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Scottish and Celtic Music Discussion
Celtic Connections 2009 - Reviews
Posts: 7970
Posted: 01-Feb-2009 10:06
This review is from the Scotsman's Gaelic column . Foot Stompin' is grateful to a reader for the translation.

Murdo MacFarlane, House Ceilidh and The Kist O’ Riches

Published: 31st January, 2009, Scotsman
By Iseabail T MacDonald – Celtic Connections

Although the Strathclyde Suite of the GRCH wasn’t tull for the Heartstring Sessions, a concert based on the music of Arty MacGlynn (guitar), Nollaig Casey (fiddle and song), her sister Mairi Ni Chathasaigh (clarsach and whistle), and Chris Newman (guitar, mandolin, bass), the audience that evening were treated to some lovely music indeed. Before they took the floor, however, we heard some songs in Welsh and English from Bethan Nia, a young Welsh girl who was amongst those who won a Danny Kyle award at Celtic Connections last year. She has a lovely voice and is extremely accomplished on the clarsach. Her voice and playing blended well together in some newly composed songs and songs based on traditional stories from her homeland.

Arty, Nollaig, Maire and Chris gave us a variety of rousing music, mostly from Ireland and Arty and Chris’ guitar played was exceptionally good. One couldn’t help but feel that they both had extra fingers. In between the musical pieces there were some humorous anecdotes from Arty, told with that special skill which the Irish have for such a thing.

We were also treated to some beautiful clarsach music from Maire, particularly in the slower tunes such as ‘Song of the Harp’. Nollaig’s playing is effortless and beautiful. She also sang; ‘A Mhairi Bhàn Òg’ which has verses in common with the Scottish Gaelic song ‘Òchoin a Rìgh gur Tìnn an Galair an Gràdh’.

Much of the music she played during the concert is available on the CD ‘Heartstring Sessions’ (OBMCD18), which is well worth buying.

All the tickets were sold-out long before the ‘Uist House Ceilidh with Gillebride MacMillan’ in St Andrews in the Square, and what a great cèilidh it was. Along with Gillebride we heard Margaret Callan and Linda MacLeod from North Uist, Catriona Garbutt from Benbecula, and Paul MacCallum and Mairi MacInnes from South Uist. Paul sang some of his songs with accompaniment on the piano accordion by John Carmichael. There was also music on the pipes and accordion by John Angus MacInnes and Alex MacDonald and it wasn’t long before some were enticed to dance a Schottische and a Strip the Willow at the side of the hall – or in the ‘kitchen’ as the aisles were called that evening.

We heard some good singing and great songs at the cèilidh, amongst them ‘Bun a Ròdha’ from Paul, ‘Na Gillean nach Mairean’ from Mairi and a nice little ditty from Catriona, ‘O B’e mo Rùn Thu’. Catriona has done much through the years to keep the songs of Uist alive by teaching them to others and it was good to see her in Glasgow.

Margaret sang some verses of the lament ‘A Dhòmhnaill Bhig a hù a hò’, and Linda sang a few songs from North Uist. She has a pleasant voice and a capacity to sing with conviction and feeling. I’m sure we will hear more from her in the years to come.

Gillebride himself was kept busy, between acting as an MC, singing a-capella and along with some of the others. A man of many parts and he had plenty of reason to be pleased with the success of the evening.

The next night there was a concert in the Strathclyde Suite, based on the songs of Murdo MacFarlane, a bard who has given us songs which are now quite popular. Dhachaigh was first performed in Stornoway in 2007.


Posts: 7970
Posted: 01-Feb-2009 10:08
Murdo MacFarlane, House Ceilidh and The Kist O’ Riches

It was with recitation and pictures, backed by music by Paul Mounsey that Murdo’s life was commemorated at the beginning of the concert. After that we heard songs from Ishbel MacAskill, Christine Primrose, Fiona MacKenzie, Brian O hEadhra and Calum Alex MacMillan. The music was arranged very well, and when the singers came together in harmony during choruses, the effect was particularly good. Some lively tune sets were also played by fiddler Alasdair White.

The night was a fine tribute to a bard who had a great love for his own homeland and his language.

On Wednesday night we had the opportunity to hear some of the precious material which the Tobar an Dualchais project is presently working on. The material comes from the collections in the archives of the School of Scottish Studies, the BBC and the Canna Collection. This concert was exceptionally interesting, in the way that archive photos, film, recitation, music and song were all linked, and the way it featured so many people from many different parts of Scotland who have left us with such a precious heritage.

The concert was performed by some of those working on Tobar an Dualchais/Kist O’Riches project, and indeed they showed that they certainly do have some excellent skills. We heard some superb singing in Gaelic from Margaret Stewart, Kirsty MacDonald and Naomi Harvey, with a story and a poem from Maggie Smith. Chris Wright, Steve Byrne and Sheena Wellington gave an excellent variety of Scots songs and there were some lively Shetland tunes from musicians Steve, Chris, Jenny Booth (fiddle), Stuart Robinson (guitar) and the magnificent piping of Iain MacDonald of Glenuig, who was the musical director for the concert.

This was an event which made us all so proud of the musical heritage which we have in Scotland, and so thankful to those who recorded them for us.

