Scotland’s Wild Heart

The only thing missing from the opening segment of this evening for us Americans was popcorn.  “Scotland’s Wild Heart” was a condensed version of a 2016 BBC series, featuring incredible footage of Scotland’s wild vistas and animals.  Donald Shaw’s score, played live by a first rate orchestra, fit perfectly with the beautiful scenes of soaring White-tailed Eagles; Capercaillies strutting through the morning cold, their breath trailing mist; otters frolicking in snow and water; whales, orcas; gray seals nuzzling their young; and all the glories of Scotland’s natural, wild environs.

For those able to access the BBC’s iplayer, the whole series is available http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03pjc9p .  Do yourself a favor, with or without the popcorn, watch this series and listen to the amazing music.

The rest of the evening was equally amazing.

The String Sisters at Celtic Connections 2018

Magic happened seventeen years ago, when Catriona Macdonald, Annbjørg Lien, Liz Carroll, Liz Knowles, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, and Emma Härdelin came together to become the String Sisters as a one-off gig at Celtic Connections.  They had such a great time that, despite commitments to other bands and projects, they keep finding ways to perform together.  And we’re all luckier for it.

Their combination of Nordic and Celtic styles is fantastic.  The energy they create when all six fiddles fill the hall is electric.  They seamlessly split the music between themselves, becoming solos, duos, and then all six back again.

Backing them is the String Misters: Tore Bruvoll on guitar, Dave Milligan on piano, Conrad Molleson on bass and James Mackintosh playing percussion.

This caliber of musicianship only happens at large festivals like Celtic Connections.  Gathering all these busy musicians together requires a great deal of work.  Many thanks to the String Sisters, the String Misters, and the staff of Celtic Connections for making this happen.

The String Sisters http://www.stringsisters.net/
Catriona Macdonald https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catriona_MacDonald
Annbjørg Lien http://annbjorglien.com/
Liz Carroll https://www.lizcarroll.com/
Liz Knowles https://www.lizknowles.com/
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh http://www.mairead.ie/
Emma Härdelin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_H%C3%A4rdelin


Celtic Connections 2018 started for us with two very different bands playing in the Strathclyde Suite.  The opening quartet, consisting of two Irishmen from bluegrass backgrounds, Paddy Kiernan and Niall Hughes, and two Iranian brothers, Shahab and Shayan Coohe, set a high bar for the evening.  Blending multiple genres, they interwove banjo, bass, santoor, tar, and tombak into gorgeous, complex tunes that mesmerize.  The combination of music and musicians having a great time was a perfect beginning.  The audience rose in a standing ovation at the end, demanding more that the band admitted they didn’t have prepared.  Luckily for all, they have a new CD, Tapestry, for all their new fans.

Nava at Celtic Connections 2018


via Creative Scotland’s website, and also via the Secret North’s website.

The Secret North, we were told, was not a band, but a project that combined six musicians who had never worked together and were from different traditions, who got together for five days over the summer to compose new music that shared and crossed boundaries.  I think they managed that goal very well.  Their sound was a lot of Celtic, some Nordic, jazz, a little discordia, and poetry.

The project has a world class line-up: Donald Grant – Fiddle; Ailie Robertson – Harp, Sondre Meisfjord – Double Bass, Karen Tweed – Accordion, Jarlath Henderson – Whistle, Pipes, and Marit Fält – Mandola.


One of the many charms of Celtic Connections is the focus on “connections.”  Lahira is an incredible connection of Celtic and Indian musicians. Skye Gaelic singer Anne Martin provides the Celtic base with her strong voice and presence.  Joining her are British-Indian vocal/electro artist Jason Singh, along with two of India’s most revered musicians – violinist Sharat Chandra Srivastava and Gyan Singh on tabla.  Bassist/guitarist Joe Harrison-Greaves is also in the group.  This is something that must be experienced by all traditional and crossover music lovers.  Martin may start out with what seems to be a traditional Gaelic song, but once Srivastava adds the violin for the tune’s heart and Singh grounds it with his rhythms, there is no telling where your imagination will soar on the music.  Watching the audience get into the songs and tunes was almost as much fun as enjoying what the band was providing on stage.  Sadly, they had no CD to buy, but you can follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lahiramusic/ .

