All posts by ConchiDiez

Julie Fowlis at Chicago Cultural Center

Julie Fowlis -
Julie Fowlis – Photo by Conchi Diez

Scottish singer Julie Fowlis will perform at at Chicago Cultural Center on Saturday, April 25, 7 pm at| Claudia Cassidy Theater. Singing in Scottish Gaelic, Julie Fowlis tours around the world bringing ancient songs form the Hebridean Islands to new audiences. Mark Radcliffe of the BBC radio hailed her voice and songs as “enchanting, beguiling and as fascinating as songs by Kate Bush and Björk” and KT Tunstall described her voice as “formidable and amazingly rhythmic.”

Fowlis is the BBC Radio 2 “Folk Singer of the Year 2008” and in a few short years she has taken the music scene by storm, gathering a small army of fans around the world including an impressive list of celebrities including actor Ricky Gervais and Phil Selway from Radiohead. She was publicly voted Gaelic Singer of the Year 2007 and 2005 at the Scots Trad Music Awards, the only singer to have won this prestigious award twice.

Her most recent recordings are Cuilidh and Mar a tha Mo Chridhe.

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Béla Fleck with Africa’s Finest at Celtic Connections 2009

Bela Fleck
Bela Fleck
Béla Fleck – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Auditorium – Saturday, January 17, 2009

After the screening of the documentary titled “Throw Down Your Heart” (moved to Friday January 16 due to his trip to attend the presidential inauguration in Washington), banjo superstar Béla Fleck and his combo made their debut with Africa’s best, achieving great success.

He started with one of his own pieces, played solo, in which he ended playing with his nose. He later introduced ngoni virtuoso Bassekou Kouyate. The ngoni is an ancestor of the banjo. Kouyate and several African percussionists brought the African night ambience to the Concert Hall.

Béla returned on the third piece, where he introduced Scottish artist Kathleen McInnes, who sings in Gaelic and performed a beautiful song without any accompaniment.

Next came Toumani Diabaté, who was limping, and received a great ovation. Béla reminded the audience that Diabate’s recording “The Mande Variations” is a Grammy candidate this year for best traditional world music album. His versatility and masterful technique were evident after he sat down with his large robe in front of his kora, playing a delightful slow piece. His father, Sidiki Diabaté, recorded the first kora album in history in 1970.

And just before the usual 20-minute intermission, Oumou Sangare played a piece together with Béla on banjo, Toumani on kora and Liam Ó Maonlaí on flute.

It was Liam who returned after the break with a love song, again without music, which raised the hairs of the back of my neck. He dedicated it to the victims of the recent air attacks and shootings, a feeling shared by the audience expressed by a large ovation. What’s interesting is that at the end he remained quiet, with his head lowered, seemingly not wanting an applause.

Next came pieces by Béla y Toumani and another by Béla and Liam on flute.

We were reminded of Bela’s DVD documentary as well as Liam’s (about his journeys with Paddy Keenan throughout Malí) called “Dambé, the Mali project”.

Close to the end, Kathleen performed a piece that Béla composed at the Amsterdam airport, with all 13 participating musicians on stage. “An experiment” said the composer. It is clear that it was not well rehearsed.

The lengthy African pieces led several members of the audience to dance in the lateral aisles.

The encore was 8 minutes long, bringing together Béla, Toumani and Oumou to say good bye for the last time.

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The Cape Breton Connection, Opening concert at Celtic Connections 2009

Ashley McIsaac
Ashley McIsaac
With visibly pregnant Scottish harpist Corrina Hewat (who used her condition as a reason for using paper notes on stage) and Gaelic singer Mary Jane Lamond as masters of ceremonies, the Celtic Connections 2009 festival gave its first steps at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall auditorium.

Of the 20 artists gathered for this event, JP Cormier stood out (his stage entry was well celebrated). Although Corrina introduced him as a singer-songwriter (she met him 10 years earlier at Canadian festival Celtic Colours, in Cape Breton), his [wiki:guitar] played the leading role, with a nod to the Beatles by playing a fragment of “Day Tripper”.

Ashley McIsaac  and his [wiki:violin] arrived next. From the audience someone made as comment about his punk hair style and he recognized that he had just arrived from the hair salon. His energetic playing style, rock oriented according to some, received many ovations.  Phamie Gow accompanied McIsaac with her harp. He introduced her as a descendant of Neil Gow, whose compositions were present in his performance. Margaret Bennet participated with her vocals in Gaelic.

