Blog

GRIT spreads its wings

Nae Regrets, the award-winning reimagining of GRIT, the final album by Martyn Bennett, was a Celtic Connections commission premiered on its 2015 opening night to a rapturous response. Now, the highly acclaimed production by Bennett's close friend and musical collaborator Greg Lawson,...

Whistle Stop Tour 2016

We take a whistle-stop tour through some of the best bits from Celtic Connections 2016 including Robert Plant, James Grant, The Milk Carton Kids, Admiral Fallow and Soumik Datta & Bernard Schimplesberger. The legendary Jimmie Macgregor describes the festival as “A gigantic well organised...

Is it over? Did we make it?

​In reply to Lori Watson’s earlier Facebook enquiry – “Is it over? Did we make it? Is everyone OK?”, the answers are as follows: a) Yes (apart from one last sneaky Bert Inspired show tonight – last choir stalls tickets now released) b) We think so…but maybe ask us tomorrow? and c) Probably as...

One last blast

​Folk and roots music isn’t usually the natural habitat of high net worth individuals (and certainly isn’t often a way to become one), but last night’s audience at Òran Mór, if they made it for the support act, found themselves in the presence of personal wealth estimated at some $1.5 billion, that...

What day is it...anyone?

​Well, the final festival Friday certainly looks to have gone with a bang, as last night’s round dozen main shows scored an impressive sweep of sellouts, and a torrent of rapturously appreciative online responses. “Don’t think I’ve ever seen @jamthrawn be so good!!” exclaimed a happy James Grant...

Non, je ne regrette rien

​Celtic Connections’ first foray into the realm of full-length stage musicals, with Piaf! The Show at the Theatre Royal, has proved a resounding success, with all-but full houses and standing ovations each night, further enhancing this year’s Showcase Scotland partnership with France. The...

A terrible racket

​The Holiday Inn's front desk received an irate phone call the other day from a – presumably non-Celtic – guest, protesting that someone was making "a terrible racket" in the room next door: could they please be told to desist. The receptionist enquired as to which was the offending...

Some cautionary tales

​Following on from Monday’s tale of our Orkney friend falling asleep on a late-night bus, after some Celtic shenanigans, and finding himself lost in East Kilbride, we’ve heard a couple more such stories which merit re-telling – if only for cautionary purposes. One involved the late Gordon Duncan -...

After-hours roistering

​It may have only been Monday, but there were signs even yesterday of things building up for the big final weekend, with the advance party from the Transatlantic Sessions, including co-musical director Jerry Douglas and double bass genius Danny Thompson, arriving to settle in ahead of...

Too much happening

​What with a grand total of 44 main concerts taking place over the past weekend – and that’s not even including the Open Stage, the Festival Club, Late Night Sessions or BBC live broadcasts – it’s small wonder that the following heartfelt cry went up on Twitter yesterday, from one happily...

Several states of disarray

​One advantage of Celtic Connections over more outdoor-based summer festivals is that you don’t have to get literally down and dirty to enjoy the music, with none of that camping, sitting on the ground or mud malarkey involved. Ten days into Celtic, though, you wouldn’t know it from the state of...

A dream opportunity

​Yesterday afternoon, in one of Berkeley Studios’ rehearsal rooms, Bwani Junction and their very special guests were limbering up for for tonight’s hotly-anticipated Graceland show, celebrating 30 years since Paul Simon’s seminal album, when the door opened, and in walked Kris Kristofferson. While...

An intriguing cross-cultural encounter

​Celtic Connections brought about yet another intriguing cross-cultural encounter last night, when our own Festival Club took place upstairs at the Art School, while those premises’ regular Thursday club night, PVC (whose strapline is “Be fun. Be flirty. Be fluid.”), occupied the other bar. Mind...

Galloping towards the weekend

​As often happens at Celtic Connections, the weekend seems to have started on Wednesday again, after a mere 48 hours’ concession to the notion of weekdays. An impressive slate of nine main festival concerts saw yet more glowing reports coming in from performances as diverse as Armagh Pipers Club’s...

A very special time of year

​As many an artist does at Celtic Connections, the wonderful Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes last night expressed her thankfulness for the festival’s existence. “Especially when you live in Glasgow, it’s a very special time of year,” she said, at her gig with the crack instrumental trio of Brian...

