Review : Kathryn Roberts; Sean Lakeman plus Bronwynne Brent @ Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Saturday 31 January 2015

Review : Kathryn Roberts; Sean Lakeman plus Bronwynne Brent @ Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Saturday 31 January 2015

Feb 4, 2015

I have to admit that I had never heard anything before from Kathryn and Sean, and it was curiousity to see them that I went as I have watched the other two Lakeman brothers at Celtic Connections in previous years. I am so very glad that I did……this is a duo who work together so well and seem to invite you into their lives with ease.

They had not played in Glasgow for 10 years, which must have been a great shame for their fans here, however that would all have been forgotten as soon as Kathryn started to sing!

They opened with a track called ‘Child Owlet’ from their new CD out at the end of February 2015.  Kathryn explained that their seven year old twin daughters wanted to make the video for this and it’s so good that you really have to watch it!

Other songs from the album were ‘Tomorrow Will Follow Today’, 52 Hertz Whale (about a forlorn whale in search of love!), The Robber Bridegroom, The Banishing Book and two songs written for thier daughters – ‘A Song To Live By’ which Kathryn wrote to help them understand that not everything goes right at school however they will always be loved at home, and Rusalka, written to prove that not all water nymphs are like Disney’s Ariel!

They also covered some traditional folk songs like The Red Barn, Lusty Smith and Joe Peel, which Kathryn has been singing since a young girl. Through the set, Sean accompanied her on guitar and although he doesn’t sing, is still an integral part of the duo.

What is very clear is that Kathryn loves story-telling through song and has such a great strong yet soft voice.  This was highlighted when she sang ‘The Huldra’ – acapello – sending a tingle up your spine. They finished with ‘The Wisdom Of Standing Still’  – very apt for today’s rushed society and giving an insight into their lives in Devon where life goes on at a more sedate pace.

It may have been one of the last concerts at Celtic Connections 2015, but was well worth the wait and was in my opinion, the best one this year for me and I look forward to seeing them again soon.

bronwynneThe evening opened with Bronwynne Brent, a singer-songwriter from Mississippi, whose voice belies her age. It is very emotive and doleful as she sings about broken hearts, loss and betrayal. She opened with ‘Don’t Tell Your Secrets To The Wind’ from her second album Stardust, accompanied on stage by Euan Burton on double bass and Jamie Sturt on guitar / vocals.

She has a voice which you think reminds you of another singer,  however you just can’t put a finger on that person! ‘Wrecked My Mind’ and ‘Devil Again’ were another couple which she sang from her album. By her own admission, she is very shy and as such doesn’t have much stage presence. The upshot of that being that she sang more songs!  A lovely start to the concert.

Ruth Roy

Presenter, Celtic Music Radio 95FM

Review : Helene Blum and Harald Haugaard plus Barluath @ Òran Mór on Friday 30 January 2015

Review : Helene Blum and Harald Haugaard plus Barluath @ Òran Mór on Friday 30 January 2015

Feb 2, 2015

I first came across this couple whilst researching songs for our themed show on a Sunday on Celtic Music Radio when looking for male/female related duos. So when I heard they were playing at Celtic Connections, I jumped at the chance of seeing them live.

Their act varies from a duo to sextet and on this evening there were five of them on stage including also Kirstine Elise on cello, Mikkel Grue on guitar and Sune Rahbek on percussion. The set was a mixture of new material from their latest album along with traditional Danish songs interpreted so well by Helene. Her strenght is in the story telling of the Danish folklore through song as in the song about a giant asking nine questions to a traveller, which although all sung in Danish, Helene explained the background before each rendition.

In between the songs we had Harald delighting the audience with his virtuoso fiddle playing, taking old and new tunes, and giving them that sparkle which he does so well. My favourite piece that evening was a duet which Helene has recorded with English folk singer Martin Simpson called ‘When We Have Said Goodbye’ although as he wasn’t there, she sung this solo, however as it is written in dual languages, it was easy to imagine Martin singing his part with her.

barluathFirst act on Friday night was Barluath – previous Danny Kyle Open Stage winners in 2012. Fronted on vocals by Ainsley Hamill, it was soon clear why she is a silver pendant winner at the Mod in 2013, as her interpretation of the gaelic songs is a joy to hear. These included ‘The Scarborough Settler’s Lament’, ‘The Sweet Sorrow’ ( a waulking song from the islands) and ‘Solus M’Aigh’ (Light Of Hope), a Blair Douglas composition written for Father Colin MacInnes when he embarked on a journey from South Uist to Equador.

