The cream of Celtic Connections on BBC ALBA

Julie Fowlis features in new series of Cuirm @ Celtic.
Julie Fowlis features in new series of Cuirm @ Celtic.

The cream of Celtic Connections 2014 concerts will come to our screens in February as BBC ALBA presents a new series of Cuirm @ Celtic.

With the channel once again boasting an eclectic line-up from Celtic Connections, the series will feature performances from top acts including Capercaillie, Julie Fowlis, The Great Gathering, RANT, Stocton’s Wing and Blazin’ Fiddles.

Festival favourites Capercaillie launch the series on February 1st with a concert set celebrating their 30th anniversary tour. With Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall being known as the spiritual home of the festival, then surely Capercaillie can be branded the house band.

Drawing on both their latest material and a repertoire which has taken the band to the top of the music charts, Capercaillie flex their considerable musical might in front of a packed house. The band are joined by a superb array of special guests including Kathleen MacInnes, Sineag MacIntyre, Kris Drever, Gerry O’Connor and Mark Duff.

Cuirm @ Celtic continues on February 8th with one of the brightest Gaelic folk artists around - Julie Fowlis - who brings a bigger band to our screens, although it’s the songs that shine as she showcases her upcoming fourth album.

For someone who has, in the past, candidly admitted to being obsessed by songs and who regards songs as gifts, Julie Fowlis is a generous artist on the evidence of this transcendental performance.

Some special musical guests, including support act - the joyous sounding RANT, augment her regular band -the effortlessly talented trio of Éamon Doorley, Duncan Chisholm and Tony Byrne - here. This quartet of violinists, stars in their own right, are worth the entrance fee alone for the crowd in attendance. If anyone needs proof of how vibrant our traditional music scene is, look no further than Cuirm @ Celtic: Julie Fowlis.

The wonderfully diverse in-concert series continues on February 15th with Stockton’s Wing, a trad band who dominated the folk scene of the 1980s and 90s, achieving major international success. Developing a folk-pop sound around Mike Hanrahan’s original songs, they took traditional music and made their own sound, influencing an entire generation of Irish musicians.

Mike Hanrahan returns to the Celtic Connection stage with founder members, Paul Roche and Tommy Hayes, plus fiddler Dezi Donnelly and Enda Scahill on banjo and mandolin. The pioneering Blazin’ Fiddles have revolutionized fiddle music and have taken old and new tunes to stages all over the world.

This formidable cast of musicians celebrated their 15th anniversary in 2013, but show no signs of ageing and they aren’t about to rest their fiddles yet. Despite their own accomplishments, they remain fans of Stockton’s Wing and join musical heroes onstage for a few tunes.

The fourth and final programme on February 22nd upends preconceived notions of where a concert ends and cèilidh dancing begins. Renowned accordionist Alasdair MacCuish and top Shetland fiddler Chris Stout channel magic to our screens through a night of songs and tunes to make something for the head and for the feet.

The Great Gathering sees a brilliant ensemble cast of contemporary musicians taking to the stage of the Old Fruitmarket for a mix of high-octane contemporary folk and ceilidh music.

Cuirm @ Celtic is produced by Bees Nees Media for BBC ALBA with the first programme in the four part series being broadcast on Saturday 1st February at 9pm and subsequent programmes following each Saturday thereafter.