We come here to share the music we love

​Leading the tributes to the one and only Rickie Lee Jones’s performance last night, no less an authority than 2015’s Scottish Album of the Year winner, Kathryn Joseph, called her an “amazing and beautiful woman of greatness”, adding also – in reference to Jones’s impromptu scavenging of her...

First weekend done and dusted

​And so that’s the first weekend done and dusted, with today perhaps being a day for the licking of wounds - be they to the bank balance or those actual mysterious bruises commonly known as “unidentified drinking injuries” – unless you’re heading along to the one and only Rickie Lee Jones, or Mr...

A rapturous Saturday night

​By consensus among the reports coming in, it’s sounding like a pretty rapturous Saturday night was had all round at Celtic Connections, though you’d be hard put to determine which audience was transported to the highest state of bliss. Those who flocked to the Concert Hall for Pilgrimer, James...

Spoilt for choice

​Even among last night’s spoilt-for-choice line-up of 12 different concerts – nearly half of them sold out – the indisputable main event was Ireland 1916, which saw the Concert Hall packed to the rafters, commemorating the Easter Rising in company with Irish traditional legends The Chieftains, and...

The Carrying Stream

​Performers and audience alike were in suitably vocal form late last night, firstly raving about the gloriously diverse panoply of song presented by The Carrying Stream, which triumphed equally as a many-splendoured opening to Celtic Connections 2016, and as the inaugural celebration of the TMSA’s...

Off and running

​And we’re back!!! Welcome one and all to Celtic Connections 2016, which looms larger and brighter than ever (if you can loom brightly?) within the worldwide cultural calendar, a true jewel in Glasgow’s UNESCO City of Music crown. And, of course, a totally unbeatable way to commence the year. The...

One final celebration

​And so…The End. Finito. All done and dusted for another year – but not before a memorable last night’s hurrah for those of us still standing. These final celebrations came as Celtic Connections published yet another stonking set of figures for this year’s festival​ gross ticket sales topping...

The final day dawns

​By the time we reach the final day, it always feels as though Celtic Connections has both whizzed by in a flash, and been going on for months, while usually straightforward concepts like ‘day’, ‘night’ and ‘morning’ have become strangely elastic and frequently inverted. One poor soul who’s...

A blazin' final Friday

​Putting Blazin’ Fiddles in charge of the Concert Hall’s main space on Celtic Connections’ final Friday night always promised to result in a somewhat monumental hooley, and the occasion certainly didn’t disappoint. In some ways, the band’s ‘Strings Attached – The Next Generation’ show winningly...

A lively start to the day!

​There was a very special treat in store for the primary-aged audience at today’s final Education Concert of Celtic Connections 2015. After impressively lively sets (for that time of the morning) first of all by drumming group Rhythm Wave, and then the ever-wonderful Blazin’ Fiddles – warming up...

Festival firsts

​By the end of last night’s sublime world-première performance by the new US super-trio of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan, pretty much the entire sellout crowd had been emotionally reduced to a great big puddle on the floor – with one longtime Celtic Connections staffer declaring it...

Multi-award-winning and multi-tasking

​Those Celtic connections stretched all the way to Hollywood last night, via the multi-award-winning oeuvre and in-person presence of celebrated Glasgow composer Craig Armstrong. The Orchestra of Scottish Opera were joined by some very excited Scottish folk musicians, including Angus Lyon, Seonaid...

Van The Man

​Following yesterday’s polar opposite of Manic Monday, the Celtic Connections juggernaut was back to full momentum by the time of last night’s long sold-out performance by the Man himself, Van Morrison, which by all accounts fulfilled fans’ expectations and then some, with one blown-away patron...

A musical marathon

​A distinct pall of quiet lay across much of Glasgow’s musical community today – or what remained of today, once last night’s hurly-burly was eventually done – after another marathon Showcase Scotland weekend, as 200 international music-biz movers and shakers, glutted on a five-day feast of the...

Wow what a night

​Wow – that was some night. Fourteen main gigs, many if not most of them sold out, and a tide of audience appreciation flooding in from across the city; from shows as diverse as modern-day rockabilly ace J.D. McPherson and Scottish folk legend Jimmie Macgregor; gypsy kings Taraf de Haïdouks and...

