Rhiannon Giddens collects songs, instruments and stories from all through history and synthesises them perfectly with her modern musical purpose. She believes in teaching us the failings of the past, to better understand our present. On her new album she has paired up with Italian virtuoso musician Francesco Turrisi, someone who shares her connection with folk music history, with his expertise in Islamic, Mediterranean and eastern styles. By pairing together on this album ‘there is no Other‘ (capitalisation deliberate) they want to show that no matter where we come from we are all one voice, one history, one future.
In his introduction to ‘Notes on A Native Son’ James Baldwin declared, ‘I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much more than that. So are we all.’ Inspired by his work, Rhiannon Giddens initially brought together this group of musicians in order to try to reclaim the black female history of America. Once the project began she realised that it had become much more than just about telling the stories of the past; it became an expression of creative freedom conveying hope for the future too.
Giddens, with her collaborators Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell wrote and recorded these songs together at producer Dirk Powell’s studio in Louisiana (Kaia Kater was also invited but unable to attend due to scheduling). Mixing originals with songs inspired by historic folk music and stories the result is an astonishingly powerful, and listenable, piece of art. Continue reading “Our Native Daughters – Songs Of Our Native Daughters”
On Monday night Rhiannon Giddens made a welcome return to Scotland to play a special show with the ‘Celtic Blues’ orchestra, led by Grit conductor Greg Lawson and made up of a varied array of players. The new versions of these songs, arranged by Gabe Witcher of The Punch Brothers, were neither strictly classical or folk but occupied what Giddens called an ‘interesting realm’ between the two. The results of this collaboration produced an evening of music of the highest quality that was a privilege to witness. Continue reading “Live Review: Rhiannon Giddens @ Celtic Connections”
In the dead of winter there’s sometimes slim pickings on the live music scene but thankfully in Scotland we have one of the world’s best music festivals to encourage us all out of our hibernation. Celtic Connections runs from the 17th January to 3rd February in a variety of venues all across Glasgow. The festival hosts roots, folk and traditional music from Scotland and all around the world, including a fine selection of Americana acts.
The main dilemma with a festival that offers such an array of different artists is choosing who to see, with many days having multiple events to decide between. Every year the programme is announced I fear bankruptcy is imminent. So to help you decide I have spent some time going through the programme and here’s some of the must see female acts playing the festival this year. Continue reading “Celtic Connections 2019 Preview”
At this moment it’s hard to believe that 2019 could be as good a year for music as 2018, such was the brilliance of so many albums released in the last twelve months. But then again I said the exact same thing last year and everything turned out swell.
So here’s hoping for more of the same in 2019. Read on to find out who you might be listening to this year.
Acclaimed singer songwriter Laura Veirs is a longtime fan of the music of Elizabeth Cotten, the folk musician known as ‘Libba’, who is the subject of her beautiful picture book published by Chronicle Books. Cotten’s story is astonishing – a self taught guitarist who was only discovered in later life due to an unexpectedly wonderful twist of fate. Continue reading “On ‘Libba’ & How Folk Musician Elizabeth Cotten Inspired Laura Veirs”
This week the stars of the TV show Nashville are in Britain to tour. Take a look at these venues – Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham Arena, Glasgow Hydro – these have huge capacities and most of these shows are selling well. It seems ludicrous, really, considering none of the people on this bill have ever had a hit song or even released a successful album of their own. Continue reading “The Problem With ‘Nashville Live’”