The main act was billed as KGB – Keenan, Gavin, and Byrne.  Old friends Paddy Keenan and Frankie Gavin had a wonderful night poking fun at each other, with Paddy using his pipes to make chicken squawks and play “Happy Birthday” to himself.  Always a comedian, Frankie raced through jokes almost as fast as he can fiddle.  Dermot Byrne held down his end of the stage with a patient smile and incredible accordion virtuosity, whenever Paddy and Frankie were ready to play some tunes.  This gig had so many highlights, from the running gag of Paddy’s first job as an egg-sorter (prompted by the chicken squawks), to old favorite tunes played by master musicians, to Dermot’s solo, and an unscheduled departure from traditional tunes to an old rock standard.  Old friends playing beautiful music made for a grand evening.




Patrick Ball brings his newest show, Come Dance With Me in Ireland, to Fort Bragg's Eagles Hall as a benefit KZYX performance.

Patrick Ball brings his newest show, Come Dance With Me in Ireland, to Fort Bragg’s Eagles Hall as a benefit KZYX performance.



Tony McManus-Inveran/Devil in the Kitchen-The Maker’s Mark-Compass
Runa-Amhran Mhuighinse-Somewhere Along the Road-Runa
Three Mile Stone-Old Innishowan-Irish Music fom San Francisco-TMS

Malinky-Follow the Heron-Three Ravens-Green Trax
Cassie and Maggie-Sterling Road-Hearth PR
Jim and Susie Malcolm-Fiddle and Bow-Spring will Follow On-Beltane
Daimh-Hiu Ra Bho Nuair-Tuneship-Ostaig


Old Blind Dogs-Psychopomps-Where Ever Yet Be-Compass
Karen Casey and John Doyle-Sailing Off to the Yankee Land-Exile’s Return-Compass
Johnny Connoly-The Bush on the Hill/Bobby Casey’s-Bridgetown-Green Linnet
McKassen and McDonald-Bay of Biscay-HarbourMcKassen and McDonald


Robin Bullock-Rigler’s March/Rex’s Rambles-Earth and Sky-Maggie’s Music
Orla-Na Buachailli Alainn-The Water is Wide
Marla Fibish and Bruce Victor-Paddy Canny’s Toast-Noctambule
Ed Miller-The Rolling Hills of the Borders-Never Frae my Mind


Jena Moynihan-Haven-Woven-Moynihan
Karen Matheson-Nighean Dubh Nighean Donn-At the Heart of it All
Anna Murrey-Finbarr-Into Indigo-Lochshore
Sylvia Herold-Courting is a Pleasure-Crystal Tears


Rory Cambell and Malcolm Stitt-John Griffin’s-Lochshore
Christa Burch-Love of the Land-Love of the Land-Burch
Mark Dunlop-The Three Huntsman-Islands on the Moon-Green Trax
McKasson and Mc Donald-Theme for Scotland-Habour


Jim Reid-Daft Doft Donald-Yont the Tay-Green Trax
Colleen Raney-Canadee-I-O-Here This Home-Little Sun Records
Billy McComiskey-Keogh’s/Maggie Lynn’s-Outside the Box-Compass
Aiden O’Rorke-Mangersta Beach-Sirius-Vertical

Playlist Jan. 7, 2018

The Chieftains “Lord Mayo” from The Chieftains 4 (1973) on Claddagh Records Limited

The Chieftains “Cunla” from Another Country (1992) on RCA Victor

Matt Molloy “Tommy Coen’s, The Otter’s Holt, McFadden’s Handsome Daughter” from Music at Matt Molloy’s (1992) on Real World

Set break

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem “Dialogue/The Irish Rover” from In Person At Carnegie Hall (2009) on Columbia/Legacy

The Clancy Brothers & Robbie O’Connell “Wild Rover” from Tunes ‘n’ Tales of Ireland on Folk Era

Tommy Makem & Liam Clancy “Ballad of St. Anne’s Reel” from The Makem and Clancy Collection (2005) on Shanachie Entertainment

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem “Oro Se do Bheata Mhaile” from In Person At Carnegie Hall (2009) on Columbia/Legacy

Set break

The Original Dubliners “The Fairmoy Lasses & Sporting Paddy” from The Best of the Original Dubliners (2003) on EMI

The Original Dubliners “Dirty Old Town” from The Best of the Original Dubliners (2003) on EMI

The Original Dubliners “whiskey In the Jar” from The Best of the Original Dubliners (2003) on EMI

Set break

Clannad “An Gabhar Bán” from Clannad 2 (1974) on Gael Linn

Clannad “The Galtee Hunt” from Dulaman (1976) on Shanachie

Frankie Kennedy & Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh “Cita Na GCumann” from Altan (2006) on Green Linnet