Interspersed with the songs were various jigs and reels including ‘The Big Chief’ written by Eilidh Firth from the group, some Cape Breton tunes, ‘Rose Cottage’ by Donald Shaw and the finale set called ‘My Home Town’.  A new album is imminent from the group and  I look forward to hearing it very soon.

Ruth Roy

Presenter, Celtic Music Radio 95FM

Review : Jamie Smith’s Mabon & Moxie @ Òran Mór, Saturday 24 January 2015

Review : Jamie Smith’s Mabon & Moxie @ Òran Mór, Saturday 24 January 2015

Feb 1, 2015

Question – take a five piece band from Wales with one of their members unable to be there and what do we get on stage?…six guys of course!

The band did state before the concert that there would be a couple of surprises and we weren’t disappointed. Adam Rhodes was the missing member, however instead we were treated to Ewan MacPherson (Shooglenifty) on guitar and Tom Callister (Barrule) on banjo and fiddle.  They are a great example of original interceltic music and fronted by Jamie Smith on accordion and Oliver Wilson-Dickson on fiddle as well as the impeccably dressed (as always!) Iolo Whelan on drums and percussion and Matt (the man with the hat) Downer on basses.

They opened with Huzzah! – a great track to get the crowd going , although getting them to actually dance proved a no-go even though it was a standing gig.  Some of the other pieces played ranged from reels to slower pieces sung in Welsh by Jamie which included Whiskey Pump Reels, Galician Stylee, Lady Of The Woods and Caru Pum Merch (translated as loving five girls!).  This is a beautiful haunting song which really did require some quiet from the audience that wasn’t always given unfortunately.

The joys of seeing acts live is that they often give the stories behind some of their work and this was the case of the Gordano Ranter.  This song was written after the guys experience of stopping at the aforementioned service station on the M5 late one evening, and having the misfortune to be served by a young man who, they reckoned hadn’t had customers for some considerable time and decided to vent all his anguishes to the band. It certainly had the crowd laughing as we have had such an experience at some time when least expecting it!

It was a great night’s entertainment and the group have a new album coming out soon which I look forward to hearing so watch this space!


moxieThe first group on support this evening were five young Irish lads who collective are known as Moxie.

Here again we have five musicians who went away to the west coast of Ireland together for two weeks, to look at their  music in respect of the constant changing Atlantic coastline and sky. There seem to be more and more groups today, locking themselves away for a week or two for intense music sessions and in general it seems to work as it has for this band. Their other selling point, is that they are fronted by two banjo players – Ted Kelly and Cillian Doheny who compliment each other very well with accordion player (and poet) Darren Roche between them, along with Jos Kelly on keyboard and Paddy Hazleton on percussion.

Playing tracks from their recently relased debut album ‘Planted’, they have a diverse range of music and on one piece in particular where Jos was allowed his solo, it was reminiscient of Rick Wakeman from Yes or Keith Emerson from Emerson, Lake & Palmer in their heydays!

We were also entertained by the rendition of a poem penned by Darren on a bus journey from Limerick to Dublin – adding a different dimension to the gig.  As for Darren’s accordion playing , I never realised one could stretch so far as he makes full usuage of his instrument at all times.

Onwards and upwards guys!

Ruth Roy

Presenter, Celtic Music Radio 95FM

Review: Malinky & The Jenna Reid Band, Mitchell Theatre, Friday 23 January 2015

Review: Malinky & The Jenna Reid Band, Mitchell Theatre, Friday 23 January 2015

Jan 28, 2015

This was a night when two great bands were launching their new albums and the audience were not to be disappointed.  Malinky are now onto their 5th album (produced by Donald Shaw) which has been some time in the making as their last one was launched in 2008.  It also heralds 10 years that Fiona Hunter has been with the group.  The others being Steve Byrne, Mike Vass and Mark Dunlop.

With a variety of instrumentation, they played and sang a selection from the new album plus a couple from their previous one interspersed with Mark’s jokes, which were so bad you just had to laugh!

