ON Thursday, Scotland's gloomy winter will be brought to life as the annual Celtic Connections Torchlight Parade lights up Glasgow's city centre.
Over the next 18 days 1500 acts will play 300 events across 14 venues.
And this year, more so than any year since it began in 1994, Scotland's top winter festival will offer a range of music unsurpassed in the UK, with sounds varying from traditional Scots and Irish music to folk, jazz, roots, gospel and indie.
As well as an exclusive gig from Sir Tom Jones, the festival will celebrate Bob Dylan's 70th birthday, a one-off gig by Glasgow cult band Love and Money and a gig to mark the 25th year of the BMX Bandits.
Celtic Connections will also feature performances from Fran Healy, gospel singer Mavis Staples, Scots legend Dougie MacLean, ex-Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan, Raul Malo from The Mavericks and Johnny Cash's daughter Rosanne.
Donald Shaw, Artistic Director of Celtic Connections, said: "We're very excited. I think this year's festival is the most diverse to date.
"We have a really strong indie strand with acts such as Fran Healy, John Grant, Seth Lakeman, all appearing in Glasgow over the next few weeks, as well as some really talented new Scottish artists like Rachel Sermanni and Aerials Up.
"This year we're also celebrating the influence of gospel with legendary artists such as Mavis Staples and Tom Jones, who'll perform his fantastic new album Praise & Blame.
Another highlight is sure to be Rosanne Cash performing from The List, her latest album featuring her dad's favourite 12 country songs."
Confirming the radical diversity of this year's festival is The Pulse of World featuring Zakir Hussain at the opening concert next Thursday at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
Hussain is the son of Alla Rakha, Ravi Shankar's tabla player and the event will bring together Indian music, Scottish and Irish traditional musicians, the Hebridean singing of Jenna Cumming, and the drum corps of the Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band to create a breathtaking night of music.
Another highlight will be the allstar tribute gig on January 24 to celebrate Bob Dylan's 70th birthday.
Although Dylan won't be making an appearance it will feature Rosanne Cash, Josh Rouse and Tim O'Brien.
Last year Sir Tom Jones turned 70 himself and also released one of his best albums, Praise & Blame, which stripped back the pizzazz of more recent hits to his younger days singing gospel tunes in his local chapel.
He will perform on January 17 at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
He said: "It's the kind of music that got me really interested when I was young, when I would hear this gospel, country or blues. It's basic roots music.
"We used to sing a song in a chapel called The Old Rugged Cross.
"People like Mahalia Jackson and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded it."
When Sir Tom became pals with Elvis Presley the pair would sing gospel tunes together and The King suggested The Voice should record one - but it took nearly 30 years.
He added: "I was concentrating on making a good album with the right musicians and the right songs.
"I thought I can make a really good album that will last, that people can play at any time that's not seasonal.
"It's basic stuff, really well recorded. And it paid off."
Celtic Connections is on from January 13 until January 30.
For more information, dates and ticket details, log on to www.celticconnections.com
Glasgow prepares for influx of diverse musical talent as Celtic Connections arrives - The Daily Record
Friday, 7 January 2011
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