Bringing you the best from Scotland's premier winter music festival, The List’s four-page guide takes you through the highlights of this years CELTIC CONNECTIONS. Our coverage continues next issue
Embodying the true spirit of Celtic Connections is a unique collaboration between two of Ireland's most respected artists: man of pipes, LIAM O'FLYNN, and man of words, SEAMUS HEANEY.
\‘Jriirls: Norman Chalmers . .
'l'wo masters of the solo voice. a poet and a piper. make one of the most profound (‘eltic connections this year. Among the greatest of a nation of born wordsiniths is l'lster's Seamus Heaney. Nobel Laureate for Literature — and Seamus the Famous to his neighbours. lle teams tip with l.iam ()‘ l’lyiin. a man whose virtuoso piping always evokes the majesty and dignity of Ireland's ancient musical tradition.
lleaney and 0‘ Flynn collaborate on a new (‘1) Keeping ’l’inii'. scheduled for a spring release on (‘laddaglL and ()‘Flynn is keen to highlight the spirit that brought them together. ‘Seaintis was born into a rural farming hackgi'otind.‘ he says. ‘That‘s a strong connection between us as I‘m also from the country. I‘ve always related very much to Seamtis‘s poems. especially the earlier ones. He set down what i felt as a child. Also. music matters a lot to Seamus. There’s an extraordinary contrast between our two mediums btit. interestingly. l have heard Seamus say that the sound of the uillean pipes creates the condition for poetry.‘
There is a noble. wild and yet often domestic quality to world‘s most complex bagpipe. lt‘s two-octave chanter has a tone that changes when either played with closed or open lingering. There are the rich lap-laid drones. and the set of secondary keyed drones. or regulators. on which a counterinelody or harmony chords can be played: all the while the bag is kept inflated with the underarm bellows as the chanter is stopped very quickly on the knee to overblow into the second octave. All this has to become unconscious. all these skills mastered. before the piper can begin to say something on the instrument. There is the
Liam O'Flynn: pipe dreams
great repertoire of Irish dance music — the hornpipes. slip jigs. slides. set dances. polkas. marches. jigs and reels — a living tradition now as much as at any time in the past; and then there are the beautiful airs. often slow song tunes in from the older Gaelic modal traditions, to which O‘Flynn brings such profound understanding and respect.
'A great favourite of Seamus‘s is the “Lament For Staker Wallace”.' says O‘Flynn. ‘A song about Patrick Wallace. the great agrarian reform activist who was hunted, tortured and beheaded at the end of the l8th
century. The melody makes me think of
Seamus's own translation of Beowulf. That’s a great monument of a poem. and in a way the tune has this epic. monumental quality too.
‘Really. I don‘t think that Seamus needs me or anyone else. he's so good. I listen to his wonderful introductions. then there’s an even more wonderful poem. But what we do works so well. And we do it for the pleasure it brings. We don‘t want it to become an act. It has to be fresh. So we make a plan for the evening.” he laughs. ‘and then we deviate from it.’
Seamus Heaney and Liam O'Flynn, Main Auditorium, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Mon 17 Jan, 7.30pm.
PREVIEW De Dannan
’I grew tip an Irish Catholic in Yorkshue,’ reveals Alec Finn. 'My parents were livmg there, But I upped and moved back to Ireland as soon as I could, and I've been here now for about 36 years,’ For those who know their lrish inuSic, it might come as a Surprise that Finn's unique, rolling, bouzouki style, which defines the instantly recognisable sound of Galway—based De Dannan -- arguably the most Vital of the great Irish traditional acoustic bands ‘ was a late addition to his musical abilities. ’l originally moved to Dublin and got into the blues scene. I played in bands with Gary Moore and Phil Lynott — he ended up in Thin Lizzy. That was me, r ’n’ b.’
Finn’s musical journey carries on though, in that De Dannan have always rung the changes. What remains constant is the telepathic interplay between fiddle legend (and astonishingly good flute player) Frankie Gavin, and Alec Finn’s bouzouki. The others, as Finn notes, ’. . . leave, jom up, rejom, go off solo or whatever. But we often do gigs With some of our former singers as guests.’ And what singers: Dolores Keane and Mary Black, to name a c0uple. The band's latest CD How The West Was Won is actually a compilation album, and the biggest-selling album of Irish mum in Ireland last year. In it you can hear the amazing range of talent that has been schooled in the De Dannan classroom. Re-connecting With Finn, Gavin, vocalist Andrew Murray, Colm Murphy’s bodhran and Brian McGuire's banjo ~ Singer Eleanor Shanley will be the boy’s guest at this year’s Glasgow event. (Norman Chalmers)
I De Dannan, Old Fruitmarket, Thu IBJan, 9pm.
Best Seller: Alec Finn
7—20 Jan 2000 THE “ST 17