Celtic Connections 2022: Festival reveals line-up as it plans to return ‘in full force’

Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival has revealed plans to return “in full force” next year as a host of headliners and highlights were announced.

Capercaillie will be performing with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at Celtic Connections next year. Picture: Gaelle Beri
Capercaillie will be performing with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at Celtic Connections next year. Picture: Gaelle Beri

Audiences will be reunited with musicians across 18 days in January and February, exactly a year after performers played in empty venues when the event was forced to go online.Billed as Europe’s largest winter music festival, Celtic Connections will feature shows spanning traditional folk, roots, Americana, jazz, soul and world music when it returns.

The festival, which was first staged in 1994, attracted around 130,000 music fans to the 2020 edition, which was staged just weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic led to the entire shutdown of cultural venues and events.

The climate crisis and threats to the natural world will be explored across several shows by musicians, including Jim Sutherland, Karine Polwart, Julie Fowlis, Seckou Keita, Kris Drever, Kerry Andrew, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter and Jim Molyneux.

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    Among the highlights of the 2022 programme are a “stripped-show” by indie-rock favourites The Twilight Sad at the Old Fruitmarket, a tribute concert honouring the musical legacy of American singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith, who passed away in August, featuring Emily Smith, James Grant, Jill Jackson, Karen Matheson and Dean Owens, and one-off gala concerts featuring all three of Scotland’s national orchestras.

    Skye-based electronica outfit Niteworks will perform with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and special guests Sian and Kathleen MacInnes, Gaelic supergroup Capercaillie will join forces with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Ravi Shankar’s daughter Anoushka will join the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in marking the 50th anniversary of the late musician’s iconic concerto for sitar and orchestra.

    Roddy Hart will host a tenth edition of his acclaimed Roaming Roots Revue, with Del Amtri singer Justin Currie, Admiral Fallow singers Louis Abbot and Sarah Hayes, This is the Kit, Rachel Sermanni, Phil Campbell, Heir of the Cursed, Field Music and Rab Noakes among next year’s confirmed guests.

    International artists booked include Ukrainian folk quartet DakhaBrakha, Mali musical duo Amadou & Mariam, West Virginia’s Sierra Ferrell, Denmark’s Nordic folk outfit Stundom, Swedish fiddler Lena Jonsson, North African blues band Bab L’Bluz, Mississippi guitarist Christone "Kingfish" Ingram and Alabama outfit St. Paul and The Broken Bones.

    The festival’s comeback will feature a number of celebrations marking notable anniversaries, including Kate Rusby and Old Blind Dogs, who will both celebrate 30 years on the road at the event.

    Quebecois folk quintet Le Vent du Nord will stage a 20th-birthday party at the Old Fruitmarket, while Inverness-based trad stars Elephant Sessions will mark their first decade with a show at the Barrowland Ballroom.

    Other festival favourites returning next year include The Chair, Mànran, Sharon Shannon, Michael McGoldrick and Talisk.

    Rura’s final weekend show will feature guest appearances from Duncan Chisholm, Julie Fowlis, Hannah Rarity, Michael McGoldrick and Ross Ainslie, while Kathryn Joseph, Blue Rose Code, Andrew Wasylyk and Syrian-American singer Bedouine will be among the Tinderbox Orchestra’s special guests.

    Glasgow's iconic Barrowland Ballroom will be deployed for Celtic Connections in 2022. Picture: Gaelle Beri

    Irish folk legend Paul Brady, along with Dirk Powell from Louisiana, Scots singer Siobhan Miller and US singer Leyla McCall, are all due to appear in the annual Transatlantic Sessions showcase.

    Organisers say the 29th festival, tickets for which will go on sale on Wednesday, will have a particular focus on emerging talent, with several showcases for the current crop of rising musical and singing talents, including the festival’s curtainraiser on 20 January.

    Hannah Rarity, Jenny Sturgeon, Paul McKenna, Innes White, Steve Byrne, The Jeremiahs and Fiona Hunter will be among the acts appearing in the festival’s opening concert, 'Neath the Gloamin' Star, which will also feature an appearance from rising Tennessean singing star Amythyst Kiah.

    A new strand of the festival, Tradovation, will feature new commissions from Fergus McCreadie, Matt Carmichael, RANT & The Ledger, Charlie Grey & Joseph Peach, Kim Carnie, Westward The Light, Hamish Napier & Adam Sutherland, Mairearad Green, Jenn Butterworth and Mike Vass.

    The Royal Concert Hall is one of the main venues used for Celtic Connections. Picture: Gaelle Beri

    New works by Jack Badcock, Esther Swift and Ross Couper will take centre stage in the festival’s annual New Voices showcases.

    The Welsh music scene will be celebrated during Showcase Scotland’s annual event for industry delegates from around the world.

    The final day of the festival will see the climax of the annual contest to find the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year.

    Donald Shaw, the festival’s creative producer, said: “There’s no doubt that this year’s festival has an added significance to it, and in the context of the last couple of years, we’re eager to capture the collective human experience that is at the heart of what’s been missing for people – the sharing of experiences, songs, music and stories.

    “What allows Celtic Connections as a festival to develop and stand out is the idea that as musicians and audiences, we can all share music, learn from one another and grow – and there is much to be learnt from the next generation.

    “Our opening concert is a statement of the festival’s commitment to present and hold up emerging acts, recognising what is being done by young musicians in Scotland and internationally to carry the torch for Scots folk song into the future.”

    Elephant Sessions will be performing a headline gig at next year's Celtic Connections festival. Picture: Louis DeCarlo

    Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland, one of the festival’s main funders, said: “It’s a delight to see Glasgow throwing open the doors to its music venues again, as Celtic Connections gets ready to rejuvenate the city with live, in-person performances.

    “Last January’s festival was a cultural lifeline that engaged audiences all over the world, reminding us that music has an uncanny power to draw us together, even in the darkest days of lockdown.

    “The 2022 event will be an emotional return, ranging from intimate solo shows to large-scale orchestral extravaganzas, underlining the undisputable fact that Celtic Connections truly has something for everyone.”

    David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life, which runs many of the festival’s main venues, said: “Celtic Connections has played a huge part in supporting and developing talent over the decades and is again putting together an incredible programme which will bring unique and compelling performances from around the world to live audiences in Glasgow, as they were meant to be seen and heard.

    “Excitement is already building for what will be a Celtic Connections to enjoy and savour come January.”

    Capercaillie will be performing with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at Celtic Connections next year. Picture: Gaelle Beri