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Celtic Connections

Celtic Connections Scotland’s premier winter music festival begins it 19th year on the 19th January and again a wealth of talent will be performing in venues right across Glasgow during the 18 days.  We will again be joining Celtic Music Radio as they broadcast live from Glasgow Royal Concert Hall bringing you a taste of the what some of the 2000 plus musicians have on offer.  This year includes acts such as Bruce Hornsby, Ana Mora, The Big Dish, Duncan Lyall, Manran, Maderson Violet and Chemikal Underground.  These are only a small selection of the artistes which cover nearly every type of music from the four corners of the world.

In addition to the concerts, there is alos the late night sessions, ceilidhs, exhibitions and workshops.  If you have ever fancied trying a traditional musical instrument this is a great opportunity to do so.  Instruments including whistle, ukuele, fiddle  and singing.  If you don’t have an instrument don’t worry as they are available.  Speaking from experience it is a wonderful way to try out something new, there are also beginner and improver classes as well as a fiddle master class with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Hass.  For more information go to

Celtic Connections 2011

Celtic Connections is once again taking place in Glasgow during January. This year the event runs from Thursday 13th to Sunday 30th January 2011 with over 300 concerts, ceilidhs, talks, workshops, free events and late night sessions taking place in 14 venues across Glasgow.

Some of the acts performing this year include The Waterboys, The Unusual Suspects, Treacherous Orchestra, Blind Boys of Alabama, Mavis Staples, Seth Lakeman, Teddy Thompson, Keltic Tales and Love and Money will reform for one night only.

Celtic Music Radio will be broadcasting live from the Concert Hall throughout Celtic Connections and our roving reporters will be reporting all the going ons. For more information and to book tickets go to


From the 78 acts that performed during this years festival only 6 could be chosen as winners,with the high level of talent displayed from all the  acts making the choice extremely difficult for the judges to pick the winners and those that were highly commended and I am sure that some peoples favourites were not on the final list.  Lets hope that they will return next year to try again as Yuptae did as it was third time lucky for them.

Iona Marshall –

Yuptae –

Broken Strings –

Tensheds –

The JPTrio -

Rura –


It was a bit of a squeeze to get the first act on stage as there are more than 30 members in the Strathclyde University Folk Ensemble but the sound from all the fiddlers, flutes, guitars, cellos, harps and accordians plus singer was wonderful but I am partial to a good fiddle orchestra.

John Colleto provided a very different act, John who used to be a member of the Humpff Family is now a one man band playing his guitar, ukele, harmonica and foot drum as well as singing his own compositions, most of which were humorous songs including ’Putty Riches’ especially for children.


Megan, Kirsteen and Sean are a trio of musicians who all play with other bands. They play traditional music on the guitar, fiddle and keyboard. With an Orkney connection several of the tunes were from Orkney including a set which included a mix of fast and slow fiddle tunes. While their last set of reels took you on a tour from Cape Breton, to Shetland then Denmark.

To finish of the night we heard Paul Malcolm a very good singer songwriter who sang mainly mellow tunes including ‘Down Town’ which is a love song about New York


Fake Gods are a duo of male singer songwriters who play guitar who favour sad slow songs. unfortunately I think the nerves got the better of them as they took nearly 5 minutes between each song to retune their guitars.

Gwen is a much travelled young lady who hails from Wales and is currently teaching at the Glasgow Gaelic School. She preformed various styles of music on her Harp even making a jig seem relaxing when played on the Harp. We were treated to a Welsh nursery rhyme and a traditional Gaelic tune to Gwen’s own arrangement which started off very traditional and them became quite jazzy.

The Sundancers are a five piece band who play contemporary music which to me was reminiscient of the 60′s Bluesy Rock, one ‘The Lamplugh Song’ took me back to smoky underground clubs. If you can find their video on YouTube you can see if you agree.

Next up was Danny’s regular Martin Jones a singer songwriter who plays many different styles and often sings in Spanish as well as English. This year he started with a Blues number which he wrote when he was still at school, followed by a couple of his own compositions and a Bob Dylan song.


Tonights first act were the Bishopbriggs Ceilidh Band, who formed a year ago when another group disbanded and the 13 year old soloist Katy O’Neil persuaded her father Peter to take over. They now have around 35 members mainly of school age who practice on a Tueday night and include accordianists, drums, fiddles and guitars. Although they are a ceilidh  band playing mainly music from Scotland and Ireland many of the band had never played Ceilidh music before so Peter has introduced some new arrangements which mixes old with new, I bet there is not mant of you out there who has heard a medley of Mhairies Wedding and Radio GaGa by Lady Gaga. You can catch a rehearsal of this song on Youtube along with some other clips of this talented young band.

