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It is less than one week to go until Celtic Connections 2015 and the festival is delighted to announce that the Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan will be joining the line up for Blood & Roses: The Songs of Ewan MacColl in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Sunday 25th January.

The evening’s entertainment is a tribute to one of the most pivotal figures in Britain’s folk revival, Ewan MacColl, whose vast legacy of musical classics will be celebrated to mark his centenary year.

Joining Paul on the bill is Norma Waterson of The Watersons and Waterson:Carthy fame alongside her husband Martin Carthy and daughter Eliza Carthy. The festival also announced in December that Pulp’s former frontman Jarvis Cocker will be joining this star-studded line-up.

Four of MacColl’s grandsons, who are musicians themselves, have also joined the line up – Jamie MacColl (Bombay Bicycle Club), Harry Mead (Klangkarussell), Alex MacColl and Tom MacColl.

The concert has been curated by Ewan MacColl’s sons Calum and Neill – both successful musicians themselves – and features a handpicked house band from a diverse range of genres including Kate St. John, Dick Gaughan and Karine Polwart who will perform both well-loved and lesser known songs from MacColl’s repertoire.

Opening Night

Celtic Connections 2015 will open with the live world premiere of Martyn Bennett’s final masterpiece Grit, originally released in 2003, and widely recognised as a towering landmark in contemporary Scottish music. The 2015 festival also coincides with 10th anniversary of Bennett’s passing, and tonight’s performance will be of an almost entirely studio-created album that has been reconstructed by violinist and composer Greg Lawson for a custom designed orchestra of folk, jazz and classical musicians.

An array of fantastic guest singers will be accompanied by well known folk musicians including James Mackintosh, Ross Ainslie, Ali Hutton, Catriona McKay, David McGuinness, Calum MacCrimmon and Fraser Fifield.

Highlights of the Celtic Connections Opening Concert ‘Nae Regrets’ – Martyn Bennett’s Grit will be aired on BBC Two Scotland at 9.30pm on Thursday 22nd January.

Prize-winners at the Festival

Scottish folk-rock troubadour Withered Hand has been awarded the Sunday Herald’s No 1 Scottish Album of 2014 with his album ‘Not-So-Young Father. Withered Hand is supporting brazilian MC, singer and songwriter Criolo, a key figure in São Paulo’s hip-hop underground scene. * They will be performing in the O2 ABC on Wednesday 21st January.

Julie Fowlis was awarded the Folk Band of the Year at this year’s MG Alba Scottish Traditional Music Awards along with her band – Eamon Doorley, Duncan Chisholm and Tony Byrne. The Julie Fowlis Band will be performing in An Evening with Mairi Smith in the beautiful Mackintosh Church on Friday 16th January. Lewis-born Smith will be exploring and celebrating the close Gaelic kinship between Scotland and Ireland, in company with sisters Tríona and Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill, whose illustriuous CV takes in work with Skara Brae, The Bothy Band, Relativity and Coolfin. Also featured is former Dàimh vocalist Calum Alex MacMillan.

Not to be Missed

With less than a week to go until the festival gets underway there are a number of shows that are not to be missed with tickets selling fast.

The Campbell Brothers will perform John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the seminal album release, Coltrane’s most spiritual composition. The Campbell Brothers’ sacred steel gospel version of ‘A Love Supreme’ was commissioned by Lincoln Centre Out of Doors and Duke Performances at Duke University and premiered at the Lincoln Centre in New York in August last year where it was met by shouts of joy and a wild standing ovation. The Campbell Brothers will be supporting The McCrary Sisters in the Old Fruitmarket on Wednesday 28th January.

Jeff Tweedy, founder of top alt-country/rock acts Wilco and Uncle Tupelo, and Billy Bragg’s collaborator on the Mermaid Avenue series of Woody Guthrie material, will be performing in the second week of the festival under the single name Tweedy alongside his 18-year-old son and drummer Spencer. Tweedy will be performing in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Thursday 29th January.

The great Beninois diva Angélique Kidjo will perform with the backing of a full symphony orchestra in the form of Glasgow’s very own Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Kidjo has enjoyed a trailblazing career dating back to the 1980s, during which she cross-fertilised her native traditions with a scintillating array of international styles and genres, bring her a Grammy award among a myriad of other accolades. Originally performed with the Orchestra Philharmonique du Luxembourgh, this current project features favourite songs spanning back to her breakthrough hit ‘Malaika’, setting Kidjo’s spectacular voice amid skilfully crafted arrangements by composer and conductor Gast Waltzing. Angélique is performing in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Saturday 17th January.

Inspired by the recent book Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia written by Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr, this Atlantic spanning concert will feature students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Boston’s Berklee Colllege, in a collaborative exploration of their musical history and evolving traditions. Around 40 RCS students, led by Phil Cunningham and Jenn Butterworth, will be joined by Berklee-founded band Twisted Pine, now making their name on Boston’s vibrant bluegrass scene, together with special guests including fiddlers Hanneke Cassel and Jenna Moynihan, and Canadian siblings Qristina and Quinn Bachand. RCS Presents Wayfaring Strangers is in City Halls on Sunday 18th January.

A World of Music

Once again in 2015 there is a strong world music strand weaving through the festival with concerts celebrating and exploring the music of other countries from across the globe.

Leading Indian violinists Ganesh and Kumaresh Rajagopalan and percussionist Anantha R Krishnan will join Scotland’s Trio AAB – twin brothers Tom and Phil Bancroft, on drums and saxophone, and guitarist Kevin Mackenzie to perform an exciting and adventurous cross-cultural exchange in the beautiful surroundings of the Mackintosh Church on Saturday 17th January.

The internationally acclaimed seven-piece ensemble Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino will perform their amazing blend of music, song and dance. Their performances evoke the cultural traditions of Salento, in the heal of Italy’s boot, and primarily centres on the ancient and mysterious traditions of pizzica tarantata. Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino is performing in the O2 ABC on Friday 23rd January.

Timbuktu indie kids and stars of the African Express Album Songhoy Blues represent the next generation of Malian talent. The young Malians started a band to boost the morale of their fellow refugees and their gritty, bluesy sound is born out of defiance after the conflict that has scarred Mali in recent years. Songhoy Blues are in Oran Mor on Sunday 25th January.

Also performing is Nigerian drummer, composer and songwriter and the godfather of Afrobeat music, Tony Allen, whose recent projects include collaborations with Damon Albarn, the Verve’s Simon Tong and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Flea, while his own newly released Film of Life splices his signature style of Afrobeat with soul, dub and jazz. Tony Allen is performing in the O2 ABC on Saturday 31st January.

With a fan base ranging from world music audiences to electronic and avant-rock devotees, the extraordinary Congolese band Konono No.1 channel traditional sounds through equipment from salvaged car parts and other junkyard finds, creating a visceral, distortion-laden sound that’s both primeval and futuristic. Konono No.1 is performing in the O2 ABC on Thursday 29th January.

* Criolo with Withered Hand is delivered in partnership with British Council Transform and Creative

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Permalink - Posted: January 9, 2015 at 1:15 pm