Celtic Connections review: Roaming Roots Revue, Glasgow

Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fire
Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fire
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Back by popular demand after the success of last year’s event, Celtic Connections once again channels the music of Laurel Canyon in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s improbable, as our host Roddy Hart readily acknowledges, but on a dreich night in Glasgow, they conjure the sunshiny sounds of LA and the ghosts of its troubled troubadors.

Roaming Roots Revue

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Sometimes the resemblances are uncanny. Folk duo Zervas and Pepper, with their long hair and close harmonies, might have come straight from Laurel Canyon, not (as they do) from Cardiff. And when Kathryn Pepper sings Woodstock, we are briefly visited by the ghost of Joni Mitchell. Young Scottish singer-songwriter Siobhan Wilson channels Mitchell too, not in a physical resemblance but in the way she sings A Case of You.

Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble and Rod Jones bring us Neil Young’s Out on the Weekend. Frank Reader and John Douglas of the Trash-Can Sinatras are surprise guests with a haunting, pared-back take on Judee Still’s The Kiss. California-based folk-rockers Dawes are the farthest-travelled guests, and are rewarded by getting to do three of their own songs.

There’s a good balance of original music in the programme, but at the heart of Roaming Roots Revue is the enjoyment of the covers, such as Hotel California, fronted by Wisconsin’s Cory Chisel, its lengthy guitar solos virtually intact, and the entire line-up on stage at the end for California Dreaming, a love-fest for Laurel Canyon at its feel-good best.