s a 20-year anniversary for Quebecois folk quintet Le Vent du Nord who, along with special guests, will bring The Old Fruitmarket to life on Friday, January 28 with their raucously unpredictable blend of guitar, fiddle, hurdy gurdy and lusty French vocals. The show, which features a dynamically modern sound, rooted in Celtic music from both Ireland and Brittany, encapsulates the festival’s cross-cultural spirit.

Wales showcased as international partners at this year’s festival, celebrating the eclectic and exciting state of the Welsh folk scene today.

Each year since 2000, Celtic Connections has partnered with a different country to create new international links and advance opportunities for their musicians.

In a nod to the UN’s upcoming decade of the indigenous languages, an abundance of emerging Welsh talent will perform, including Cynefin, Eve Goodman, Pedair, Trials of Cato, No Good Boyo and N’famady Kouyaté.

BEMIS Scotland

The winter festival’s tie-up with BEMIS Scotland will return for 2022 with the Celtic Connections in the Community programme. Taking the festival out to Glasgow's culturally diverse communities, this partnership involves a series of local events and a finale performance at Tramway.

The programme provides a valuable opportunity to showcase incredibly rich talent within the city’s many multicultural communities, spanning Roma, Irish, African and Afghan traditions.

Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland said: “It’s a delight to see Glasgow throwing open the doors to its music venues again, as Celtic Connections gets ready to rejuvenate the city with live, in-person performances.

“Last January’s festival was a cultural lifeline that engaged audiences all over the world, reminding us that music has an uncanny power to draw us together, even in the darkest days of lockdown.

“The 2022 event will be an emotional return, ranging from intimate solo shows to large-scale orchestral extravaganzas, underlining the undisputable fact that Celtic Connections truly has something for everyone.”

Celtic Connections will have enhanced hygiene measures in place at its venues and operate in line with Government guidelines. An online element to this year’s festival is currently being explored and more shows are set to be announced.

The first shows to be unveiled as part of Celtic Connections 2022 are available to view now and tickets are on sale now at www.celticconnections.com

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