Coastal Connections Festival 2020 review and photography by Pauline Keightley
Celtic Connections 2020
18 January, 2020
Celebrating Coastal Connections
This new festival within a festival celebrating Scotland’s vast coastlines and many islands was highly successful and a sold-out event. For the price of a ticket, we were given a wristband to access musical performances of the highest calibre .
The festival was held over different spaces in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall– the main auditorium, exhibition hall, Buchanan suite and Strathclyde suite. The main event took place in the main hall, set up to created a relaxed atmosphere with tables and chairs in the front area and space for dancing.
Some of the festivals top ceilidh bands took part – From North Uist we were treated to the perfect voice of Julie Fowlis along with Eamon Doorley, Zoe Conway and John McIntyre. Diamh from the Hebrides, proved a strong presence with accomplished musicians and lead singer Ellen MacDonald. Capercaillie, from Oban, were the ultimate professionals – a band performing strong tunes and contemporary rhythms led by accordion player (and festival director) Donald Shaw and with the wonderful Karen Matheson performing beautiful Gaelic songs. Tiree-based Skerryvore are a powerhouse ceilidh band lit up the final show.
The more intimate spaces musicians included – Orkney bands Gnoss and Fara; fiddler Gillian Frame from Arran; Ceol Nan Eilean from Benbecula; from Cape Breton Miller, MacDonald, Cormier and Feis Rois with John Somerville’s Voyage of the Hector; Esther Swift’s The Flood; from Lochaber Ingrid Henderson, Anna and Mairearad from the Black Isle.
The island journeys made by Scotland’s travellers were celebrated with a musical contribution from Ferry Tales, a production from the National Theatre of Scotland. And Launch! With films of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and a live performance by Jenny Sturgeon of alt-folk band, Salt House.
There were also art displays and musical instruments on show. I thought there might have been more coastal signage or art displays. There certainly are many outstanding photographers who shoot powerful images of Scotland’s incredible coastlines, perhaps a display for another day. I’ve been fortunate to visit Scotland’s islands recently and its north coast. If the weather is kind (as it can be in May or Autumn) there is nothing to surpass the wildness, subtle, shifting light, blinding winds, thunderous waves and perfect white sands.
Review and Photos Pauline Keightley – www.pkimage.co.uk
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