Over 2000 of the best known artists in traditional and roots music, world, indie, jazz, folk, soul and Americana descended on Glasgow from all corners of the globe for a fantastic 18 days of world-class music.
Festival highlights of Celtic Connections 2015 included: Van Morrison, Fairport Convention, Calexico, Craig Armstrong with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Shooglenifty, Tweedy, Eddi Reader, Treacherous Orchestra, Lambchop, Carlos Núñez, Danú, King Creosote performing ‘From Scotland With Love’, Angélique Kidjo with the RSNO, Punch Brothers, Dick Gaughan, Le Vent Du Nord, Blazin’ Fiddles, Tommy Emmanuel, Hudson Taylor, The Pierces and Taraf de Haidouks, Mischa Macpherson, Tony Allen and Skerryvore.
Celtic Connections continues to have international appeal and enhances Glasgow’s reputation as a major tourist destination. Fans visited from all corners of the globe to experience the best in traditional, folk, roots, world and indie music. An impressive 99.58% of visitors would like to come back to visit Celtic Connections next year and 99.72% would recommend the festival to others. Festival fans attended an average of 4 events.
Sold-out shows included Van Morrison, The Crew of the Puffer, Crossing the Minch, Jimmie Macgregor and friends, Frances Black & Kieran Goss, Karine Polwart with Sam Amidon, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan performing together for the first time, Kathryn Tickell, Skerryvore with DàimhMor, Lambchop, Slainte Mhath, The Barr Brothers, Niteworks, Eddi Reader, Dick Gaughan, A Moray Journey, Allison Moorer, Hudson Taylor, Ian Carr, Arthur Johnstone & friends, Horizons (featuring Kate Rusby and Declan O’Rourke), California Feetwarmers, The Sea Road Sessions, King Creosote performing ‘From Scotland With Love’, The Fiddletree, Shooglenifty’s 25th Anniversary, Nils Lofgren, Fish & Bird with Sorren Maclean, Adam Sutherland Band of course the ever-popular Transatlantic Sessions.
The reach and engagement of the festival's social media was fantastic this year. The Celtic Connections Facebook page topped 26,500 likes and Twitter followers now stand at nearly 16,000.
The middle weekend of Celtic Connections also featured a major showcase of Scottish music, with 180 international music industry delegates from 26 countries in town to sample the cream of Scottish musical talent performing as part of Showcase Scotland at Celtic Connections. The largest gathering of the international music community in Scotland, Showcase Scotland provides acts with the opportunity to perform in front of promoters, record labels and agents from countries all over the world. The exposure that artists gain can lead to record deals and overseas touring contracts, promoting Scottish music and artists to new audiences around the world.
The Celtic Connections Education Programme celebrated a successful 18th year, with high profile festival acts including Blazin’ Fiddles, Le Vent Du Nord and Carlos Núñez performing free concerts for school-children in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
The Celtic Connections Opening Concert ‘Nae Regrets’ - Martyn Bennett’s GRIT was a fantastic sell out success. The live world première, of an almost entirely studio-created album, was lovingly reconstructed by violinist and composer Greg Lawson for a custom-designed orchestra of folk, jazz and classical players. It was an opening night to remember with five star reviews and people, who attended or watched the BBC Scotland recording of it a week later, raving about it on social media with fans describing it as “beyond beautiful” and “stunning, joyful, emotional, amazing” and saying they had “cried tears of sheer joy” at the orchestration of the fearless album.
Perhaps the ultimate secret to the Transatlantic Sessions’ winning formula is that there is, ultimately, no formula, beyond the magic of world-class musicians, drawn from diverse but kindred fields either side of the pond, inspiring one another afresh. Familiar as Celtic Connections audiences are with the shows’ tried and tested framework, for performers it remains a rare chance to cut loose from their customary territory, in cahoots with an A-list mix of old and new friends, and stretch their creative wings. As last year’s Telegraph reviewer observed, “There is something pure about these concerts.”
Epitomising the calibre of line-up that the event now routinely attracts, Rodney Crowell made his first appearance among the US contingent, as his 40-year career continues on a renewed artistic roll. After sharing a Grammy with Emmylou Harris for their 2013 duets collection Old Yellow Moon, he reaped further plaudits the following year for his latest solo release, the gutsy yet eloquent Tarpaper Sky. Fellow Grammy-winner Patty Griffin has long been acclaimed as one of contemporary Americana’s most distinctively poetic voices, most recently for her seventh album American Kid, a movingly meditative tribute to her late father.
Also new to the show was Devon-born guitarist and singer John Smith, whose stunning steel-strung guitar work and earthily compelling songs won him many new fans when he supported Nic Jones here in 2013, while ex-Nickel Creek singer and fiddler Sara Watkins, now forging a successful solo career, and all-round US roots maestro Dirk Powell were both welcome return visitors. Kathleen MacInnes brought sublime vocals from Scotland, alongside other familiar faces including the ever-wonderful Tim O’Brien and guitar hero Russ Barenberg. Musical directors Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas once again led the dream-team house band of Phil Cunningham, Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker, Danny Thompson, John Doyle, James Mackintosh and Donald Shaw.
“…the success of Celtic Connections is equally miraculous, considering the time of year it is held, the level of competition from other music events in the city…and the fact that the festival is still being run on a relative shoestring…[Celtic Connections] provides the greatest single showcase of Scottish culture.”
The Scotsman, 18th January 2015
“If there’s one thing that makes wintertime in Glasgow great then it’s Celtic Connections.”
The Guardian, 12th January 2015
“With less than two weeks to go until the festival kicks off, musicians and music fans are already anticipating one of the most exciting music festivals in the world.”
The National, 6th January 2015
“This was a triumphant concert for Celtic Connections [Ganesh Kumaresh with Trio AAB] and underlines its influence in the development of new music where boundaries cease to exist.”
The Herald, 19th January 2015