Sarah Horn and James Cudworth are a duo who formed a year ago and hail from Yorkshire. They played an international range of traditional tunes from Scotland, France, Romania and England with a mix of slow and fast tempos which showed of their skills on the fiddle and guitar.

Tochara (Uplifting) also brought an international feel to the stage but this time it was with the performers which consisted on a Tasmanian, an American, a German and A Scotsmans. The sang mainly taditional style Scottish songs, some of which they had written themselves, accompanied by guitar, flute and penny whistle. They added a couple of twists by singing a happy gaelic song accompanied by the Sitar and singing ‘John Anderson’ by Robert Burns in a Jazz style both of which worked very well.

Colin Campbell is a pharmacist and part time farmer from Fochabers in Aberdeenshire who still manages to find time to be a singer songwriter. With his compositions including ‘Close the Door’ about farmers having to leave their farms and ‘Just another New Year’ which had the wonderfully evocative line “Onion in milk” as a tribute to his mother who always seemed to be making bread sauce.

The evenings performances were finished by Pilgrims Way a traditional English folk group from Stockport comprising of Tom, Lucy and Edwin. The played traditional hand clapping tunes along with  Archie Fishers love song ‘Dark Eyed Molly’ aswell as some of Edwins own compositions’

Celtic Connections 2010

Celtic Connections is happening in Glasgow until the 31st JanuaryCeltic Connections2010. This is the biggest winter music festival in Europe featuring over 1500 artistes from over 30 countries across the globe with performers as well known as Bobby McFerrin, the Chieftains to less well known but equally special. The performances also happen in a wide range of settings from the Concert Hall, the ABC, the Fruitmarket to bars and clubs. There is also workshops, discussions and exhibitons happening catering for a wide range of ages and abilities. If you ever just fancied playing an instruments then one of the workshops could be perfect. Just take a wander into the Concert Hall if your in Glasgow and see what is happening, there are several stalls and you never know who you may bump into. For further information about whats happening during the festival go to

Danny Kyle’s Open Stage
Held in the memory of well known Scottish folk singer Danny Kyle who passed away in 1998 this show gives the chance for less well known singers to win one of six places in the final showcase concert along with the chance of a supporting slot during next years festival. Competition is stiff with performers travelling from all over the world to take part; with one so keen he flew in from America for the day to compete. Four judges will mark the competitors on their musical performance, their stage presence and the reaction of the audience, I’m just glad it is not me who has to make the decision.
This show is a wonderful showcase of new talent and a great opportunity for a snapshot of the various styles of music on offer during the festival. Even better it’s free but you need to be early as there is limited space so you need to be there especially if you want a seat, they start queuing at 4pm for a 5pm start.

The Winners of Danny Kyle’s Open Stage 2010 where
Michael Clarke
Ben Powall
Seonaid Aitken
Rachel Sermanni

The Winners where all presented with a certificate a medal and a bottle of whisky or irn-bru if they where underage. They will also all be playing as a support act at next years Celtic Connections. If you wish further information about the bands check out their web pages or go to Celtic Music Radios website as they have some of the evnings recording on their listen againg page. I will get the rest of the nights written up soon.

Danny Kyles Open Stage Monday 25th January

Starting tonight was young female singer songwriter Emma Gillespie who has just released her debut single ‘Stamp Your Feet’. She is very much in the vein of the recent batch of female singersongwriters that have come from Scotland. Keep an ear out when you see a busker as she quite often likes to try out her new stuff by busking.

Danny Kyle’s Open Stage Wednesday 20th January
Kicking of tonight where friends Ian Main and Andrew Lyon who have been playing together for the last 3-4 years though they have been friends for longer. They sing play guitar, mandolin and fiddle to mixture of tunes including traditional, modern folk and Irish tunes. They also write their own pieces one a slow air which was written by Ian on the Isle of Taransay after watching the sun rise over Harris a lovely piece which if a certain insect had got its way would never have been written.
John Taylor a singer songwriter from Wishaw who is already onto his second Album ‘A Place called Paradise’ which was released on the 23rd. A melancholy sound as he said himself he doesn’t tend to do happy songs.

Then we had 2 girl singersongwriters Robyn and Amy who where joined by Ian murray on percussion. They played a mix of modern and traditional folk adding an extra to ‘The Dark Island’ by having a piper join them for the last verse.
Things moved uptempo with the next group Stushie. These ten young musicians are from the Callander area, the group has twice won the group competition at the National Mod and many have been individual Mod Medal winners. They play a mix traditional and contemporary music showing their versatility tonight by playing Jigs, Reels, Ruby don’t take your love to town and a jaunty little tune about the whaler ‘The Diamond@ adding their own little twist including playing the fiddle like a ukelele.

