10 must-see shows at Celtic Connections

Julie Fowlis
Julie Fowlis
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Scotsman folk critic Jim Gilchrist picks his highlights of this year’s festival

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.

The Kinnaris Quintet

The Kinnaris Quintet

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.

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.

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.

Paul Weller

Paul Weller

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.

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”.

Karine Polwart PIC: Michael Gillen

Karine Polwart PIC: Michael Gillen

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.