PREVIEW John Prine and Iris


Glasgow: Royal Concert Hall, Thu 20 Jan.

It took John Prine 25 years to make his Glasgow debut, but since that memorable occasion back in 1996, he has made it back a couple of times to delight audiences with his downbeat vocals and wonderful songs. For this latest visit to Celtic Connections, he has teamed up with another big favourite in these parts, singer lris DeMent, who will open the show with her own set as well as joining Prine for part of his.

He is a big admirer of Iris's voice (the feeling, she says, is definitely mutual), and invited her to sing with him on his latest album, In Spite Of Ourselves. The record is something of a departure for the singer, consisting as it does of a series of duets with female singers (including Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood, Lucinda Williams and Dolores Keane) on fifteen classic lyin’ and cheatin’ songs. The title track, from the forthcoming movie Daddy And Them in which he also has a role, is his only contribution as a writer.

Prine actually began work on the record three years ago, and had recorded the initial batch of songs when he was diagnosed as suffering a cancer in his neck, which required surgery and a lengthy lay- off. Once back in action, he completed the album and resumed touring.

The duet idea was one he had visited before, notably with Nanci Griffith and Marianne Faithfull, but never a whole album, and certainly

Ladies man: John Prine

never a whole album of songs by other writers. They usually start from something small, maybe a The departure is a one-off, however, and his phrase or a striking image. Sometimes I’ll start in Glasgow show will feature plenty of examples of the middle, with the chorus first, and then I'll his own genius as a wry, acutely perceptive figure out whether I ought to make it a ballad, or writer. put a character into it, and sometimes it's just a

'I guess I see myself primarily as a songwriter. case of going for it and see where it goes - it can With some songs, I don’t really know what they be more of a process of editing than writing at are about until after I've sung them a few times. times.’ (Kenny Mathieson)

Skye's the limit: The Peatbog Faeries


Peatbog Faeries Glasgow: The Arches, Fri 14 Jan.

Formed ten years ago on the Isle of Skye, the Peatbog Faeries' foray into dance music has been a natural progression 'The sound's evolved Amid the Wide range of musiCians over the last fOur years,’ explains playing Celtic Connections are a drummer lain Copeland, 'and the band who take traditional Scottish band was always experimenting music to a whole new level, With different styles to cross over mixing in dance beats With Synth With. We’re still playing traditional sounds and thrOWing woolly music. We're jUSI stretching the jumpers Out the Window. boundaries a wee bit'

18 THE “ST 7—201an 2000

I999 was a good one for the Faeries. Their appearance at Glastonbury went down a storm, resulting in increased interest in their music, ’People who didn’t have a clue who we were beforehand now want to know what the band’s up to' This new improved profile reaches beyond the UK, and the band have performed at festivals in Sweden, France and Namibia.

The Faeries Will be performing in a club enVironment, but you won’t find someone spinning the decks to help create their sound. ’It’s all live,’ reveals Copeland. 'We considered using samples and loops, but we found we preferred playing it live.' Their new album, Faerie Stories, is due out in April, and they're happy to be starting off the year at Celtic Connections ’It gives a platform for a lot of people who otherWise might never get heard.’

(LOUISa Pearson)

PREVIEW New Voices

Celtic Connections innotative New VOices series has brateh allowed substantial new pieces to be commissioned from musicians Within the folk/traditional world Sadlv, they are often performed only a few times. One part of the problem is bringing large numbers or musicians back together, the other is that the compositions are reasonably lengthy and can't be easily slotted into existing venues or programmes

This year's Celtic Connections offers you the chance of catching up With updated versions of preVious commissions and being at the premier of a couple of new ones first off the block this year is Andy lhoibiirn's Tuth Gu Deas i/Vort/t And South) 7 a piece for unaccompanied voices in Gaelic, lowland Scots, Welsh and Doric With text by Aonghas MacNeacail which has been one of the most successful and original commissions

The well-known f’fqulldllff-ban‘d keyboard player and accordionist enthused about the chance he was given by the Celtic Connections commission to return to his own roots. 'My musical education was as a choirboy in an Oxford Universny chapel,’ Thorburn recalls 'There’s a family tradition going back for generations of singing in collegiate choirs I started when I was about nine and learned a lot It was specific, and very detailed and we used to perform antiphonic' music where two groups would sing against each other Within the chOir’

Thorburn has used this deVice for dramatic purposes in this piece in order to reflect two millennia of arrivals and departure from Britain by Romans, Picts, Gaels, Saxons and Britons Without taking sides ‘There is no Judgement, no narrow nationalism or socio-politics It's really a celebration of Our mixed—togetherness ' (Norman Chalmers)

I Tuath Gu Deas, St Mary’s Cathedral Sat 75 Ian, 8pm.

Accordion to taste: Andy Thorburn