Back in August I wrote a blog (read here) about a couple of gigs I done with The Routes Quartet at AIYF. One of these gigs involved a collaboration with Ceòl Mòr, a music group which ran every year at the festival. Unfortunately this project will be no more and so Dave Francis, it's coordinator arranged for a Ceòl Mòr gig at Celtic Connections 2016. The concert took place in the afternoon of the final Saturday of the festival.
Playing at this were some of the most recent Ceòl Mòr participants along with some alumni of the course, and Routes for the final three numbers. We really enjoyed playing with the group one last time, and it was lovely to catch up with everyone again!
Celtic Connections is in full swing and I am still reeling after a very special, fantastic night on Saturday (Jan 16th) at the Islay Night concert, which took place in the Strathclycle Suite of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. It consisted of a plethora of talented musicians local to Islay and also, "The Islay Sessioners" playing the compositions of Fraser Shaw. Back in November I wrote a blog on the Islay Sessions, where I spoke about a group of us (the Sessioners) playing Fraser's tunes at the festival concert. This was the very start of a project in which the aim is to release a book of all of Fraser's tunes, along with an album of his music. In preparation for the Celtic Connections concert, we built on this material. Islay Night was to be the official launch of The Fraser Shaw Trust, which aims to raise money for MS charities through a range of projects celebrating Fraser and his music, including festivals, concerts, and of course, this tune book project.
Lastly were the Rowan Brothers, a very talented and lively young accordion and piano duo. In between each act, Iain chatted to the crowd, telling some lovely stories about Islay.
The Islay Sessioners performed for the second half of the concert. This big band consisted of Angus MacKenzie & Calum MacCrimmon on pipes & whistles, Kevin O'Neill (flute), on fiddles were myself, Adam Sutherland, Lori & Innes Watson, Laura-Beth (LB) Salter (mandolin), John Somerville (accordion), Tina Jordan Rees (piano), Jenn Butterworth & Ross Martin on guitars and finally Duncan Lyall on bass. On vocals were Lori, LB, Jenn, Innes, with backing vocals from Duncan and Calum.
Another set I really enjoyed playing was Strings & Blowy Things by Fraser, along with Turas Friseal a Glaschu, co-written by Calum & LB. Both tunes were combined into a lovely string arrangement by Duncan, and then to finish of the set a very popular tune called £50 Cashback was played. This is a jig co-written by Fraser, John & Kevin and is an old favourite within the Scottish folk scene.
There were also two more sets that were heard at the Islay Sessions; Murmuration & Aurora - a spectacular piece of music, and two really lively reels, Slumberland's & K's. The reels were a great finish to the concert! The Islay Gaelic Choir then got on stage for an encore, with the old Gaelic song Sine Bhan. They sang it beautifully and all the musicians joined in for the chorus. As the song ended we all started playing an old favourite written by Fraser called The C-Side. A number of the musicians from the first half of the concert joined in with us and it was a fantastic end to the night!
Afterwards there were some drinks at the Strathclyde Suite bar to toast the launch of the project. It was great to catch up with everyone! We then went on to the festival club where the Islay Sessioners played a spot to a very lively crowd. They thoroughly enjoyed Fraser's music and even sang along!
It was an absolutely brilliant night and a great celebration of Fraser's music and spirit. He would have been chuffed to hear so many of his tunes played on stage.
Massive thanks to Lesley and the Celtic Connections crew for making Islay Night possible, and to the very generous sponsors, Bruichladdich and Calmac Ferries.
Keep up to date with the latest news regarding the trust and it's projects here.
I had a great time performing with Ryan Murphy and Adam Brown last weekend at the Ceòl 's Craic
concert, which ran as part of Celtic Connections. The night started off with a group of young Gaelic singers, under the instruction of the lovely Maeve MacKinnon. We were on next and played a half hour set of Irish jigs and reels. A few of the sets were newly arranged and we were delighted when they went down well! We finished off our spot with The Windmill Set, an old favourite of ours which we recorded last year (listen here).