Celtic Connections Opening Night Features 2007 Winners, as well as Americana, Celtica and Benbecula Night

Celtic Connections begins January 17 with the Opening Night showcasing Danny Kyle’s Open Stage Winners 2007 at 5pm at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Exhibition Hall. Admission is free. Hosted by Danny Kyle’s good friends Gibb Todd and Liz Clark, the Open Stage is a chance to see new musical talent as they try to win a coveted support slot at next year’s festival. Featuring last year’s winners: The Rooney Family, Lazy Boy Chair, TNT – The New Tradition, Harriet Earis, Ryan Young and Wingin’ It.

The rest of the program that evening is:

Benbecula Night
Thu 17 January, 6pm
City Halls, Recital Room

Traditional music students and tutors from Lews College Benbecula showcase the island’s past and future musical heritage, with performances from Flying Fiddles, Iain MacDonald, Anna-Wendy Stevenson and Will Lamb.

Steve Earle with special guest Allison Moorer
Thu 17 January, 7:30pm
£22, £20
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Main Auditorium

Widely regarded as one of the United States’ greatest living songwriters, Steve Earle recently celebrated his move from Nashville to New York with his latest studio release Washington Square Serenade.

A tribute partly to the city’s 1960s folk-revival heyday, partly to its 21st-century melting-pot, and partly to Earle’s wife, fellow singer-songwriter Allison Moorer, the album was produced by the Dust Brothers’ John King, marrying Earle’s bare-knuckle eloquence and sinewy lyricism with hip-hop and Latin sounds.

Moorer’s career, after a childhood blighted by her parents’ murder-suicide, charts a degree of triumph over adversity rare even in country music circles. It’s only apt, therefore, that her most recent work, on 2004’s The Duel and 2006’s Getting Somewhere, has seen her transcend the genre from which she first emerged, setting her arresting smoky alto and increasingly assured songwriting amidst a potent blend of rock, blues, folk and classic pop.

Flook & friends with Damien Dempsey
Thu 17 January, 7:30pm

No strangers to Celtic Connections, the brilliant Anglo/Irish four-piece Flook pull out all the stops for this year’s return visit, with the first ever performance of the Flook Big Band. Winners of the Best Group title at the 2006 Radio 2 Folk Awards, Flook are joined by several of the guest musicians from their last two albums, Rubai and Haven. With some of the artists meeting for the first time onstage, a night of fresh inspiration and thrilling ensemble fireworks is guaranteed.

Merging the influences of traditional sean-nós singing with those of early heroes like Bob Marley and Elvis, the multi-award-winning Irish singer-songwriter Damien Dempsey counts stars like Christy Moore, Morrissey and Sinead O’Connor among his ever expanding fan-base. Subjects covered on his recent fifth album, To Hell or Barbados, range from today’s Dublin drug scene to 17th-century Irish history, addressed with Dempsey’s trademark blend of incisive observation, ebullient poetry and black-edged humor.

Luke Daniels & Donald Grant’s Islands with The Shee
Thu 17 January, 8pm
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Strathclyde Suite
The music and singing traditions of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Mann are distinctive voices in the cultural tapestry of the islands of Britain. Drawing on oral traditions that are both historical and contemporary, this project explores the distinctive expressions and the shared sources of the cultural communities of these islands through artistic collaboration across different genres. Remembering the past, recognizing the present, and sensing the future.

Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2006, Borders fiddler Shona Mooney appears tonight with her new six-woman band The Shee, comprising three lead vocalists with fiddles, flute, harp, mandolin and foot percussion, whose repertoire ranges from Gaelic songs to bluegrass tunes.

While & Matthews with Edwina Hayes
Thu 17 January, 8pm
St Andrew’s in the Square

The internationally acclaimed vocal/songwriting partnership of Chris While and Julie Matthews recently celebrated fourteen years as a duo with their latest CD, Stage 2. Up-and-coming Irish-born singer-songwriter Edwina Hayes opens the show.

Liam Clancy & members of Danú with Archie Fisher
Thu 17 January, 9pm
Old Fruitmarket

As the youngest of the iconic Tipperary fraternity who took the world by storm in the 1950s and 60s, Liam Clancy was hailed by Bob Dylan as "the best ballad singer I ever heard in my life".

Tonight this legendary entertainer hosts a musical gathering of family and friends, along with members of the powerhouse Waterford band Danú. These Celtic Connections regulars have won numerous top awards, combining brilliantly no-holds-barred instrumental attack with the sublime singing of Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh.

Clancy’s celebrated duo with his former bandmate Tommy Makem, from 1975 to 1988, was often accompanied on guitar by one Archie Fisher, who also produced several of their albums. Nowadays the longtime presenter of BBC Radio Scotland’s Travelling Folk, Archie joins his old friend for an evening of songs, tunes and stories, no doubt including many a tribute to Makem, who died in 2007. The concert will air live as a special edition of Travelling Folk.

Celtic Connections Festival Club hosted by Gibb Todd
Opening Night
Thu 17 January, 10:30pm
Central Hotel

The late night club ensures there is even more music to enjoy after all the gigs are over. Join local and international artists as they make special unbilled appearances or join in one of many sessions happening in the bars.

Master of ceremonies, Gibb Todd returns to present each act on stage and Doris Rougvie hosts The House of Song in a peaceful oasis away from the main stage.
Tickets can be booked:

In person Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
2 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow, G2 3NY
City Halls and Old Fruitmarket
Glasgow, G1 1NQ
By phone 0141 353 8000
Online www.celticconnections.com