 Jerry Douglas received a warm welcome after a 20 minute intermission. He played a mini concert, combined with various collaborations (Margaret on vocals, Kimberley Fraser on piano…). They recognized that Kimberley’s last name was adopted by the family in the past because it sounded more Scottish than the one they used to have and they thought they would get more work in the music field with it. Jerry finished with a beautiful ballad dedicated to his son.

Newcomer couple McGyver / McKintyre added their contribution with their second concert as a duo (their first concert took place in New Year’s Eve).

To round things off, the Barra McNeils filled the stage with their jigs and reels, animating the sober audience at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, who started waving Canadian and Scottish flags for the enjoyment of all. “Morrison’s” was not missing in their repertory, which ended with a dance medley with four of the family members.

Three hours after the event started, all the artists came out to say goodbye to the show that served to start the motor of Celtic Connections 2009. We left past 22.30 (10:30 pm).

Photo: Ashley McIsaac

Translation by : Angel Romero

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Celtic Connections and Homecoming Scotland 2009

Dick Gaugan - Photo by Genia Ainsworth
Dick Gaugan – Photo by Genia Ainsworth
Celtic Connections will unite with Homecoming Scotland to stage some of Scotland’s major celebratory events in honor of the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth, which falls on the middle weekend of the festival.

Homecoming Scotland 2009 is a program of events to celebrate Scotland’s great contributions to the world, running from 25th January (Burns Night) to 30th November (St Andrew’s Day). Inspired by the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth, the Year of Homecoming will encourage Scots, people of Scottish descent, and those who love Scotland to come home in 2009.

 

Celtic Connections will stage five major Homecoming events plus additional events that have been inspired by the theme of homecoming, bringing together a truly international line-up of great artists who have been inspired by its national bard.

  • Auld Lang Syne Saturday 24th January Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Main Auditorium
    A major celebratory concert in which some of Scotland’s leading musicians and singers, including Dougie MacLean, Karen Matheson, Michael Marra, Karine Polwart, Dick Gaughan, John McCusker and Phil Cunningham unite to celebrate the spirit of Burns. They will be joined by some very special guests. Odetta was scheduled to perform, but she passed away recently.
  • Jamaican Burns Night Sunday 25th January Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow
    A unique mash-up of sounds, styles and flavors featuring Jamaican legends Sly and Robbie and Edward II and a host of Scottish talent, as Celtic Connections takes inspiration from what might have been had Burns made his planned trip to Jamaica. Line-up announced: Edwyn Collins, Karine Polwart and Sharon Shannon have joined the bill and the evening will now feature dub versions of the music of Collins’ iconic Glasgow group, Orange Juice as well as specially arranged Burns songs.
  • Homecoming Scotland Suite Sunday 25th January Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Main Auditorium
    A brand new series of pieces commissioned by Celtic Connections and composed and arranged by eight leading composers – Sally Beamish, Brian Byrne, Steve Forman, Tommy Smith, Patsy Reid, Aidan O’Rourke, Greg Lawson and Chris Stout. The Homecoming Scotland Suite will be performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra with guest musicians and vocalists, including Branford Marsalis.
  • Transatlantic Sessions – Bringing It All Back Home Friday 30th January & Sunday 1st February Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Main Auditorium
    As a fitting finale to Celtic Connections’ celebration of Homecoming Scotland 2009, the popular Transatlantic Sessions concerts return to highlight the traditional songs and tunes which crossed the Atlantic with Scottish and Irish emigrants over the last 300 years to form a key bedrock of American roots music. Featuring Nanci Griffith, Kathy Mattea and Dan Tyminski amongst others.

Other Celtic Connections events with a Homecoming theme include Eddi Reader Sings the Songs of Robert Burns, Homebound, the All Star Ceilidh and a Twelve Hour Burns Marathon – a performance of 250 Burns’ songs to celebrate his 250th anniversary.

