It’s cold, it’s the New Year and there are long, dark evenings and late sunrises. It must be Celtic Connections time. It is, of course, but for the first time in as long as I can remember, the city is quiet and the house lights are not on at The Royal Concert Hall in the centre of Glasgow.
I went downtown last week to record a couple of songs with the good Roddy Hart for his on line Roamin’ Roots show. It was strange walking into the Concert Hall when there was no hint of the normal atmosphere to be seen or heard. In fairness, the festival and The Lonesome Fire were making the best of things by creating a great atmosphere on stage (six feet apart) to a gallery of cameras. You can see see all of this on the CC stream this coming weekend.
It made me reflect a little on festivals gone by when we’ve welcomed guests into the BBC foyer, The Strathclyde Suite, The CCA and last year into The Cottier Theatre for some great songwriters rounds. From the top of my head I’m remembering The Be Good Tanyas, Margo Price, My Darling Clementine, Rob Vincent, Charlie Dore, The Secret Sisters and Rickie Lee Jones all being guests on some magical nights. It’s also been great to see our regular listeners face to face and hear comments and suggestions when we meet up.
None of this is going to happen this year, as you well know. It is, however, remarkable to see how much effort the Festival and the guest artists have gone to, to make something happen to brighten our lives this January. How do you get artists together when they need to stay apart? How do you connect with people when you can only talk online? As I’m sure you realise, the greater the difficulty, the more ingenious the circumvention by musicians.
So, we salute the Americana Night brought together this year which features Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turresi, Dean Owens and Calexico and more this coming Sunday evening.
I caught up with Rhiannon last week from her temporary base in Dublin and asked her all about the album she made with Francesco as well as getting her hot take on the unfolding drama of the new presidency back home. It was a good time to talk. You can hear all of that conversation on this week’s show.
As well as that we’ll have some happy reminders of guests who’ve joined us around this time of year from festivals past. Listen out too for great new music from Flyte, The Pink Stones, Eric Church, Brit Taylor and Willie Jones. In a packed two hours you might even imagine you’re having a great night out, but, on what promises to be a cold one, be grateful you can listen in from your own fireside.
Join me live from five past eight this Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland or listen in any time on BBC Sounds.