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Features / Chloe joins established names at festival

Young singer-songwriter Chloe Robertson. Photo: Scott Goudie.

THERE will once again be a sizeable Shetland contingent among performers at the 2014 Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, which gets underway tonight.

Several established isles musicians, including fiddlers Aly Bain, Jenna Reid, Chris Stout and Ross Couper, will perform in various guises during the fortnight-long roots festival. For the first time Lerwick singer Chloe Robertson will also appear.

Meanwhile Shetlanders form a three-fifths majority in Edinburgh-based indie/folk quintet Dante, who also feature on the bill.

Singer songwriter Robertson will be making her debut Celtic Connections appearance. The 18 year old, who is studying in Glasgow, has been given a slot on the Danny Kyle open stage on 27 January. 

Robertson said she was “really excited” to be part of the festival: “It’s great to get the opportunity to be involved in such a reputable event. It’ll be my first time attending Celtic Connections so I’m looking forward to cramming in plenty of concerts too.”

She will have around 300 events featuring over 2,000 artists and spread over 20 venues to choose from between now and 2 February.

Stout is playing alongside Finlay McDonald and Catriona McKay as part of a show entitled The Cauld Wind Blaws Big at the Royal Concert Hall on 26 January.

Three days later he’ll be at the Old Fruitmarket for The Great Gathering, a concert and dance which he is co-curating.

Reid will be performing, along with her sister Berthany, as part of the band RANT in the Old Fruitmarket on Wednesday. “It’s a stunning venue and we’re delighted to be sharing the bill with Julie Fowlis,” she said.

She’ll be back at the same venue a week later, performing with Blazin’ Fiddles on 31 January as they launch their new album.

“We’re really chuffed to be launching our record at the festival,” she said, adding it was shaping up to be an “exciting few weeks” with RANT heading to London’s Royal Albert Hall on 20 February for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, where they are nominated for best traditional track.

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Bain will once more be at the heart of the Transatlantic Sessions jamboree. He is co-directing the show along with Jerry Douglas, with the house band including Phil Cunningham and Danny Thompson.

Other Transatlantic guests include regulars Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien, while Orcadian singer Kris Drever, who recently moved to Shetland, also features on the bill.

Couper will be playing with the Peatbog Faeries at the popular ABC venue on 23 January.

Dante, meanwhile, will play at the ABC on Sunday as part of a show called “Hazy Recollections”. It promises to be a celebration of acts whose music “meets at the boundaries of the indie, folk, roots and country scenes”.

Sean McLaughlin, originally from Bressay, is the driving force behind Dante, the band also featuring his partner Vicky Gray, who hails from Aith, and his brother Liam.

The group, who have been likened to Arcade Fire and Frightened Rabbit, featured in the Sunday Herald newspaper’s list of the top 50 Scottish albums of 2013. You can download their single No Original Art for free on the band’s Soundcloud page.

Former Aberfeldy member Gray plays fiddle, synth and glockenspiel as well as singing, while Sean, a member of Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones’ solo project, is the chief songwriter.

Dante’s album Wake was released on Stitch Records in the autumn. It is a record Gray feels includes “an element of pining for home”.

“The Shetland influence can be heard in the fiddle and the mandolin, and in the lyrics,” she told Shetland News.

Sean agrees, citing several tracks on Wake – including its title track – which drew inspiration from these shores.

“Wake is very much about community and how easily it can be dismantled,” he said. “It’s written from the perspective of someone who has watched their family and friends grow up and leave.

“It’s about feeling like a place is home, and that no matter where you go, you always feel a big invisible elastic band pulling you back there.”

* Full details about Celtic Connections 2014 are available on the festival website at www.celticconnections.com

 

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