Altan “Con Cassidy’s and Neil Gow’s Highlands / Moll and Tiarna / McSweeney’s Reels” from Horse With a Heart (2006) on Green Linnet

Set break

Julie Fowlis “Dh’èirich Mi Moch, b’ Fheàrr Nach Do Dh’èirich” from alterum (2017) on Machair Records Ltd

Liz Carroll “The Fruit and the Snoot / On the Offbeat” from On the Offbeat (2013) on Liz Carroll

Cathal McConnell “The Hurricane of Reels” from Long Expectant Comes At Last (2000) on Compass Records

String Sisters “Shetland Fiddle Diva / Kinyon’s Jig / Kinyon’s Reel / Lad O’beirne’s” from String Sisters Live (2007) on Heilo

Set break

Arthur Cormack “Tionndaidh Am Bat (Turn the Boat)” from Ruith Na Gaoith (1989) on Temple Records

Frankie Gavin, Malachy Bourke & Brian Bourke “The Glenbeigh/Memories of Sligo” from The Master’s Return (2015) on Ergodos

Siobhan Miller “Banks of Newfoundland” from Strata (2017) on Songprint Recordings

Duncan Chisholm “Chasing Daylight” from Canaich (2010) on Copperfish

Set break

Capercaillie “Fear a Bhata” from The Blood is Strong (1988) on Survival Records

Fara “Billy’s Short Leg” from cross the line (2016) on Nordic Notes

Kathleen MacInnes “Oran na Cloiche” from Summer Dawn (2006) on Greentrax Recordings

Blazin’ Fiddles “The Diplodocus” from Six (2013) on Blazin Records

Fiddler’s Bid “The Fiddlers’ Bid Ode to Joy” from All Dressed In Yellow (2009) on Hairst Blinks Music

New Year’s Eve playlist

Horslips “Drive the Cold Winter Away” from Drive the Cold Winter Away (Bonus Version) (2010) on Celtic Airs


Christa Burch “giant” from Love of the Land (2009) on Christa Burch

Dervish “Apples in Winter” from Harmony Hill (1996) on Dervish

Catherine-Ann MacPhee “Chi Mi’ N Geamhradh” from Chi Mi’ N Geamhradh (1991) on Greentrax Recordings

Set break

Julie Fowlis “Lon-dubh/Blackbird” from Cuilidh (2007) on Spit & Polish

Dougie Maclean “The Osprey” from Fiddle (1984) on Dunkeld Records

Andy M. Stewart “The Echo Mocks the Corncake” from The Man In the Moon (2006) on Green Linnet

Battlefield Band “The Golden Eagle / O’er the Moor to Maggie / The Highland Man Kissed His Grannie / Wissahickon Drive” from New Spring (2008) on Temple Records

Set break


Calum Alex MacMillan “Fonn Mo Leannain” from Till (2017) on Vertical Records

Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas “Freedom Come All Ye” from Ports of Call (2017) on Culburnie Records

Julie Fowlis “Fear a’ Bhrochain / Dòmhnall Binn” from alterum (2017) on Machair Records Ltd

Fras “Tom McHale’s” from Dile (2016) on Birnam

Station ID

Mary Ann Kennedy “Grioglachan” from An Dan (2017) on ARC Music

Set break


The Drunken Gaugers “The Broken Windscreen” from The Drunken Gaugers (2017) on Brooklyn Boy 1 Records

Lankum “Bad Luck to the Rolling Water” from Between the Earth and Sky (2017) on Rough Trade

Doyle McCusker Goldrick “The Wishing Tree” from The Wishing Tree (2017) on Under One Sky Records

Gudrun Walther & Jürgen Treyz “Maid on the Shore” from duo (2017) on Walther & Treyz Records

Réalta “Saltón De Meres / Pasacáis Del Xarreru (Asturian Tunes)” from Clear Skies (2016) on Réalta Records

Set break


Gillian Frame “Rothes Colliery (feat. Mike Vass, Euan Burton & Anna Massie)” from pendulum (2017) on Cheerygroove

Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton “Fourth” from Symbiosis (2017) on Great White Records

Old Blind Dogs “Sawney Bean” from Room with a View (2017) on OBD Music

The Fire “Calum McKinnon” from Ignite (2017) on Independent

Set break

Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter “An irish blessing” from A Winter Gift (2014) on White Strand Records

The Tannahill Weavers “Auld lang syne” from Best of the Tannahill Weavers (2006) on Green Linnet