Edinburgh International Festival preview: Pop, Jazz & Trad

At the risk of jinxing the whole carefully calibrated enterprise, the Edinburgh International Festival’s plans to present an open air socially distanced programme of events have given it the best possible chance of success in a still-volatile pandemic environment. So rock and pop fans, deprived of just about any form of in-person live entertainment for over a year, can look forward to the likes of soul star Laura Mvula, West Lothian indie sensations The Snuts, Celtic rockers Tide Lines, Scottish Album of the Year Award winners Kathryn Joseph and Anna Meredith and musical man of parts Damon Albarn in an open-sided tent near them in August.

Said tented pavilion will be located in Edinburgh Park where all the contemporary music concerts will take place to a capacity audience of 670. Meredith is no stranger to the Festival, having composed Five Telegrams for the opening event in 2018, while Festival first-timer Albarn will debut his new Iceland-inspired project The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows in person with string quartet. Orcadian composer Erland Cooper celebrates his native landscape in the company of a five-piece band.

In a far-reaching line-up, Northumbrian trailblazers Richard Dawson and The Unthanks are spotlighted, the young London jazz scene is strongly represented by drummer Moses Boyd, cosmic crossover outfit The Comet is Coming and Afrobeat ensemble Kokoroko, while experimental rock bands Black Midi and Black Country New Road also blur genre lines in thrilling, dynamic ways.

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Mvula is not the only imperious diva in town – Malian singer/guitarist Fatoumata Diawara is also booked, as well as virtuoso kora player Sona Jobarteh, indie torch singer Nadine Shah and alt.pop cheerleader Tune-Yards, who will perform an afternoon gig in the Old College Quad, site of the pavilion which will host the programme of trad artists.

Rising Scottish indie-rock outfit The Snuts will be part of the EIF's contemporary music strand this year

An In The Tradition series of concerts, co-promoted with Celtic Connections and Edinburgh’s Soundhouse organisation, features fiddler and composer Duncan Chisholm, string bands Breabach and Kinnaris Quintet, power trio Talisk and singers Karine Polwart and Siobhan Miller, and there are further collaborations between Scottish and Irish musicians including piper Brighde Chaimbeul, Hothouse Flowers frontman Liam O Maonlai, Lisa O’Neill and Lau, whose fiddler Aidan O’Rourke has teamed up with filmmaker Mark Cousins to celebrate Edinburgh’s historic Little Ireland district.

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