Iain Murray was busy as he also suported the last act and it was down to him that they where here as Liz was looking for a last minute replacement for a group that had dropped out. So Iain called his friend Michael Clarke who hotfooted it to the concert Hall with his cousin Olivia. Michael and Olivia usually sings with their band Accoustic Butterflys. Their genre is a mix of acoustic, celtic and folk with Michaels distinctive vocals anf their interesting lyrics, one song was about butterflys and another lifted lyrics form ‘All Smiles’ which was a jazz song sung by Annie Ross – Johnny Logans sister.

Danny Kyle’s Open Stage Monday 18th January

The evening started with with Susan a gospel singer from San Francisico, who has already tasted fame when singing a solo along with her gospel choir in the film ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’. Gospel is believed to have celtic roots and has been traced back to the style of singing in some Scottish Churches where they use presenters.

Vivien Scotson and Patrick Bullen both accomplished singer songwriters met at last years festival at the House of Song and enjoyed playing togetherso much just carried on .

Another singer songwriter was Martin Jones from Scotland but who has spent several years in Spain whose influences come across in his songs. He also sang a song Music Hall Man with bits taken from the old Music Hall Classic Sally’s Sleepy Valley Alley which he wrote in about his uncle Peter Martin.

Danny Kyle’s Open Stage Sunday 17th January
Tyde a young band from Northumberland who play traditional folk music with a twist including their own compositions ‘Exploding Bananas’ and ‘Look of Death’ which apparently was named after the look he was given by the fiddle players and seeing this fast paced piece of music.
Wing and a Prayer see them self as an educationalist outfit they have been on the music scene for a while one of them having previously played in the Kelvin Delta Blues Band. They play various types of folk music with quite a bluesy feel.
Wild Sarchs are a folk group from Campletown – their name is a local colloquialism for an inconvience – they sang Kintyre songs many in the Kintyre dialect in a rang of tempos. With the audiences favourite probably being the one about every Scotsman dream “Campletown Loch I wish you Where Whisky”
This was Eilidh Pattersons first Scotish Gig she is a singer song writer originally from Derry but now based in Belfast. She is a singer song writer who performed traditional songs and her own songs which are influenced by folk, country, bluegrass and gospel, with Eilidh citing Willie Nelson having inspired some of her songs.
The last group of the night Four Square nearly never made it as their car broke down on the way to Glasgow. They play traditional English Folk tunes with a contemporary twist which included playing the fiddle with chopsticks. Or the tune Beatrice which required the audience to clapp and ‘ooh aah’ likea pirate, with the fiddle player showing her other skill as a tap dancer

Gordon Duncan Memorial Solo Piping Competition Sunday 17th January

This competition is held in memory of Gordan Duncan who was one of the most skilled and innovative traditional music performers and composers of maodern times who sadly passed away in 2005 aged only 41. His talent and energy brought traditional bagpipes into the mainstream. This has been carried on by Fred Morrison, many of Duncans pupils and can be heard in many of the contemporary piping bands of today.

The competition features some of the worlds finest pipers and is held along the lines of a Pan Celtic competition where the pipers play a Scottish Set featuring a Strathspey, Reel and March followed by a Breton Set which was less structured than the Scottish Set with Breton Melodies and a Breton Dance piece where the juges where looking out for the step markers. In the next session they play an Irish Set. The sets are judged by two judges from each Country with Ian Duncan and Ronnie McShannon representing Scotland, Herve Le Floch and Erwan Ropars representing Breton and Lenny Browne and David Caldwell representing Ireland.

There are three pipers from each country, Alan Tulloch from Ireland started the competition, the other Irish Pipers where Jonathan Greenlees who has played with Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band for 25 years and has been All Ireland winner twice and Pibroch section winner five times. Lastly and only just for Ireland was Andrew Carlisle from County Antrim who had flown in from Kansas, his flight was delayed but he still managed to get there to play. He had been competing in the North Americ Gold Medal where he took third, he has also been Ulster Champion three times, All Ireland Champion three times and was the winner of the Gordon Duncan Memorial trophy in 2008.
Representing Breton we had Sylvain Hamon who was the first winner of this competition. Xavier Boderiou from Brittany who plays with The Simon Fraser University Pipe Band. Their final representative was Alexis Meunier who was also from Brittany and has won the Breton Champioship for the last two years.
The Scottish contingency comprised of Willie McCallum who is the most prolific piping prizewinner of recent times being 8 times world champion. Inverarays Stuart Liddell who is current holder of the Glenfiddich Champioshio and pipe major of Inveraray and District Pipe Band which won every championship at Grade 2 last year and are know competing in Grade 1. The Breton contingency where very impressed by his playing of the Dance piece in the Breton Set. Glen Brown is based in Scotland but hails from Ontario he has won both the Canadian and American Gold Medals.

