Highlights include The Lone Bellow, Juan de Marcos, Jupiter & Okwess, Alela Diane and Oumou Sangaré
2018 marks the 25th anniversary of folk and traditional music festival Celtic Connections, with over 2000 musicians expected to descend upon Glasgow from all corners of the the globe. To celebrate the festival's diverse programming and its attention to the inclusion of varying cultures and genres, we've rounded up some of the international acts we're most looking forward to seeing around the city in the next few weeks.
The Lone Bellow with Deer Tick
New York trio The Lone Bellow released their self-titled debut back in 2013, introducing the world to their amalgamation of folk, blues and gospel. They've since developed their sound, entering the big leagues as far as Americana goes with the release of their third album Walk Into A Storm, which came out in 2017 to positive reviews. They're supported by Rhode Island's Deer Tick, who recently released their first material in four years via dual album Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2. O2 ABC, Sat 20 Jan, £17
Jupiter & Okwess and Les Triaboliques
Congolese artist Jupiter Bokondji and his band Okwess are known for their mix of Afropop, traditional Congolese rhythms, funk, and rock music, as well as their awareness of socio-political issues and the discussion of their homeland's difficult colonial past. British trio Les Triaboliques join Jupiter & Okwess with their blues-soaked guitars, saz, cümbüş and mandolin. Drygate Brewery, Sat 20 Jan, £16
Juan de Marcos Afro-Cuban All Stars
Cuban bandleader and musician Juan de Marco is perhaps best known for co-founding Sierra Maestra, the 1976 Cuban band whose mission it was to keep the tradition of folk music alive in the country. As a key member of the Buena Vista Social Club, he was behind Sierra Maestra's expansion into the Afro-Cuban All Stars, which today includes a multi-generational range of musicians, drawing on different styles of Cuban music, from bolero to rumba. Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Mon 22 Jan, £23–26
Lee Fields & The Expressions and Lights Out By Nine
Legendary US soul singer Lee Fields has been in the game since 1969, having toured with the likes of Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal. With a career spanning almost 50 years, Fields is a seasoned performer, backed by the similarly experienced soul veterans that make up his backing band, The Expressions. Scottish soul and R&B band Lights Out By Nine are also on the bill. Oran Mor, Tue 23 Jan, £16.50
North Carolina Americana/folk duo Mandolin Orange features the talents of songwriter Andrew Marlin (vocals, mandolin, guitar, banjo) and Emily Frantz (vocals, violin, guitar), who united at a jam session back in 2009. They've released five albums together, with their most recent record Blindfaller marking a turning point in their sound, as they broach broader themes in their interaction with the past along with relevant stories of today. The Mackintosh Church, Wed 24 Jan, £15
Sierra Hull with Jarlath Henderson
Having been signed at the age of 13, Sierra Hull released her debut vocal album Secrets when she was just 16. The Tennessee mandolinist has since brought out two more albums, the last of which was produced by Béla Fleck, also featuring contributions from Alison Krauss, Rhiannon Giddens and Abigail Washburn. Tyrone-born multi-instrumentalist and singer Jarlath Henderson is on support. Mitchell Theatre, Fri 26 Jan, £15
Alela Diane and Mick Flannery
When Portland singer-songwriter Alela Diane formally re-released her debut album The Pirate's Gospel back in 2006, critics praised her strong and assured vocals, which have since won her comparisons to Joni Mitchell, Gillian Welsh and Sharon Van Etten. Her fifth solo album, Cusp, is due in February, with the video for album track 'Émigré' unveiled in December. She is joined by Irish singer-songwriter Mick Flannery. The Mackintosh Church, Sun 27 Jan, £16
Oumou Sangaré and Solo & Indrė
After taking a long break from recording, Grammy Award-winning Malian Wassoulou musician Oumou Sangaré returned in 2017 with Mogoya, an impressive album backed by the production of French trio A.l.b.e.r.t. and percussion of drummer Tony Allen. The album takes the singer in a new direction, with interesting influences that are coupled with her traditional roots and feminist themes. Senegalese kora player Solo Cossokho and Lithuanian kanklės player Indrė Jurgelevičiūtė are on support duties, showcasing a fusion of their native folk melodies. Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Tue 30 Jan, £20–23.
Courtney Marie Andrews with Adam Holmes & the Embers
Arizona musician Courtney Marie Andrews has already built up quite the career as a backing singer and guitarist, having performed with Damien Jurado, Belgian star Milow and Jimmy Eat World. Her breakthrough album Honest Life was written on the road, charting the singer's youth as well as her maturity, with tales of heartbreak, regret and longing. She performs alongside Edinburgh's Adam Holmes, whose expansive and contemplative third album Midnight Milk came out in September. O2 ABC, Wed 31 Jan, £18
TootArd with Trio Tekke & Dave De Rose
Described as a 'mountain rock reggae' band, TootArd features singer-songwriter brothers Hasan and Rami Nakhleh, whose home is in the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Together, they make desert blues with a mix of psychedelia and Middle Eastern sounds, creating something that is uplifting and funk-infused, with a political edge. Formed in London, Trio Tekke features two Cypriots (Antonis Antoniou and Lefteris Moumtzis) and an Anglo-Chilean (Colin Somervell), who perform their own take on Greek Rebetiko alongside ex-Moloko drummer Dave De Rose. Drygate Brewery, Sat 3 Feb, £14
Celtic Connections, Various venues, Glasgow, Thu 18 Jan–Sun 4 Feb
Glasgow’s annual folk, roots, indie, world and traditional music festival celebrating the links between Celtic music and cultures across the globe. An international cast of over 2000 artists descend upon Glasgow, to create over 300 events. These include ceilidhs, workshops, talks, dancing, art exhibitions and free events.