Glasgow Letter – 20.1.22

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I think it was former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, who coined the phrase ‘a week is a long time in politics’.

That may well be true but these days a week is also a long time in the music business. So much so that half the Celtic Connections gigs I said were cancelled last week have since been un-cancelled.

Rumours that the festival managed this by changing the status of the shows to “work events” rather than “parties” are unconfirmed!

It is a fantastic boost for so many artists and fans alike. I won’t attempt to cover the full list of shows that are and aren’t happening, but ticket holders will have been informed as to the status of their own concert and I would recommend anyone else head to the Celtic Connections website, which clarifies which shows are going ahead and which have sadly fallen by the wayside.

The opening night (entitled ‘Neath the Gloamin’ Star) will take place on Thursday January 20 as usual in the iconic Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. The audience may be restricted in number but the quality of artists on the stage is in abundance: Fiona Hunter, Steve Byrne, Paul McKenna, Ellie Beaton, Cameron Nixon and Jenny Sturgeon, plus joint musical directors Hannah Rarity and Innes White.

As you can perhaps tell by these names, it is a celebration of the Scots folk song revival. All the singers are also Scots song writers who are following in the tradition of the late Tony Cuffe whose song is the title of the concert.
Even with a myriad of cancellations, there are still too many shows for me to preview in one column.

This coming weekend, though, among other things, is a tale of two album launches – one of which is going ahead at a rearranged date and one which has been postponed.
Megan Henderson’s launch of Pilgrim Souls will take place on Friday January 21 alongside The Jeremiahs and The Canny Band in the Royal Concert Hall. Meanwhile, Niteworks’ launch of A’ Ghrian (due to go ahead this weekend) has been postponed until Wednesday June 22.

At the time of writing, Megan’s album is days from release but Niteworks’ third album came out last Friday to great acclaim. It features a lovely blend of pipe tunes with their trademark electronica as well as beautiful Gaelic and Scots songs from a whole host of fantastic guest vocalists including Ellen MacDonald, Hannah Rarity, Beth Malcolm, Alasdair Whyte, Sian, and Kathleen MacInnes.

Buried somewhere in the mix of Alasdair’s rendition of Thèid Mi Lem Dheòin is my own voice along with a squad who joined the band in a Glasgow studio one night to contribute some vocables.

It is always a great laugh with the Niteworks lads but they obviously manage to get some serious work done when we’re not looking because this is a first class album.

Their Celtic Connections show, when it eventually comes round in June, will definitely award the patience of all who awaited it so eagerly.