Congratulations to Stuart Liddell from Inveraray who came second Willie McCallum came first and Xavier Boderiou was third.

Danny Kyles Open Stage 16th January 2010
Saturday night is the first night for the first of the 80 acts that have been chosen from the hundreds that applied to try to impress the judges and the audience. The opening act was Fiona Keenan a singer songwriter who plays guitar originally from Aberdeen but now based in Dublin. She sings Protest Songs of a topical nature lines including British jobs for British workers, and fat cat bankers could be heard. She has supported David Rovick, a well known Protest song singer and has even written the tune for one of his songs.
Then we had a much more traditional folk group Elaine Davidson and Danny Hart from Cumbria. Elaines vocals had a haunting quality about them in some of the songs. They redressed the balance of Cumbrias famous fox hunting songs by singing one about a wiley fox.

The True Gents raised the tempo with their guitrs, fiddles, drums, mandolin and squeezebox. This seven piece admited theyhad taken a couple of years of practice to get here. This paid of as they showed their versatility by bringing the tempo down before revving it up again with a handclapping finale.

Pembrokeshire singersonwriter Lowrie Evans added a twist by singing in Welsh as well as English. She is a well travelled young lady going as far as South America and has played support to many well known artistes in these travels.

The evening finished with a very different sound with a band from Edinburgh called Gol they reflect the multicultural nature of Scotland. This six piece are influenced by Jazz, World Music, Pop and Iranian music. This ecletic mix was shown in one song that was dedicated to the freedom fighters which had Persian lyrics, a North African Tune played on Western and Iranian instruments

Danny Kyle’s Open Stage 15th January 2010

The opening night of Danny Kyle’s Open stage is a chance to see all of last years winners before they played their supporting gigs, the first band Skalder where actually rushing off to St Andrews in the Square for their gig. They are a traditional quartet with a twist from Orkney and showed their wide repertoire by going from a lively piece to a slow melodic one then a very atmospheric piece they had written themselves about a nightmare.

Then we had singer songwriter Craig Jeffrey from Galashiels in the Borders. Craig has a very soulful voice which lends itself very well to his expressive lyrics and adept guitar playing.

You could well have been forgiven for thinking that the next band Anarkali originated in India when in fact they are from Govanhill in Glasgow of Irish descent which was evidedent in their music with its foot stomping beat. The name is actually from their favourite Indian restaurant.

The magic Lantern Show where another band with an Irish influence mixed in with Celtic and Folk, they played a mix of soulfull and uptempo tunes, with their last one having everyone clapping along and looking out for the nonsensical line – I’d have a guess at ‘hitch a ride on a psychodelic smile’

Singer Lucy Pringle who was accompanied on the mandolin by Charles Wright where more traditional singing in old Scots. They mainly play mellow Scottish tunes but can through in the odd humorous number. And tonight they included a lovely Norwegian love poem which had been translated into old Scots.

Finishing the evening where Tyskie who take traditional tunes and add a contemporary twist of their own. They are a trio comprising of harp, bodhran and fiddle which is played by Daniel Thorpe who is competing in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Final 2010. They also write their own pieces including an unusual one in 16:18 time especially for their bodhran player.

All these young artistes played very accomplished sets and I know it will not be the last time we see them at Celtic Connections very likely headlining their own gigs.


  1. Celtic connections was a very good experience for me. I not only got to see the band who were playing, but some of the interviews too.
    2 artists,- Barluath were really good & I think they will go far,but one to watch for is Stephanie Mann. The girl was not only good, but extremely funny also.
    A huge thanks goes to FOH (front of house) engineers who kindly let me pester them for a while & a big thanks to Joe who showed me soo much what goes into a live show & taking the time to explain. Also to Colin & William who let me up at the sound stage & backstage. These guys were really friendly & very patient, & the sound was good too. Hope to be back next year & who knows may see them again & be qualified by then!


    So much better sitting at home listening in to Celtic Connections A lot of listeners like myself do enjoy listening to the Celtic music and the chat my own favourites are Liz Clark and Gordon Hotchkiss that’s not to take anything away from all the other wonderful presenters at Celtic Radio or Dunoon Radio.
    Heres to the biggest Celtic Connections yet-Scotts-wahhay


    Congratulations for a wonderful first weeks Celtic Connections broadcast. To be informed and to be able to listen to all thats going on without leaving your armchair is trully what radio is about .
    Well done everyone connected with Dunoon Radio you have achieved so much in a month of broadcasting to your community.
    Arthur and Isobel

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