Dear Jerry, Phil & Aly
I didn’t know anything about, or appreciate, Celtic, folk or Americana a few years ago. Any opinion I had was formed by Ceilidh bands at weddings and a preconception that such music was enjoyed by the characters in Katy Morag and the folk in Whisky Galore.
A few years ago, my father-in-law bought tickets for all of us for Transatlantic Sessions at Celtic Connections. I thought that I was going along to a night of wailing and fiddle scratching.
The night opened with a line of chairs occupied by various instrument wielding folk and what even I noted as being an excited atmosphere. I did recognised Phil & Aly but the rest were strangers to me.
I can’t remember the first tune that was played that night, but I can tell you the effect it had on me. I was instantaneously converted into being a fan. The passion was infectious. The reels were bouncing and energetic. The underlying chord progressions were delightful but not predictable (at least not to my ignorant ears). There was a depth to the music which resonated through me.
The friendly interplay, the talent on show, the breadth of the musical style, the lungs on those singers and the way it all just fell together was an experience I’ll never forget. The night rollercoasted on and, three hours later, I was the world’s newest celtic music fan.
Since that first gig, I’ve gone on to discover the music of Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker, Russ Barenberg, Cara Dillon, Karen Matheson, Tim O’Brien, Sharon Shannon, Eddi Reader, Dan Tyminski and many others. (My wife and father-in-law have also been shepherding me in the right direction).
Now, we go to Transatlantic Sessions once every other year, and another big gig in the intervening years, like last year’s gig with The Chieftains.
Last Sunday’s Transatlantic Sessions was incredible. The opening tune just brought it all back. There is no finer place to be to listen to this amazing music. Everyone was on form and it was great to discover music from John Paul White and Tift Merrit, and to enjoy the performance from Jim Lauderdale.
While, with such beautiful music on show, it may seem unnecessary to pick out a favourite, but I did particularly enjoy Phil Cunningham’s composition. Not for the first time, his music has been the high point of the night, with its honest melody and emotional swells. As Jerry Douglas put it, there wasn’t a dry seat in the house!
I always leave Transatlantic Session inspired, but with a hint of sadness that it’s over. Luckily, the large amount of fans around the globe have ensured that there is plenty of content on Youtube which shows up following search for Transatlantic Sessions.
So, thank you. Thanks for doing this. It’s clear that you are having a great time, so I think it’s only fair that this audience member reciprocates and lets you know that I had a belter of an evening too. I can’t wait until next time.