There’s around 2100 acts appearing at this year’s Celtic Connections so we’re paying attention to the ones we expect to see and those lesser known folk who we except to be well worth seeing.
Canadian “powertrad trio” De Temps Antan are a cert to satisfy the traditional folk crowd with their robust and infectious sounds. Singing in French, Éric Beaudry (guitar), André Brunet (fiddle) and Pierre-Luc Dupuis (accordion/harmonica) need no translation as they switch from rambunctious drinking songs to beautiful traditional airs with each excelling on their respective instruments. Their latest album, Ce Monde Ici-Bas (The World Below) is a fine introduction to the stomping, wheezing and danceable storm they can whip up. They’re appearing at The Mitchell library on 31 January with support from Gria.
Elephant Revival, a Colorado based five piece, open their first UK tour with an appearance at the Old Fruitmarket which is our favourite venue of the festival. Multi instrumentalists all the five band members conjure up a cornucopia of sounds weaving intricate and at times stately set pieces. While guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle and washboard are all employed the songs and vocal harmonies are tightly arranged with an almost chamber folk feel at times. With several vocalists on board it might be unfair to pick one out but washboard player Bonnie Paine has that Karen Dalton touch to her voice. Although they excel on their well mannered hymns to nature and spirituality they can turn out a good old fashioned earthy number such as Spinning from their forthcoming album, These Changing Skies, due for release in March. Grace Of A Woman, again from the new album has a sparkling Paul Simon snap to it as the band step up their pace and almost rock while they do whip up a fine gospel inspired frenzy on the closing song Rogue River. As stated they’re at the Old Fruitmarket on Friday 24th January supported by Salt House.
And finally it’s time to land slap bang into the middle of good old fashioned American Honky tonking with the news that Sturgill Simpson is playing at the festival as part of his UK debut. Who? Well it’s just been announced that he’s been signed to Loose Records and that’s just about as good a recommendation as one can get. Loose will release his debut album, High Top Mountain in February. We’ve precious little information on him other than that he’s from Kentucky and evokes the likes of Waylon Jennings with his hard edged sound and listening to the album here we can only agree with that. Simpson is playing the Tron Theatre on Saturday 18th January supporting the highly recommended Lindi Ortega.