Those of you from places far and wide and with no unquenchable thirst for Scottish sound are likely to be none the wiser when I mention ‘Celtic Connections’. This is understandable as in the great, worldly scheme of things it probably has as much significance as the great pea mushing festival of Andalucia or the fig flying festival of Thesolonica?? However, for those Scots and beyond who revel in a spot of diddly dee and can’t resist the temptation to whirl a jig, reel or strathspeye…Celtic Connections is Nirvana. ‘Celtic Connections’ was devised to fill an empty month in the Glasgow concert Hall’s season and it has achieved this with wild abandon. During the last week of January and the first two of February Glasgow becomes a broth of bearded loaf men, funky young highlanders with fiddles and jet lagged and alcohol addled agents from mainly Norway, Brittany and Quebec. Numerous Glasgow venues host oodles of music, sometimes as Celtic as can be and sometimes only tentatively suggesting some Celtic link: ie Cerris Matthews form Catatonia (I think the link is Wales).
I was fortunate enough to be attending a trade fair in Glasgow during these heady weeks and had the arduous duty of attending a Scotland on Tour conference after the fair which meant I just had to stay the week in Glasgow.

This involved the burdensome task of meeting up with a lot of friends, partying til 3am two nights in a row and seeing a huge amount of staggeringly good music. No, no…I don’t need your sympathy. The things I do for the Lismore Hall committee.

So…highlights:

Martyn Bennet Tribute gig

Martyn was a much loved member of the Scottish music scene who tragically died after a long battle with cancer at the age of 34.  Friends and family set up The Martyn Bennett trust after he died which now helps to fund creative ventures and educational projects throughout the world. This gig comprised of four compositions inspired by Martyn and they were all absolutely sensational. The musicians were  coming from a mixture of folk, jazz, classical and DJ  disciplines but the composers wove  these disparate and often incompatible musical  threads in to an  intimate and heart wrenching tapestry of sound. My favourite was Fraser Fifields haunting composition marrying the woody tones of the tenor flute with subtle floating rhythms and chords on violin and cello.

Crooked Still

Now this lot I only heard on route to the toilet as they were sound checking. I heard the voice of an angel from behind the doors at the Old fruit market and asked the man swooning at the door who was playing. He professed that he was in love…with the lead singer and that their last album had been looping on his i player for the last two months and he still loved it. I was torn…should I stand up friends to hear this intriguing bluegrass band or go see the Martyn Bennett gig as planned. I then left the old fruitmarket but bought the Crooked Still album later and by God it’s good! A kind of blue grass grunge; Alison Kraus in leather. I utterly recommend it and I think you should go check out their sound right now… (after this post).

And finally…the festival club. The hub for all the musicians, musician’s friends, agents and anyone else who fancies an intense dose of Celtic sound and revelry. A long corridor divides spaces on either side where sessions emerge and grow both musically and bodily into sprawling beasts of notes and sweat and jolting rhythms. I stumbled upon one where 7 fiddlers, a double base player, a guitarist, banjo and whistle player danced their frets with the speed and dexterity of a hummingbird’s wings. The synchronisation of energy and sound transporting the listener into the trance state of the musician and the room is no longer a house of people but a space of scintillating and undivided energy.

Night night

Sweet dreams

x Sarah

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Posted by:mogwaii

Born: 13th March 1969 in Edinburgh Star sign: Pisces Where do I live? An beautiful island called Lismore Who with? I live with my gorgeous man - Yorick, and my beautiful boys Ruben (currently 14) and Tom (10) and we also have cat poppy, cat Bashy and cat Spyro. What do I do there? Water veggies in the polytunnel, loads of mopping up, picking up clothes, cooking and washing dishes. The rest of the time I'm in a blissfull state in my studio making things out of wool and designing the next must have (in my head!) and a lot of cycling to and fro My favourite Books: Right now...empowerment books like "The power of now" and "The Secret", but also John Fowles "The Magus" and "The kite runner" and I love the "Tao of Poo" My Favourite films: Babettes feast, Wings of desire and The colour of Pomegranites. My favourite music: Bach cello suites for designing, Dolly parton for making (especially her album Little Sparrow), Teddy Thompson and loads of other stuff! What did I do before moving to Lismore? * Went to school in Edinburgh (South Morningside primary then St. Mary's music school and then George Watson's) * Went to Brazil for a year, fell in love, learnt Portuguese and spun a lot of wool * Studied foundation in visual arts in Manchester poly and then went on to study BA Hons in textiles at Goldsmith's college * Made felt hats, sold them at Camden market and then eventualy Liberties and had Ruben in the midst of it all - moved to Pathhead * Tom came along and I stopped making hats. sung lots of Jazz, taught Brazilian and samba singing, recorded an album and started singing with La Boum * Tom went to school and I set up Mogwaii * Moved here in 2006 There you go!! xx Sarah (from left) Ruben, me and Tom (from left) Ruben, me and Tom

3 replies on “Celtic connections

  1. This sounds like such a great time! Eric and I love (!) celtic music, so this would’ve been so much fun to see. At least you saw it for us 🙂 And I love all of those Scottish words. Of course, I have no idea what they mean, but they have such a nice ring. Crooked Still sounds great, I’m going over to their website right now!

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