I’ve dreamed about traveling to Glasgow for the annual two week-long Celtic Connections music festival for a long time, and hope that can happen some time in the future. But I am happy to be able to experience this year’s festival from the comfort of my living room, albeit under the unfortunate circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you’re not familiar with the festival, here’s what they say about it on their website:

“Glasgow’s annual folk, roots and world music festival, Celtic Connections celebrates Celtic music and its connections to cultures across the globe.

From 15 January – 2 February 2021, due to the ongoing global pandemic, the festival will be delivered digitally for the very first time. Over 100 musicians will be streamed onto screens around the world for 19 days of exclusive concerts, workshops, and free events.”

https://www.celticconnections.com/about-celtic-connections/

On this weekend’s radio program, I’ll be playing three groups who will be performing at the festival: Christ Stout & Catriona McKay, Sian, and Shooglenifty. (Go to the Listen page in the main menu above for details on where and when to tune in to the show.)

Despite not having live audiences, Celtic Connections is still presenting a vast array of Celtic and other artists from around the world from January 15 to February 2, and it’s all online for viewing with the purchase of a Festival Pass or by purchasing individual concerts. You can book tickets through this How To Book page on their website. You can also find out what performances are taking place each day on the festival Calendar page. Performances are available for viewing at any time for one week after they premiere on the website.

I bought a full Festival Pass and watched the 90-minute Opening Night Celebration last night. It was full of brilliant performances by the Celtic Connections 2021 Big Band, Duncan Chisholm with Scottish Ensemble, Ímar, Fiona Hunter, Kinnaris Quintet, Le Vent du Nord, and special guests Karine Polwart, Sona Jobarteh, Xabier Diaz e Adufeiras de Salitre, and Elephant Sessions (along with some other surprise guests I know I’m missing!) Some of the performances were recorded in the usual festival venues in Glasgow while others were recorded from wherever the musicians are located. All of them had fantastic sound and visual production and gave you the feeling of being in the room with the musicians. I’m really looking forward to what’s in store over the next two weeks.

Watch this highlight video of Celtic Connections 2020 for a taste of what the festival has to offer. Seeing the joyous crowds in these scenes makes me miss going to live concerts even more. Here’s to when we can gather together again safely, friends!

I hadn’t heard of the New York City-based Latin boogaloo revival band Spanglish Fly until I came across their recent Tiny Desk Concert on the NPR Music website last week. I am so glad to have seen that! So glad, in fact, that I’ll be playing one of their songs on The Rhythm Atlas program that will air this weekend. (Go to the Listen menu above to find out how you can hear the radio show.)

As their website says, “Spanglish Fly is part band, part celebration: 12 musicians igniting a party that quickly spreads to the audience. Boogaloo! That mix of Latin and soul/R&B that emerged from the clubs, the street corners, the transistor radios and the pool halls of 1960s Spanish Harlem, “El Barrio.” Inspired by Latin boogaloo, or bugalú, Spanglish Fly plays irresistible grooves that blend Afro-Caribbean rhythms with the fervor, the feeling, and the harmonics of 60s soul.”

I also love what Felix Contreras, host of NPR Music’s Alt.Latino program, had to say about the band on the Tiny Desk concert page: “When the crew that is Spanglish Fly pulled in behind the Tiny Desk, the group’s vibrant version of boogaloo raised the temperature in the NPR Music offices quite a bit. Whether displaying their party spirit or even the slow burn of social consciousness on the song “Los Niños En La Frontera [The Children at the Border],” this band plays from the heart and engages both the mind and body.”

You can watch their performance here to get yourself boogalooing! And tune in to The Rhythm Atlas this weekend to hear Spanglish Fly and more fantastic music from all over the globe.