Isles musicians to the fore once more at Celtic Connections

A fair sprinkling of Shetland talent will be on show at the 17th Celtic Connections festival, which takes place in Glasgow from 14th to 31st January next year.

Not surprisingly, isles fiddlers are again in demand, with Aly Bain, Chris Stout, Jenna and Bethany Reid and Kevin Henderson among the 1,500 artistes performing in over 300 events in the 18-day festival.

Some of the biggest US names appearing include singer/songwriters Tom Paxton, Ry Cooder, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tom Russell and Beth Neilsen-Chapman, former 10,000 Maniacs frontwoman Natalie Merchant and Mavericks lead vocalist Raul Malo.

Ireland is represented by the legendary Chieftains, Maura O’Connell and Cara Dillon, England by father and daughter Martin and Eliza Carthy and more, while from further afield comes Carlos Núñez from Galicia, African Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo, Kikaido Kazumi and Shugo Tokumaru from Japan and Brazilians Fernanda Cabral and Alan Souza. Nearer home there is Orkney interest with Wolfstone, Kris Drever and The Chair.

Typically the festival includes several one-off collaborative shows, including an interesting one between two of India’s most distinguished musicians – percussionist Trilok Gurtu and singer/composer Shankar Mahadevan – and the highly-regarded Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek.

Bain will once again be at the forefront of the popular Transatlantic Sessions, at the Glasgow Concert Hall on the the final Friday and Sunday of January. With fellow musical director Jerry Douglas they will be joined by a host of well-known names from both the British Isles and US, including Tim and Mollie O’Brien, Dan Tyminski, Bruce Molsky, Russ Barenberg, Danny Thompson and Karen Mathieson.

Bain also teams up with Mathieson and the Scottish Ensemble for a concert on Saturday 23rd January in the City Halls.

The Reid sisters are presenting a brand new suite of original music on Thursday 21st January, based on The Shetland Bus, the World War II operation transporting resistance agents, equipment and refugees between the isles and Nazi-occupied Norway. They were inspired by the story of Jan Baalsrud, one of the campaign’s heroes.

Stout will be performing at the Fiddle Summit concert on Friday 22nd January, along with Scotland’s Alasdair Fraser, Swedish trio Väsen, US stars Darol Anger and Liz Carroll and Martin Hayes from Ireland. Also on the bill are cello prodigy Natalie Haas and harpist Catriona McKay, well known locally as a member of Fiddlers’ Bid.

Henderson is appearing in Nordic Tone, originally staged during this year’s Shetland Folk Festival. A combination of 25 young musicians from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Shetland, the show is described as a “dynamic exchange of kindred traditions and contemporary influences”.

Many of the other musicians starring at the festival have also recently appeared at the Shetland Folk Festival, such as Breabach, Felpeyu, Henrik Jansberg, Le Vent du Nord and Madison Violet, while others like Dave Swarbrick, Dick Gaughan and the Old Blind Dogs are veterans from the earlier days of the isles event.

Shetland music is also showcased at the Tron Theatre on Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd January with two performances of Long Gone Lonesome, a new production based on the life of the late Thomas Fraser of Burra.

Written by Duncan Mclean and featuring Orkney-based The Lone Star Swing Band, the musical tells the story of the shy fisherman who has achieved great posthumous fame with the release of four CDs of his original tape-deck recordings.

Tickets for all events are now available, either by calling 0141 353 8000 or online at


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