The group’s strength seems to lie with the lovely blend of vocals from the Scottish east and west coasts plus the Irish lilt  from Mark Dunlop.  It was also great to see Mike Vass back on stage after his illness which postponed this album from 2013.

jennaPrior to Malinky being on stage , we were treated to Jenna Reid and her band. She opened the set with her sister Bethany on piano describing how the sisters had recorded their album in the summer in Shetland, and the long daylight hours which they had, making many of the audience sigh at the thought especially on a cold dark dismal night in Glasgow!

Her latest album is called Live In Shetland and next on stage to join her was Kevin MacKenzie on guitar and then followed by Harris Playfair on piano.

The sets of reels and jigs mostly from Shetland by the duos was well received by the audience, and Jenna herself seems to excel when playing as a twosome.

Finally they all came back together on stage to say they were the support for Malinky would be a vast understatement.

Ruth Roy

Presenter @ celticmusicradio

Review: Carlos Nunez and Rura @ GRCH on Wednesday 21 January 2015

Review: Carlos Nunez and Rura @ GRCH on Wednesday 21 January 2015

Jan 27, 2015

My first experience of Carlos was two years ago – also at Celtic Connections – when I saw him in two completely different concerts highlighting his versatility as a piper.  This concert only cemented this fact as he introduced us to the idea of connections between the celtic nations and South America, hence the title of the concert – The Atlantic Corridor.

In association with the gaelic college Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye, plus funding form other sources, he set about tracing the links between Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Spain, which historically was a main sea trading route, across the Atlantic to Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Patagonia.

To aid this journey he was joined on stage throughout the concert by musicians from these countries including our own Mischa MacPherson & Innes White, Donald Shaw & Karen Matheson, a trio from Wales and two musicians from Argentina.  Piper Angus MacDonald played The Battle of Glenshiel pibroch starting from the back of the hall, walking slowly down onto the stage and then back up again.

At the beginning of the concert, there was a lot of talking to give us the history behind the project, which I appreciated afterwards although it was becoming a bit tedious then. However once the music began to flow we had a torrent of it, culminating in the usual ‘Nunez Congo’ with the audience joining hands and dancing around the concert hall with all of the participating musicians on stage too including the first act, Rura (pictured).

ruraThis group came to prominence in 2011 as winners of the Danny Kyle Open Stage and prove what can be done from this platform when given an opportunity. They’re are five of them – Steven Blake, Jack Smedley, Adam Brown and David Foley along with singer-songwriter Adam Holmes all plying a variety of instruments from guitar, bodhran, fiddle and various pipes.

They opened with a tune called Dark Reel, taken from their upcoming second album Despite The Dark due for release in April this year accompanied by a tour which I would strongly advise you go and see if you get the chance.  Adam Holmes joined them for a tribute to Burns and then we were entertained  by various jigs and reels by the band.


Ruth Roy

Presenter @ celticmusicradio

Review: The Elizabethan Session, The Mitchell Theatre, Sunday 18 January 2015

The recipe for an evening’s entertainment of Elizabethan themed songs and tunes, is to take eight very accomplished folk artists and put them in a house for five days with a remit of producing pieces which relate to Elizabeth I and her time spent at Hatfield House before her accession to the throne. And did they succeed? Most definitely Yes!

The eight who were partipating in this project are Nancy Kerr – a singer/songwriter and violinist whose strength lay in the storytelling through song about the less desirable side of this period in history. She opened the set with The Shores Of Hispaniola and was also the main vocals on Broadside and The Oak Casts His Shadow.

There was also the gravely voice of John Smith and Martin Simpson who sang to us about London, Christopher Marlowe and Elizabeth Spells Death.  We had Folk singer Of The Year Bella Hardy with Love In Idleness and Hatfield,  Rachel Newton on the harp with Come Live With Me, Hannah James on accordion and with some clog dancing as well, Jim Moray on piano and Emily Askew on fiddle and recorders.

Each person took time to explain how their piece had come about and the history behind it, which may not be to everyones liking however I found the whole show very enjoyable and interesting too. The full album is available to download and if you are looking for something a wee bit different to listen to, I would recommend this album.

Ruth Roy

Presenter, Celtic Music Radio

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