The best of the fest

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Celtic Connections is in full swing...and jazz, and blues, and americana — you name it.

The music festival kicked off last Thursday — but the fun isn’t over yet, as it runs until February 1, getting music fans from home and abroad through the dreariest winter month with a tap in those snow-bitten toes.

This week’s highlights include Blood & Roses: The Songs of Ewan MacColl at the Royal Concert Hall on Sunday (January 25).

A pivotal figure in Britain’s folk revival, Ewan MacColl’s vast back catalogue is due for celebration to mark his centenary year — and there are stars lining up to pay tribute.

Paul Buchanan of Blue Nile fame was recently confirmed, joining Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy (of Waterson:Carthy fame), their daughter Eliza, Kate St. John, Dick Gaughan, Karine Polwart and Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker.

It’s a family affair too, with four of MacColl’s grandsons — Jamie MacColl of Bombay Bicycle Club, Harry Mead of Klangarussell, Alex and Tom MacColl — joining the line up, as well as sons Calumn and Neill (successful musicians in their own right) curating the concert.

Other dates for the calendar include The Campbell Brothers performing John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme at the Old Fruitmarket on Wednesday.

Alt-country star and Billy Bragg collaborator Jeff Tweedy takes up the mic at the concert hall on Thursday, alongside 18-year-old son Spencer.

And the same night sees Congolese band Konono No.1 take over the O2 ABC, merging world music with electronic and avant-rock strands using improvised instruments rescued from the junkyard.

Mark them in your diary and be sure to call into one of the after-hours festival clubs for a dram or two — tis the festival season, after all.

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