In 2009, Celtic Connections launched Homecoming Scotland – a year-long programme of events to celebrate Scotland and its contributions to the world – and the theme of homecoming was a prominent one in the festival’s programme.
Celtic Connections 2009 featured events which traced musical traditions back to their roots. Béla Fleck celebrated the evolution of the banjo in Throw Down Your Heart, whilst a host of top Celtic and Americana talent assembled to perform the traditional songs and tunes which crossed the Atlantic with Celtic immigrants to form the bedrock of American roots music in Transatlantic Sessions – Bringing it All Back Home.
We also threw the ultimate 250th birthday party for Robert Burns, with a weekend of celebrations which included a Jamaican Burns Night headlined by reggae legends Sly and Robbie (who flew in from Kingston especially for this special one-off gig), a 12-hour Burns song marathon and a giant ceilidh in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall led by an all-star band.
Our most international programme to date brought artists to Scotland from across the globe. Musicians from as far afield as Africa, India, Russia, Jamaica, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Norway, France and the USA all descended upon Glasgow to perform alongside the cream of home-grown talent.
Sly and Robbie
Branford Marsalis and the RSNO
Sharon Shannon Big Band
The Treacherous Orchestra
The Celtic Connections festival is one of the world’s major folk gatherings, and it makes Glasgow in January one of the bright spots in the universe – you can probably see it from Mars. Hundreds of performers come from all over the world to fill venues all over the city, and if you’re here for the whole three weeks, you’ll get enough folk to last you a lifetime. Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2
Last year, they said it was the best festival ever staged in the city of Glasgow... And, the organisers of the big three week midwinter musical celebration that is Celtic Connections have once again set out to top all previous achievements. The 2009 event which kicks off in January will feature a huge number of roots music and Americana big guns with a line-up that is certain to please the crowds who flock here from all over Europe to escape the January doldrums. Maverick
As each year goes by, the festival becomes progressively less hemmed in by narrow, parochial definitions of what can and can’t be played on its many stages. In a year in which Robert Burns gets a Jamaican dub makeover and the humble banjo is traced back to its African origins, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear a jazz musician playing a classical piece under the banner of the Homecoming Scotland Suite. Musical genres, as well as geographical boundaries, are being blown wide open by the Celtic Connections programmers.Sunday Herald
Celtic Connections 2009 began and ended with spectacular shows which showcased the spirit of collaboration and camaraderie for which the festival has become renowned.
The festival launched with The Cape Breton Connection – a celebration of the rich musical connections between Scottish traditional music and that of Cape Breton. Performers included the revered godfather of Cape Breton fiddle music, Jerry Holland alongside J.P.Cormier, Ashley MacIsaac, Mary Jane Lamond, Corrina Hewat and David Milligan and six-piece family band the Barra MacNeills.
Once again, the festival closed with the sold out Transatlantic Sessions – Bringing It All Back Home. An all-star cast, which included Nanci Griffith, Kathy Mattea and Union Station’s Dan Tyminski (also known as the singing voice of George Clooney in the Coen brothers’ classic O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as well as a host of Celtic talent assembled for a fantastic festival finale.