10 must-see shows at Celtic Connections

Scotsman folk critic Jim Gilchrist picks his highlights of this year's festival

Julie Fowlis

1. Syne of the Times, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 17 January: The festival’s opening concert sees creative producer Donald Shaw revisit his Harvest project, with established names joining emerging young talent from Scotland and Galicia.

2. Kathleen MacInnes & amiina, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 19 January: Smoky-voiced Gaelic singer MacInnes is accompanied by Iceland’s amiina, formerly associated with Nordic rockers Sigur Rós.

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3. Jenna Reid & Harris Playfair with Mr McFall’s Chamber, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 20 January: Highly engaging duo of Shetland fiddler Reid and pianist Playfair joined by the left-field McFall’s Chamber.

The Kinnaris Quintet

4. Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, Mackintosh Church, 24 January: Inspired duo of Welsh harpist and Malian kora player, performing in Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s beautiful Queen’s Cross Church.

5. Julie Fowlis & Duncan Chisholm: An Treas Suaile, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 24 January: Fowlis and Chisholm’s multi-media commemoration of the Iolaire tragedy, when 201 servicemen drowned yards away from their native Lewis on New Year’s Day 1919.

6. Shooglenifty/Kinnaris Quintet, Barrowland, 25 January: Glorious mayhem as “acid croft” pioneers Shooglenifty share the bill with the powerful new string quintet.

7. Grace & Danger: A Celebration of John Martyn, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 27 January: Intriguingly assorted cast including Paul Weller, Eddie Reader and Eric Bibb combine to celebrate the unique talent of the late John Martyn.

Paul Weller

8. Karine Polwart & Kris Drever with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, King’s Theatre, 27 January: Two premier singer-songwriters join the SCO in this historic theatre to perform songs old and new, arranged by Pippa Murphy and Kate St John.

9. Rhiannon Giddens: Celtic Blues with Scottish Opera Orchestra, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 28 January: Rhiannon Giddens is a singer of compelling authority, ranging from Afro-American heritage to Celtic roots, here accompanied by the “Celtic Blues Orchestra”.

10. Loudon Wainwright III, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 30 January: The witty and excoriatingly candid chronicler of domestic strife and personal chaos returns to Celtic Connections, supported by the great Irish singer Karan Casey.

Karine Polwart PIC: Michael Gillen