Celtic Connections returns with a mix of folk, trad, world, indie, jazz, rock and more
- Henry Northmore
- 16 November 2018
Creative producer Donald Shaw talks us through some of the highlights of the UK's premier celebration of Celtic music
Not everyone goes into hibernation when the festive season ends. 'Celtic Connections is the largest winter music festival of its kind and the UK's premier celebration of Celtic music,' boasts Donald Shaw, Celtic Connection's creative producer. 'Every year the festival welcomes over 2000 artists to perform across the city. Each year, the 18 days of entertainment brightens up the dark, wet January nights with a mixture of concerts that include a host of one-off musical collaborations alongside talks, workshops, film screenings, ceilidhs, art exhibitions, free events and late-night sessions.'
The festival started in 1994 with just 66 events – now there are over 300, and through the years, Celtic Connections has expanded its remit encompassing indie, rock, jazz, country and even electronica alongside the traditional folk and world. 'Since the festival's humble beginnings, the music has undoubtedly become more adventurous, more experimental and artists have begun to think of Celtic Connections as an opportunity to create something special outwith their normal performance style,' says Shaw. 'Having musicians who are open to exploring all avenues of musical expression means that the audience stays constantly interested in what we're doing. One-off performances and collaborations have definitely become a key feature of the festival and it's brilliant that our audience continues to embrace these.'
Themes this year include 'Celtic Cousins', celebrating music from Galicia, the Basque Country, Wales and Ireland; 'Above the Surface' showcasing a new generation of multi-genre artists and a series of audio visual performances in 'Folk Images'. 2019's lineup includes Judy Collins, John Grant, Bassekou Kouyate, the Dead South and the Dandy Warhols. However, Shaw is most excited by a very special one-off performance, Grace & Danger: A Celebration of John Martyn. 'The night will celebrate the man himself as we mark the tenth anniversary of his passing,' says Shaw. 'The line-up will include John Martyn's original band – Danny Thompson, Alan Thomson, Foster Paterson, Arran Ahmun and Graeme Taylor – with special guests including Paul Weller, Lucy Rose, Eddi Reader, Ross Wilson, Rory Butler, Eric Bibb, John Smith, Katie Spencer and the Greg Lawson string section.'
Various venues, Glasgow, Thu 17 Jan–Sun 3 Feb.