Top 10 picks of Celtic Connections 2016


First published in the Guardian on 14 January, 2016

Sam Lee & friends. Collector, tradition-bearer, troubadour, the most interesting young voice in English folk. Old songs learned from Traveller communities done in glitchy, ambient new arrangements. Tron Theatre, 15 January http://www.celticconnections.com/events/Pages/event.aspx?ev=d09fa25b-4d6e-414c-a94f-a5310144cb22

James Robertson’s Pilgrimer. A poetic Scots reimagining of the classic Joni Mitchell road album Hejira, performed by Scottish folk singers including Karine Polwart, Annie Grace, Rod Paterson and Julie Fowlis. Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 16 January 
http://www.celticconnections.com/events/Pages/event.aspx?ev=c01010e9-da66-45d0-8d0c-a5310144cc99

Chris Wood. Hard-hitting, tender and politically astute English song in the proud footsteps of Martin Carthy and Nic Jones. Wood’s sixth solo album is out later this year and we’ll get to hear the new material here.
Glasgow Art Club, 16 January http://www.celticconnections.com/events/Pages/event.aspx?ev=ba597946-d674-45a4-80f4-a53301424d5b

This Is The Kit. The moniker of Kate Stables, a Parisian-based Bristolian who sings poised, soulful indie-folk in a voice that’s understated, dusk-lit and stylish. Her band includes The National’s Aaron Dessner and the excellent Rozi Plain and her latest album, Bashed Out, is full of drowsy beauty.  
Drygate Brewery, 16 January http://www.celticconnections.com/events/Pages/event.aspx?ev=57f15863-611f-488f-bd44-a5310144ccdb

Baaba Maal. Impossible to resist the golden voice and superstar showmanship Senegal’s musical giant. Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 22 January http://www.celticconnections.com/events/Pages/event.aspx?ev=87d6dffe-5f90-4637-8bd4-a4e600e88e9a

John Grant. Scorching and noble, bruising and sweet, erudite and synth poppy… John Grant will find some part of your innards to tug at.
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 26 January http://www.celticconnections.com/events/Pages/event.aspx?ev=339aeb2c-22bb-42f0-a6af-a51e01197c66

Lau. The UK’s mightiest folk trio. Deep-thinking, always inventive and a marvel of a live act. They team up with the Elysian Quartet to revisit the expansive terrains of their latest album, The Bell That Never Rang. 
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 28 January http://www.celticconnections.com/events/Pages/event.aspx?ev=98ddf2c8-c09f-414b-a04d-a5310144daf0

Lynched. Traditional Irish balladry delivered with do-or-die grit. The singing is coarse and lovely; the guitars, pipes, fiddle and harmonium are raucous.  
Tron Theatre, 30 January http://www.celticconnections.com/events/Pages/event.aspx?ev=fe93be54-57e1-4e0e-8ece-a5310144e169

They Might Be Giants (family show). Say what you like about the daftness of their grown-up pop, but this Brooklyn band is great with the kids. Volume down, lyrics clean, catchy tunes and treat the audience like, well, a real audience.   
O2 ABC, 31 January http://www.celticconnections.com/events/Pages/event.aspx?ev=ce9858a3-c656-429e-bcdf-a51001229b01

Bert Inspired: A Concert for Bert Jansch. Five years after the death of the groundbreaking, gentle, shy, troubled and immensely influential Scottish singer/guitarist, fans including Robert Plant, Bernard Butler and Ben Watt pay tribute.   
Old Fruitmarket, 31 January; Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 1 February http://www.celticconnections.com/events/Pages/event.aspx?ev=4ca6e18b-ae97-4194-90c7-a5360147fb6f