Sharon Shannon Band and Special Guests, Celtic Connections, The Old Fruitmarket, February 3, 2017.

Sharon Shannon Band and Special Guests, Celtic Connections, The Old Fruitmarket, February 3, 2017.

Feb 10, 2017

From the start this was a gig not to be missed. Packed into the Old Fruitmarket, Sharon Shannon made sure a great night was had by all.

Her first tune, “Neckbelly” had us bouncing along as Sharon asked us to “go mental” and have loads of fun. The tunes came quick and fast with sets like, “Coridinio,” “Rathlin” and “Sandy” filling the set list.

Then there was a wonderful song by guitarist, Jack Maher called “Smile” and to follow, to rapturous applause, came the Shannon classic “Blackbird”. Then it was time for “Potholes” in a very smooth set unlike our potholed roads of today.

Sharon gave us a sneak preview of her forthcoming new album, “Sacred Earth” which is due out in March. From it she played “Rusheen,” accompanied by Justin Adam (guitar), Abass Doodoo (percussion) and Jodie Bremanson (bass). “Pull Out All The Stops” followed and these were sweet set of tunes with a rocky backdrop of bass and drums blending well with the fiddle.

“The Machine” was a beautifully powerful song before we headed to “Francies Reel,” featuring a stunning style of playing with strong tones. The show finished with “The Mouth of Tobique” topped by the wonderful mouth song of Sean Reagan and no gig would be complete without “The Galway Girl”. It was a night of enchanting music and thrilling drum beats complemented by wonderful fiddle and the stunning playing of the awesome Sharon Shannon.

Sandy Pratt

Gary Innes, Celtic Connections, Drygate, February 2, 2017.

Gary Innes, Celtic Connections, Drygate, February 2, 2017.

Feb 10, 2017

This was the night Gary Innes launched his long awaited second album, “Era” twelve years on from his first “How’s The Craic”.

It was worth the wait. Gary says “the album is about growing old and very much family orientated” and he thanked his family and friends for the support in making it.

The tune Yarra Wine Valley was first up and dedicated to the War Veteran charity. After a trip to Australia Gary wanted to do something for the Vets and the tune came out of that trip. “Road To Lochaber” was a fantastic tune with a video made with the help of STV weather man, Sean Batty with views of Lochaber made with a drone video.

The band was joined on stage by Alec Dalglish of Skerryvore for the song, “Grace and Pride “ which Gary had penned following the 2104 Independence Referendum in Scotland. He needed someone who could put a voice to the song to make it sound better so and Alec was his first choice – and it was a great song to listen to.

From his Box Club Band days, Gary has been helped along by his good friend on keyboard, Duncan Lyle and that is how “Easy Street” came about following a tour of Britanny where they came a cross a street of that name. “May Life Always Be Peachy” was a tune dedicated to family members: he wrote it as a wedding gift and this was a sweet tune that would grace any wedding as a first dance.

Gary keeps a lot of the family in his mind with this album and his niece, “Zara” even gets her own tune as he recalls looking down at the pretty innocent face and thought one to match would be ideal. Robert Robertson came on stage to sing a poem Gary had written about shinty, a sport he took part in for 20 years. “The Caman Man” summed up the sport in the way Gary had both seen and played it.

We got an insight to the quiet side of the giant of shinty, music and his love for Scotland but mostly the love of his family: “Era” the album brings you a tune for all and all seasons.

Sandy Pratt

Robyn Stapleton, Songs of Robert Burns, St Andrews in the Square, January 25, 2017.

What a great way to spend Burns Night with the silky smooth voice of Robyn Stapleton, the BBC Radio Scotland Young Trad Musician of the 2014, described by Sheena Wellington as a “very special singer indeed”.

Robyn wowed the Celtic Connections’ audience from her first song, “Coming Thru the Rye” and continued with the “Slaves Lament,” “Ca The Yowes Tae The Knowes” and the wonderful solo “John Anderson” which fair echoed round the hall.

For anyone wanting a fix of Burns this was the place to be – “A Parcel of Rogues” was as welcome as “Rattlin Roarin Willie” and even “Rantin, Rovin Robin” would have sat at the nappy on this most couthy celebration of the Bard’s songs and music.

Robyn was joined on stage by Patsy Reid, Aaron Jones, Alistair Paterson, Signy Jakobsdottir and Innes White and a wonderful string quartet who all brought the show to a close with “A Man’s A Man” and “Auld Lang Syne”.

The support act was the very talented west coast Canadian band, Brishen fronted by Quinn Bashand, a voice of excellence with his own gypsy jazz style.

I wonder what Burns would have made of the songs like “Georgia “ and his own version of “Cheyene” plus tunes from Poland and Mexico that were in the evening’s mix and on his album, Blue Verdun.

Sandy Pratt

Phil Cunningham, Celtic Connections, Highlands and Island Suite 20th Anniversary, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall January 22, 2017.

The 20th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Concert Hall of Phil Cunningham’s
Highlands & Islands Suite was performed for the first time since 1997.

