Shetland fiddlers Aly Bain, Chris Stout, Kevin Henderson and Jenna Reid are among the line-up for next year’s Celtic Connections festival.
The islanders join luminaries such as pianist Bruce Hornsby, singers Aaron Neville and Martha Reeves and banjo legend Béla Fleck at the event, along with well-known Scottish talent such as KT Tunstall, King Creosote and Dick Gaughan.
The festival, sponsored by ScottishPower, lasts from 19th January until 5th February and features over 2,000 artistes. Some of the biggest names in folk, traditional, roots, jazz, blues and world music will be performing at 300 concerts at 20 venues in Glasgow.
Henderson and Reid will be appearing with their respective bands Session A9 and Blazin’ Fiddles while Bain is once again at the forefront of the hugely popular Transatlantic Sessions, giving the “ultimate back-porch” feel to the festival finale.
Stout and a fellow Fiddlers’ Bid member, harpist Catriona McKay, are involved with a new concerto for fiddle, harp and string orchestra written by contemporary composer Sally Beamish. The festival will feature the world premiere of Seavaigers alongside the Scottish Ensemble.
One of the highlights of the fortnight will see an all-star line-up celebrate the life and music of Gerry Rafferty, who died earlier this year. A commemorative gathering of the Paisley-born singer-songwriter’s friends, family, bandmates, collaborators and admirers will feature their pick of songs from his 40-year career.
The artistes include The Proclaimers (Rafferty having co-produced their 1987 breakthrough hit Letter from America), Barbara Dickson (who sang backing vocals on City to City and Night Owl), fellow 1970s hitmaker Maria Muldaur, ex-Cream singer and bassist Jack Bruce and Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith.
Ian McCalman will create an evening of music built around the album Far Far From Ypres (songs, poems and music of World War I), while the festival will also pay tribute to the late Scottish folk singer Ray Fisher with a line-up including her siblings Archie and Cilla and Martin Carthy.
The festival will welcome Motown divas Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, famous for anthems such as Dancing in the Street, Nowhere to Run and Jimmy Mack. Their soul-infused pop has recently earned them a second consecutive nomination for Best Headliner at the UK Festival Awards.
Some of the bands who have thrilled audiences at the Shetland Folk Festival are in the Glasgow line-up, among them Brooklyn trio The Wiyos, Lau, Breabach, Shooglenifty, Canadians Le Vent du Nord, Swedish trio Väsen and US bluegrass duo Madison Violet.
For the 100th anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s birth, a new generation of folk-influenced artistes will unite to pay tribute to the man who transformed the folk ballad into a powerful tool for social protest and observation. They include his grand-daughter Sarah Lee Guthrie, Jay Farrar (formerly of Uncle Tupelo), Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket), Anders Parker and Will Johnson.
The event has, as usual, a fair sprinkling of world music including Afro-Cuban pianist and composer Omar Sosa and the “Hendrix of the Sahara” Vieux Farka Touré, son of the famous Ali Farke Toure, whose desert blues sound and guitar solos have been earning him major recognition.
The festival’s artistic director Donald Shaw said Celtic Connections was a chance for performers and audiences alike to be adventurous.
“Artistes fully embrace the opportunity to collaborate with musicians from different countries and musical genres, and I think this brings something really special to the festival. With trad and folk at the heart of the festival, this year we’re also featuring everything from world, jazz, blues and soul to political ballads and family events in the programme.”