Top 10 picks of Celtic Connections 2016

From James Robertson to Baaba Maal, John Grant to Lau, here are 10 must-see concerts at Glasgow’s festival of roots music

The UK’s biggest and best celebration of Celtic music begins on Thursday. Some of best folk and roots artists from around the world will be in Glasgow to perform in a festival of 300 events over 18 days. We pick our 10 must-see concerts.

Sam Lee & Friends Tron Theatre, 15 January
Collector, tradition-bearer, troubadour, Lee is the most interesting young voice in English folk. Old songs learned from Traveller communities done in glitchy, ambient new arrangements.

James Robertson’s Pilgrimer Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 16 January
A poetic Scots reimagining of the classic Joni Mitchell road album Hejira, performed by Scottish folk singers including Karine Polwart, Annie Grace, Rod Paterson and Julie Fowlis.

Chris Wood Glasgow Art Club, 16 January
Hard-hitting, tender and politically astute English song in the proud footsteps of Martin Carthy and Nic Jones. Wood’s sixth solo album is out later this year and we’ll get to hear the new material here.

Baaba Maal.
Baaba Maal. Photograph: Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images

This Is The Kit Drygate Brewery, 16 January
The moniker of Kate Stables, a Parisian-based Bristolian who sings poised, soulful indie-folk in a voice that’s understated, dusk-lit and stylish. Her band includes The National’s Aaron Dessner and the excellent Rozi Plain and her latest album, Bashed Out, is full of drowsy beauty.

Baaba Maal Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 22 January
It’s impossible to resist the golden voice and superstar showmanship of Senegal’s musical giant.

John Grant Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 26 January
Scorching and noble, bruising and sweet, erudite and synth-poppy … John Grant will find some part of your innards to tug at.

Lau Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 28 January
The UK’s mightiest folk trio. Deep-thinking, always inventive and a marvel of a live act. They team up with the Elysian Quartet to revisit the expansive terrains of their latest album, The Bell That Never Rang.

Lynched. Photograph: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi/The Guardian

Lynched Tron Theatre, 30 January
Traditional Irish balladry delivered with do-or-die grit. The singing is coarse and lovely; the guitars, pipes, fiddle and harmonium are raucous.

They Might Be Giants (family show) O2 ABC, 31 January
Say what you like about the daftness of their grown-up pop, but this Brooklyn band is great with the kids. Volume down, lyrics clean, catchy tunes and treat the audience like, well, a real audience.

Bert Inspired: A Concert for Bert Jansch Old Fruitmarket, 31 January; Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 1 February
Five years after the death of the groundbreaking, gentle, shy, troubled and immensely influential Scottish singer/guitarist, fans including Robert Plant, Bernard Butler and Ben Watt pay tribute.

•The 2016 Celtic Connections festival is from 14 to 31 January.


Kate Molleson

The GuardianTramp

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