For the uninitiated, Celtic Connections is one of the most exciting intermixes of Celtic Music in the world, certainly the main celebration of this sort in the UK. For a whole two and a half weeks, over two thousand musicians come to Glasgow to play and share Folk, Roots, World and Traditional music. As the name suggests, the aim of the festival is to celebrate the significant historical and cultural impact of Celtic music, as this month musicians will come to Glasgow from all over the world. You won’t be able to move in the city over the next few weeks for stumbling into an underground gig, massive concert or spontaneous pub session at what-time-do-you-call-this in the morning, with some amazing artists famed as the best musicians in the world at their craft.
Because of the sheer volume of events, it can be very difficult to decide what to go to, especially with massive headline concerts such as Bothy Culture and Beyond at the Hydro on celebrating the work of Martyn Bennet, Skerryvore at the Barrowland Ballroom or Julie Fowlis at City Halls. At such big venues and in high demand it may be better to allow yourself to explore further. If you’re low on funds, there are quite a few free gigs that would be great to go to – there are late night sessions at the Drygate Brewery most nights from 11pm, where you’ll have the unique experience of the collaborative improvisation so important to Celtic music through which you can have the amazing opportunity to listen to some of these world-class musicians without the concert fee; this joining together and socialising through music just so happens to be a real favourite of mine.
To truly experience Celtic Connections, though, you need to ultimately let yourself go to the things you wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards, be it things that sound interesting or venues you have yet to visit. You can find all of the events – listed by artist, genre, venue and date respectively – at celticconnections.com; I can assure you that anything you spontaneously stumble onto will be worth the time.
Personally, I would suggest checking out The Elephant Sessions at the Old Fruitmarket on the 2nd and the 3rd, The Royal Conservatoire Concert on the 20th, Feis Ross’ Ceilidh trail at the Concert Hall on the 27th, Findlay Napier’s Glasgow at The Mackintosh Church on the 20th, the Celtic Connections on Campus event (featuring student performers at Glasgow Caley’s student union) on the 26th, and the two nights of album play-throughs at the Oran Mòr on the 22nd and 23rd celebrating the music of John Martyn and Joni Mitchell.
If you’re a music lover, this is an event you need to participate in, both to support music as a thriving and exciting industry and to support the city that allows it to thrive in the first place. The Celtic spirit of collaboration applies – all are welcome here.
[Imogen Hay – @ImogenIslay]