Venues:
1 – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (GRCH) – Over 100 events including workshops, open stage shows and big gigs in the Auditorium.
2 – City Halls – (around 25 events) including the whisky workshops with master classes and tastings
3 – Old Fruitmarket –.(next to the City Halls, around 15 events, most of them of great quality)
4 – ABC – 14 excellent events
5 – St Andrew’s In The Square – 12 events at the church, all at 20h.
6 – Universal – “Songs of Scotland”
7 – Tron Theatre – 7 events, theatre included.
8 – Classic Grand – 9 events, on the second floor, at 20h.
9 – Oran Mor – 9 events in the farthest venue.
10 – Celtic ConnectionsA – Ceòl’s Craic, films and workshops for 3 days (Jan. 22nd to 24th )
11 – Tall Ship – This boat will host 4 events between the 22nd and the 25th of January)
12 – Pacific Quay (BBC Radio Scotland studios) –
13 – George Square – Torchlight parade with pipe band on the very first afternoon.
14 – Quality Central Hotel – Festival club sessions every night at 22.30h., with the chance to see the artists missed during the day

More at www.celticconnections.com

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Celtic Connections 2009 Will Present the Most international Edition to Date

Bela Fleck
Bela Fleck
Europe’s premier winter music festival, Celtic Connections enters into its 16th year in 2009. The most international Celtic Connections festival to date will see artists from Africa, India, Russia, Jamaica, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Norway, France, the USA, as well as the cream of home-grown talent, perform in Glasgow in a week’s time.

Taking place over 18 days (January 15th to February 1st ), Celtic Connections is a major event in the folk and world music calendar. Each year, visitors from around the globe are welcomed to the festival, where international artists perform alongside the very best Scottish talent.

 

Artistic Director, Capercaillie’s Donald Shaw, will once again be inviting over 1,500 artists from every continent to perform in Glasgow. Around 300 concerts, ceilidhs, talks, free events, workshops and late-night sessions in 14 venues across the city!

Celtic Connections is not just all about great concerts and sessions, visual arts have an important part to play too. Four exhibitions will run throughout the festival.
The festival has been honored with an award in recognition of its contribution to Scotland’s tourism industry, with the festival winning the Events and Festivals – International award at the Scottish Thistle Awards.

Bela Fleck’s “Throw Down Your Heart” film will be screened at Celtic Connections. The award-winning film Throw Down Your Heart will be shown on Monday 19th January, followed by a Q&A session with the legendary banjo player himself. This film inspired the concert featuring Oumou Sangare, Toumani Diabaté and Bassekou Kouyate which takes place on Saturday 17th January.

This year’s Classic Albums strand will see three great records – Richard Thompson’s 1000 Years of Popular Music, Battlefield Band’s Home is Where the Van Is and Catriona McKay’s Starfish – performed in their entirety.

The Celtic Connections Education Program enters into its 11th year in 2009. Over 15,000 children will enjoy 8 free schools concerts in January, with a further 2000 children benefiting from free in-school workshops.

Venues:
1 – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (GRCH) – Over 100 events including workshops, open stage shows and big gigs in the Auditorium.
2 – City Halls – (around 25 events) including the whisky workshops with master classes and tastings
3 – Old Fruitmarket –.(next to the City Halls, around 15 events, most of them of great quality)
4 – ABC – 14 excellent events
5 – St Andrew’s In The Square – 12 events at the church, all at 20h.
6 – Universal – “Songs of Scotland”
7 – Tron Theatre – 7 events, theatre included.
8 – Classic Grand – 9 events, on the second floor, at 20h.
9 – Oran Mor – 9 events in the farthest venue.
10 – Celtic ConnectionsA – Ceòl’s Craic, films and workshops for 3 days (Jan. 22nd to 24th )
11 – Tall Ship – This boat will host 4 events between the 22nd and the 25th of January)
12 – Pacific Quay (BBC Radio Scotland studios) –
13 – George Square – Torchlight parade with pipe band on the very first afternoon.
14 – Quality Central Hotel – Festival club sessions every night at 22.30h., with the chance to see the artists missed during the day

More at www.celticconnections.com

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Celtic Group Flook Disbands

Flook
Flook

Anglo-Irish band Flook sent a Christmas message announcing that it is disbanding. "We wanted to wish you a very Happy Christmas and also to share some news with you," said a band press release. "After 13-plus years, hundreds of gigs, millions of miles traveled together and countless brilliant times, we’ve decided to call it a day. It might be forever or a prolonged pause, who knows, but we’re all still great friends and will always remain so. This might sound like a cliché but it is deeply truthful. after 13 years of concerts, thousands of miles and many great moments."

Flook’s unique combination of flutes, underpinned by fluid [wiki;guitar] and hugely impressive bodhram (Irish frame drum) playing made them one of the most popular groups on the live music circuit in Great Britain. Flook won the Best Group award at the BBC Folk Music Awards in 2006. The most recent line-up included: Sarah Allen, Ed Boyd, Brian Finnegan and John Joe Kelly.

Buy the group’s CDs:

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