Celtic Connections’ Big Top Music Event  –  Finale to “Year of Scotland’s Islands”  –  23-24 MARCH, BROADFORD, ISLE OF SKYE
Featuring: Rosanne Cash, The Civil Wars, Michael McGoldrick Band, Dàimh, The Deadly Gentlemen, Aoife O’Donovan (Crooked Still), Mànran and special guests to be announced

Celtic Connections 2012

© Celtic Connections 2012

Yesterday (8 Dec 2011), Celtic Connections  –  Glasgow’s annual, highly-respected, and soundly established festival of folk, roots and world music  –  announced that it would stage a unique, two-night music event on the Isle of Skye in spring 2012.  The event will form the finale to the Year of Scotland’s Islands, which opened in April 2011, and whose aims include raising the profile of Scotland’s islands across the UK and internationally.

For the first time in 19 years, Celtic Connections will stage an event beyond its home city, taking the festival’s Big Top to Broadford on the dramatic and beautiful Hebridean island for Friday 23 and Saturday 24 March.  The gig, which is expected to attract massive support from dedicated fans of some of the most heartfelt and passionate music in the world, will comprise a high quality, two-day line-up of traditional music, “show-stopping” arts experiences and “action-packed” workshops  –  in short, an opportunity to witness at first hand the work of top international artists and local talent.


© Celtic Connections 2012

Celtic Connections’ Big Top will take to Skye the authentic Nashville Tennessee experience, with Grammy Award winner Rosanne Cash and The Civil Wars.

Rosanne  –  daughter of country legend Johnny Cash  –  has enjoyed 11 number one singles during her 30-year career, and at Broadford she’ll perform some of her greatest hits.  The Civil Wars  –  Joy Williams and John Paul White, from the folk-country-Americana tradition  –  will perform songs from their Grammy-nominated debut album Barton Hollow, which debuted at No.1 in the Billboard Digital Albums chart.

Also taking part will be the Michael McGoldrick Band.  Its show-stopping big-band line-up will showcase its innovative, leading-edge Celtic sounds.  Michael  –  “widely regarded as one of the greatest flute players of all time”  –  has collaborated widely, including with Mark Knopfler, Youssou N’Dour and the Transatlantic Sessions.

Aoife O’Donovan  –  probably best known for her work with Crooked Still  –  will perform her distinctive brand of bluegrass and Americana folk.

Dàimh  –  described by Irish Music Magazine as “one of the most exhilarating acoustic bands on the Celtic map”  –  will play alongside The Deadly Gentlemen, five of Americana’s greatest present-day talents: Greg Liszt (Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions Band, Crooked Still) on banjo and vocals, Michael Barnett on fiddle, Stash Wyslouch on guitar, Dominic Leslie on mandolin and Sam Grisman on double bass.

This week, Mànran won an MG Alba Scots Trad Music Award for Album of the Year.  They’re on their way to becoming the essential Highland band of 2012.  Not only have they enjoyed a massively successful launch of their debut Gaelic single, but they’ve also debuted solidly on the European festivals scene.  Now, they’re about to bring a taste of traditional, Gaelic and folk rock to the Big Top line-up.

At Irish World, Shelley Marsden wrote this about the band: “Donald Shaw of Celtic Connections Festival, Glasgow, gave a ringing endorsement of the band when he said: “Mànran are an exceptionally talented bunch of young guys that are taking the music world by storm with their high energy, stomping tunes and phenomenal Gaelic/English songs”.  He’s not wrong, either.  Mànran, six rather decent-looking young men (!) and talented musicians, have quite literally rocketed to the top of the Scottish music scene with their powerful combination of Gaelic/English songs underpinned by driving Accordion, Fiddle, Flute and a backline of drum and bass to make any mouth water”.

As many as 4,000 residents and visitors are expected to visit the Broadford Big Top to see local performers, and artists from across the globe, share the stage.  But it won’t only be about music  –  there’ll be opportunities also to catch a glimpse of island life as local stalls exhibit and offer the produce  –  and the textiles  –  of Skye.

Announcing this innovative and exciting island-fest, Donald Shaw, Celtic Connections’ Artistic Director, said: “We’re thrilled to bring a taste of Celtic Connections to the people of Skye.  The Big Top is set to highlight the rich tapestry of musical traditions from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and Ireland, along with the very best of Americana, for concerts typical of the festival experience”.

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said: “We are delighted to be supporting Big Top, which will showcase the magic of Celtic Connections to a new audience.  The Isle of Skye will undoubtedly provide the perfect stage for the event and, with a fantastic line-up, will be a fitting finale to the “Year of Scotland’s Islands” programme”.

Murdo Mackay, a project leader for the Year of Scotland’s Islands and Western Isles Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said: “We’re really looking forward to seeing new audiences, as well as loyal folk and world music fans, journey to Skye in spring 2012.  The Big Top is the perfect finale to The Year of Scotland’s Islands, which has had over 500 fantastic events take place across 42 islands since its launch last April.  The Year of Scotland’s Islands has showcased and celebrated the music, arts, food and history of the islands as well as highlighting their unique beauty as visitor destinations too.  The Big Top captures this spirit perfectly”.

Councillor George Redmond, Chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Celtic Connections brings people from all over the world to Glasgow to celebrate and enjoy the finest performances with a Celtic theme.  The Celtic Connections Big Top will allow many more people the chance to enjoy and take part in some amazing performances and workshops. Skye has produced some inspirational and world renowned musicians, and the performances there next spring will build on that rich heritage.”

Tickets go on sale from Friday 9 December 2011, and are available online at www.celticconnections.com/bigtop or 0141 353 8000. A full access, weekend ticket is priced at £40, and day tickets are available at £25.

The core element of Celtic Connections 2012 runs from Thursday 19 January – Sunday 5 February, and comprises 300 concerts, ceilidhs, talks, workshops, free events and late night sessions, taking place over 18 days in 20 venues across Glasgow.  The focal point of the festival is the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, where every available space is utilised during the festival, from workshops in the foyers to performances by world-class artists in the Main Auditorium.

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