In full swing

​And so we are now officially into the second half of Celtic Connections 2015, this being day ten of the eighteen, and the phrase “full swing” pretty much sums up where things are at, as the mighty middle Saturday night gets under way. With tomorrow’s stars from the Scotland-wide Fèis movement...

Another standing ovation

​This year’s count of Celtic standing ovations continues to climb, with another one in the Concert Hall last night for the sold-out screening and live soundtrack performance of From Scotland With Love, Virginia Heath’s powerfully moving documentary collage of Scottish Screen Archive film, with...

Happy faces

​There was no shortage of happy faces at the Flying Duck last night, as the mighty Mystery Juice delivered a monstrously epic set for the Folkytown crowd – even if a few visiting Showcase Scotland delegates seemed a little perplexed by the band’s thunderously filthy mash-up of funk, blues, rap and...

The Highlanders’ urban home from home

​Glasgow has of course long been known as the Highlanders’ urban home from home, and thus it proved again at the Flying Duck last night, as Celtic Connections’ regular fringe event, Folkytown, drew a large and buzzing crowd for its opening night of 2015, hosting a suitably fiery Highland-themed...

Fidget Feet fly out

​A fond farewell to our new Celtic friends from Ireland’s Fidget Feet Aerial Dance company and Hawk’s Well Theatre, whose four-night run with the spectacular The Second Coming came to an end at the Tramway last night, having won a chorus of fervent praise from audiences. Incorporating both...

Goosebumps on goosebumps

​Rave reports have been flooding in once again for last night’s third Roaming Roots Revue, which brought together the likes of Grant Lee Phillips, Rachel Sermanni, Howe Gelb, Ruth Moody, The Pierces and of course house band Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fire, around the ever-so-slightly-conducive...

Busy schedules

​Participating musicians at Celtic Connections may have loads of fun, but they are worked hard for it, as evinced by the sight of fiddler Patsy Reid hotfooting it from the West End to the Fruitmarket around 9pm last night, after her gorgeous opening set at the Mackintosh Church, to form part of the...

The festival club is open!

​Approaching from along Renfrew Street, around 1am last night, the happy racket of the Festival Club in full swing could be heard; and very lovely it was to be back in the Art School, after the last three years’ wanderings around sundry less-than-ideal nitespots. There’s an excellent room upstairs...

You play the melody on the chanter

​Wow. Just. . .WOW. Nobody envied the reviewers last night, tasked with encapsulating an experience that left most participants speechless – after it had had them alternately open-mouthed and on their feet; in roof-raising raptures and floods of tears – within just a few column inches. Facebook...

Welcome to Celtic Connections 2015

​Well, here we are again – can’t believe it’s been another year, etc, etc, but there are now NO MORE SLEEPS until Celtic Connections 2015!! (And, for many of us, not nearly enough sleep until February...)Going by their name, festival favourites Le Vent du Nord were the ideal choice to brave this...

Recovery time!

​Well, what can we say? Really not very much, right at this moment, after a suitably monumental/momentous/magnificent/mental/messy final final fling at Walkabout, the Holiday Inn and then A.N. Other hotel bar which somehow stayed open until the very last dregs of Celtic Connections 2014 were...

One final fling...

​And the winner is. . . Robyn Stapleton!! The Scots singer from Stranraer has just been named as Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2014, triumphing in a contest where, as chair of judges David Francis put it, there was less than a cigarette paper’s breadth of discrepancy between...

Congratulations are in order!

​​Hearty congratulations to this year’s Danny Kyle Open Stage winners, who triumphed amid perhaps a stronger and more international field than ever, with contenders flying in from far and wide for their coveted 15 minutes of potential fame, underlining the event’s stature and influence as a career...

Farewell Rahman, hello final weekend

​In addition to the rapturous crowd packed into the Concert Hall last night, Celtic Connections’ landmark performance of Slumdog Millionaire composer A.R. Rahman’s music, featuring the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, also brought the festival to a new and far wider audience, thanks to its being...

There's a Black Moon On the Rise

​Indian/international superstar composer A.R. Rahman, who arrived in town yesterday – from LA via London – for his concert with the BBC SSO tonight, is obviously enjoying a warm Glasgow welcome, having posted earlier on his Facebook page (which has well over 16 million followers): “First day’s...

A warm up for the weekend

  There have been a few records broken already during Celtic Connections 2014, but another one fell last night as Mogwai, making their festival debut in magnificent style, attained unprecedented decibel levels in the Concert Hall, delighting a record-equalling, crammed-to-absolute-capacity...

