Blues are back in town

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INDULGING in an altogether healthier form of blues is always easier to do in Glasgow come January.

The miserable month is brightened somewhat by the city’s annual folk festival, Celtic Connections — and with it being the 20th anniversary, there’s plenty to tempt you out into the cold.

The theme for 2013 is retrospective — looking back at 20 years of success, and the artists who have helped to shape it. The opening concert will reflect this by inviting seasoned performers on stage, many of whom were involved in the original line up.

Expect nostalgic appearances from fiddler Duncan Chisholm — the first musician to perform at the festival — and Celine Donoghue, who inspired the event’s education programme.

Joining them are artists wide and varied, including The Mavericks, Carlos Núñez & the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Roddy Hart and the Lonesome Fire, Aimee Mann, Eddi Reader and hundreds more.

But another important strand is the celebration of artists who have grown up with — and in to — Celtic Connections, epitomised in the New Voices strand of the bill.

The festival encourages a focus on collaboration and camaraderie — bringing together high profile artists from the worlds of folk, roots and rock for a number of genre-bending shows.

And there is, as always, a subtle nod to the use of folk in Glasgow’s celebrated Indie scene — showcased by Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire, who have chosen to launch their new EP at this year’s Celtic Connections.

Topping it all off is a collection of events celebrating Scottish bard Robert Burns — fitting, perhaps, as we look ahead to Burns Night at the end of the month.

With three weeks’ worth of events crammed into our fair city, it would be impossible to mention everything going on in this year’s Celtic Connections.

Instead, it’s fair to say that this jewel in the city’s cultural crown is well worth investigation — and it’s the perfect antidote for Glasgow’s grey winter.

n Celtic Connections runs January 17 – February 3. Full programme and ticket info available at www.celticconnections.com.