Posts: 7970
Posted: 02-Feb-2009 09:12
Genticorum/Liadan, Oran Mor - 4 stars
Reviewed for The Herald by Stuart Morrison

Mary Gauthier, Tron Theatre, Glasgow - 4 stars
Reviewed for The Herald

Transatlantic Sessions, Royal Concert Hall - 5 stars
Reviewed for The Herald by Stuart Morrison

James Yorkston (and Blue Rose Code) Classic Grand - 3 stars
Reviewed for The Herald

La Bottine Souriante/Julie Fowlis, Royal Concert Hall, - 5 stars
Reviewed for The Herald by Stuart Morrison

The Treacherous Orchestra, ABC - 3stars
Reviewed for The Herald by Keith Bruce

The Treacherous Orchestra, ABC
Reviews from Simon T & nick666 on Foot Stompin forum

Cherryholmes, St Andrew’s in the Square, 4 stars
Reviewed for The Herald by Rob Adams

Mor Karbasi, St Andrew’s in the Square - 4 stars
Reviewed for The Herald by Rob Adams

Judy Collins, City Hall - 4stars
Reviewed for The Herald by Rob Adams

Posts: 7970
Posted: 02-Feb-2009 09:49
"Over its final weekend, Celtic Connections saw voices both familiar and brand new combine to great effect"....The Scotsman

JERRY DOUGLAS BAND / CHERRYHOLMES, the Old Fruitmarket - 4 stars
GENTICORUM / LIADAN, Oran Mor - 4 stars
MILLISH /BOX CLUB/ CATRIONA WATT BAND - Strathclyde Suite - 3 stars
CHERRYHOLMES AND FIONA MACKENZIE - St Andrews in the Square - 4 stars

Read the reviews:

Posts: 247
Posted: 02-Feb-2009 09:59
The Kist O' Riches concert was indeed a real treat. What I found particularly beautiful was the little parts of old recordings that were played before the performers sang/played. It added a lot to the overall experience.
Margaret Stewart
Posts: 1154
Posted: 03-Feb-2009 00:00
Glad you enjoyed it Rena. We certainly enjoyed working on putting it all together and performing to you all on the night. We hope other festivals will take it on board in the future. It's a moveable feast; there being such a lot of material in the sound archives for us to work from. It was a treat to be able to offer sound clips, photos and even video clips of some of these wonderful tradition bearers and contributors.
Posts: 7970
Posted: 03-Feb-2009 10:03
BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year. - City Halls
Reviewed for The Herald by Rob Adams
"Fiddler is young traditional musician of year"

Grainne Duffy, Recital Rooms, City Halls
Reviewed for The Scotsman

Transatlantic Sessions, Royal Concert Hall
Reviewed for The Scotsman
"THAT'S IT. Another Celtic Connections festival comes to an end, and what better way to sign off than a good ol' knees-up with umpteen top folk musicians from both sides of the Pond?..."

nic a' phlutes
Posts: 2289
Posted: 03-Feb-2009 11:26
What a boring review of the Young Trad final.
Posts: 3248
Posted: 03-Feb-2009 14:34
It's certainly very dry although Rob possibly felt that it wasn't really his place to voice his own opinions on the contest in view of the fact that it already had been judged by others?
David Francis
Posts: 680
Posted: 03-Feb-2009 14:40
Is it a news item rather than a review? Reads like it.
blues x man
Posts: 982
Posted: 03-Feb-2009 16:17

There's a fuller, more extensive report from Rob over at the hi-arts website.
Posts: 30
Posted: 03-Feb-2009 17:22
Tobar an Dualchais/Kist O Riches - I could be biased as I was involved (in charge of the space bar on the laptop, stage left), but I thought the performances of those on stage were tremendous, especially Kirsty MacDonald who had never sung to an audience before! Unfortunately this event clashed with competing shows the same evening so not as many people were present as could be, including reviewers!

One member of the audience described the show as 'a gem'. I would certainly agree.

Blackford John
Posts: 221
Posted: 04-Feb-2009 10:21
Cherryholmes at St Andrews in the Square were brilliant. The band is a fine example of excellent musicianship, great harmonies and great stagecraft.

I'm afraid that I feel the reviewer was kind to Fiona Mackenzie. During her set she referred to words placed on the floor in front of her. Her "band" were very competent but unsure of arrangements and under-utilised in terms of their obvious talents.

I may be a bit dim but failed to link the content of her songs with the introductions that she so eloquently gave of them.


Posts: 7970
Posted: 04-Feb-2009 10:50
More Celtic Connections reviews from HI~Arts (Highlands & Islands Arts Ltd), the arts and cultural development agency for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland:

ROB ADAMS hears fiddler Ruairidh Macmillan edge out a strong field for this year’s prize

BARRY GORDON reckons Mairearad Green's adventures on her bicycle was the pick of this year's New Voices commissions

SONGS OF SCOTLAND / SHOWCASE SCOTLAND (Universal / Old Fruitmarket,)
FIONA MACKENZIE makes the most of her flying visit to Celtic Connections . (Fiona MacKenzie is the Mhàiri Mhòr Gaelic Song Fellow for Highland Council )

SUE WILSON takes in another star-studded gathering for this popular series

JENNIE MACFIE looks forward to a Treacherous future

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