Festival legends

  So RIP Pete Seeger: a great life, fully lived, and a legacy at once musical, political and humanitarian that will long continue to resonate around the world – not least at Celtic Connections, where it’s safe to assume there’ll be a good few songs dedicated and glasses raised to his...

Stupendous and unforgettable

​ As Calum MacCrimmon so eloquently put it on Facebook earlier today, “Holy goodness gracious thank fudge for Mondays.” Or perhaps you’ll empathise even more with Ross Couper’s somewhat pithier summation: “My everything hurts.” Needless to say, they have no-one but themselves to blame, having...

Losing it

​After completing a magnificent double at the SSE Hydro with last night’s highlight-packed International Burns Concert, our esteemed Artistic Director had something of a rude awakening today, with a 10am phone call requiring his presence to deal with some kind of emergency at one of the venues....

We'll raise a cup of porridge yet

If ever there was an instance of going above and beyond the call of duty, it occurred at nearly 6 o’clock this morning, as the very last stragglers were being coaxed towards the door of the Holiday Inn. A certain young Glasgow-based fiddler and singer suddenly declared herself faint from hunger...

Top score for Glasgow binmen

Another couple of additions to festival line-ups, most imminently that of the wonderful Cape Breton fiddler Colin Grant and his island compatriot, guitarist and composer Scott MacMillan, as opening act to the Campbells of Greepe show at the CCA tomorrow night. The pair are primarily in town for...

Non-musical implements

​ The involvement of what are normally considered non-musical implements in Celtic Connections events is getting to be a bit of a theme this year, what with previous tales of chainsaws and spoons, and now Late Night Sessions host Findlay Napier has put out a call for anyone willing to lend him a...

Showcase Scotland begins!

​As ever, we’re delighted to welcome today’s full influx of delegates for the annual Showcase Scotland event at Celtic Connections – and especially chuffed that this year’s event features not the customary one but two international partners, namely India and Australia, from where a dozen...

No rest for the wicked

If ever you wondered why the phrase ‘no rest for the wicked’ was invented…There was Phil Cunningham late yesterday afternoon, walking past the Concert Hall stage door, sights firmly fixed on a leisurely dinner in front of EastEnders (Phil’s a massive ’Enders fan, seemingly) before an early night,...

Late night high jinks

Celtic Connections’ favourite fringe event, Folkytown, is back tomorrow night at the Flying Duck, and if last night’s shenanigans there under the Sunday Funday banner are anything to go by, it certainly won’t be for the fainthearted. Nobody seems entirely sure how or why every male musician in the...

Trouble with a tap

​Even though it’s in the basement, the Venue at Òran Mór is generally too salubrious a joint to be called the bowels of the building, but there was a definite touch of that – with an added frisson of death-trap – when Ross Ainslie was sound-checking yesterday before supporting The Olllam last...

A chainsaw makes its Celtic connection

​Celtic Connections sound engineers aren’t easily fazed. They’ve mostly seen it all and found a channel for it somewhere, from the weirdest and wackiest of instruments to ludicrously large line-ups, or both of the above simultaneously. A​nyone remember the orchestral-scale La Banda Europa,...

Classical Connections

It’s a far cry indeed from those not-so-very long-ago days when traditional musicians were, as a rule, looked down on by their classical counterparts, reflecting a perceived hierarchy of artistic status which all too many in the folk world implicitly accepted and internalised, even as they sniped...

It all starts here!

Tonight mounting collective anticipation (with every second email being signed off 'See you in Glasgow!', and online squeals of excitement from eager musicians and fans proliferating daily on Facebook), gives way tonight to the happy, hug-filled hubbub (a bit like some gigantic, delightedly...

Are You Ready? One Week to Go

Here at Celtic Connections we're crossing the t's and dotting the i's in preparation for another scintillating, toe-tapping, amazing festival. Don't worry if the post-Christmas blues haven't quite shifted yet - it's just seven days until Celtic Connections 2014 warms the winter.Firstly, an update...

Ready to launch!

​​After many months in the planning, we can now unveil the line-up for Celtic Connections 2014! ​We not only celebrate the vast riches of Scotland’s music scene, but also we bring outstanding artists from around the world and welcome them to our city.​ In this, the 21st year, we bring together...