Celtic Connections 2022: Transatlantic Sessions
Review and Photographs by Pauline Keightley
Celtic Connections 6 February, 2022
The Transatlantic Sessions concert celebrates the important musical connections between Scots, Irish and American traditional music. Songs capture those sometimes forgotten stories of emigration across the rough seas in small wooden sailing ships, with many hopes and dreams of a better life as the migrants brought their old ballads and tunes with them. Sometimes they had no choice but to leave home – . it is important to remember our past..
“Normally Celtic Connections welcomes 80 musicians from America,” festival director Donald Shaw said. “But due to all the Covid restrictions this year, only five Americans have been able to make it across and they are all on stage tonight!”
This concert included long-standing performers at Celtic Connections along with new faces. From US roots music, we were treated to the talent of Grammy-award-winning American singer Sarah Jarosz.
She has a quiet stillness and one of those hypnotic voices that pulls you in. She sang Orange and Blue, Blue Heron, Hometown and Dylan’s Ring the Bell.
New faces also included, Haitian-American musician Leyla McCaila, who is an earthy and soulful singer and was previously with the band The Carolina Chocolate Drop. Award-winning and talented Scots singer songwriter Siobhan Miller sang traditional songs May Morning Dew, Honest Man and her own song Drifting and was clearly thrilled to have joined this elite band!
Dirk Powell from Kentucky, who is a leading expert of Appalachian music, performed songs of his family’s inspiring history; Bright Light of Day, Waterdown and Walking Through Clay. He said it is important to tell our stories and spoke of his own family’s history and of his grandfather carving his name with his young man’s hope on an old tree.
Popular Irish musician Paul Brady was another highlight and performed a top class show finale when he sang, Concert Going and Harvest time. This was followed by a grand finale, which was as always of exhilarating Scots tunes!
A special mention should be given for the talents of the band’s outstanding musicianship, they don’t come any better than this! Highlights from the wide variety of styles – Dirk Powell’s Waterdown, and Sara Jarosz’s vocals alongside Douglas’s dubro and Daniel Kimdro’s double bass. And, of course, Ali Bain’s accomplished Shetland fiddle. Phil Cunningham told how his musical partner Ali, after 35 years playing together, told him how talented he was!
Long may we be treated to such accomplished musicians. I hope there will be some recordings of the Transatlantic Sessions to enjoy on YouTube soon, which I highly recommend checking out.
The Transatlantic Sessions band is led by musical directors – Shetland fiddle legend Aly Bain, accordion legend Phil Cunningham and dobro genius Jerry Douglas, and the band includes John Doyle, Daniel Kimbro, Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker, Donald Shaw and James Mackintosh.
Review and Photos Pauline Keightley – pkimage.co.uk/celticonnections
This section: Pauline Keightley, Photography
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