Working with composer/arranger, John Ashton Thomas, a brand new ensemble composition was unveiled, inspired by their shared love for the island of Iona. This made up one half of the concert and musicians from all departments of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland helped to further develop the original orchestration.

Under conductor John Logan some 70 musicians produced a wonderful fusion of folk and classical music. A 40-strong choir, great solo vocalist and unforgettable young pipers (who nearly brought the house down) made sure it was a truly unforgettable night.

Phil, the Artistic Director of the Traditional Music Degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, should be proud of all the talented young students we heard.

Sandy Pratt

Festival Dates 2017

Festival Dates 2017

Feb 10, 2017


Some Festival Dates for you calendar 2017
While correct at time of printing please check with festival for any amendments alterations or additions 







25-Feb  08-Mar Inverness Music Festival  


11-Mar 19-Mar Glasgow St Patrick’s Festival    

17-Mar 19-Mar Neil Gow Annual Scottish  Fiddle Festival   

31-Mar 05-Apr  Edinburgh International Harp Festival   


07-Apr  09-Apr  Glenfarg Folk Feast

03-Apr  06-Apr  Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin’   

21-Apr  23-Apr  Northern Streams  

27-Apr  07-May Tradfest    

27-Apr  30-Apr  Shetland Folk Festival  

27-Apr  30-Apr  Girvan Traditional Folk Festival   



05-May 07-May Moniaive Folk Festival   

12-May 14-May Fife Traditional Singing Weekend:

25-May 27-May Isle of Skye Accordion and Fiddle Festival

19-May 23-May Strichen Festival

25-May 28-May Knockengorroch World Ceilidh

25-May 28-May Orkney Folk Festival   

26-May 04-Jun   Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival   


02-Jun   04-Jun   Skye Storytelling Festival & GlendaleGathering

02-Jun   04-Jun   Arran Folk Festival

02-Jun   04-Jun   Portsoy Music Festival

02-Jun   25-Jun   Glasgow West End Festival

15-Jun   18-Jun   Culross Festival 

08-Jun   11-Jun   Eden Festival 

09-Jun   11-Jun   Keith Festival TMSA

09-Jun   11-Jun   Loanhead Music Festival 

19-Jun   29-Jun   Crail Festival    

16-Jun   18-Jun   Killin Music Festival 

23-Jun   25-Jun   Solas Festival 

23-Jun   25-Jun   Falkland Traditional Music Festival    

24-Jun   25-Jun   Scottish Traditional Boat Festival   

28-Jun   02-Jul    East  Neuk  Festival   


30-Jun   02-Jul    Newcastleton Traditional Music Festival    

02-Jul    07-Jul    Ceolas Music Summer School 

04-Jul    25-Aug  Feis an Eilein 

06-Jul    09-Jul    Stonehaven Folk Festival

07-Jul    09-Jul    Furness Tradition    

19-Jul    22-Jul    Hebridean Celtic Festival

14-Jul    16-Jul    Lossiemouth Folk Festival

14-Jul    16-Jul    Rothbury Traditional Music Festival     

28-Jul    05-Aug  Aberdeen International Youth Festival  

21-Jul    23-Jul    Cullerlie Traditional Singing Weekend 

28-Jul    30-Jul    Ugie Folk Festival   

21-Jul    22-Jul    Wickerman Festival  

27-Jul    30-Jul    Southern Fried Festival 

28-Jul    30-Jul    Speyfest 

30-Jul    06-Aug  Shetland Fiddlee Fenzi


03-Aug  05-Aug  Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival 

07-Aug  13-Aug  Piping Live    

23-Aug  27-Aug  Marymass Folk Festival

17-Aug  20-Aug  Milwaukke Irish Fest     

16-Aug  20-Aug  Mull of Kintyre Music Festival     

18-Aug  20-Aug  Innerleithen Music Festival

24-Aug  27-Aug  Tonder Folk Festival   



01-Sep  09-Sep  Blas Festival

01-Sep  03-Sep  Kirriemuir Festival

01-Sep  03-Sep  Portpatrick Folk Festival   

06-Sep  10-Sep  Linlithgow Folk Festival  

11-Sep  17-Sep  Ceol Cholsa    

15-Sep  17-Sep  Douglasdale Folk Festival

22-Sep  24-Sep  Dunbar Traditional Music Festival (The Belhaven Best)   

22-Sep  24-Sep  Isle of Jura Music Festival  

22-Sep  24-Sep  Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival  


02-Oct   04-Oct   Selkirk Sessions    

07-Oct   09-Oct   Ullapool Guitar Festival 

04-Oct   08-Oct   Glasgow Americana  

05-Oct   09-Oct   Shetland Fiddle & Accordion Festival

06-Oct   14-Oct   Celtic Colours 

21-Oct   30-Oct   Scottish International Storytelling Festival 


Should your festival wish to be included in the above diary please email Liz Clark at

See you at the festivals !

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