Jan 20 2012 by Alison Anderson, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
TWO of the busiest musicians at this year’s Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow are Perthshire’s Patsy Reid and Ross Ainslie, who have established themselves as leading players on the traditional music scene
For the next three weeks these two 28-year-old rising stars face a dizzy schedule of rehearsals and performances – and the obligatory late night sessions! – in this unique festival which draws audiences and musicians to Scotland from around the globe.
PA Arts put Ross and Patsy in the spotlight as they prepare to take their places among the 2100-plus musicians playing in 20 Celtic Connections venues in Glasgow until February 5.
“HOW lucky we are to have this on our doorstep,” says Patsy Reid. “There’s no other festival like it for traditional music. Artists speak about it worldwide.”
Patsy’s playing an impressive seven gigs at this year’s Celtic Connections. The award-winning fiddle player from Knapp in East Perthshire said: “It’s certainly the highlight of my working year, and my social one as well. I’ll be chasing my tail from one rehearsal to the next but its absolutely fantastic.”
She joins other top instrumentalists and three of today’s finest Gaelic singers for a collaborative concert entitled ‘Cuairt nan Eilean’ (‘a tour around the islands’) in St Andrew’s in the Square tonight, followed closely by harpist Ailie Robertson’s cross-genre Traditional Spirits in The Tron Theatre tomorrow evening.
Patsy concedes it’s quite bizarre that on Sunday she’s in Bristol starting a short tour of the Cecil Sharp Project, in which she joins top names from the English folk scene to explore the life and legacy of the seminal folk song collector Cecil Sharp.
“I’m very excited to be in this. When I was asked if I’d like to be involved I felt very humble and a bit nervous, but it works well and it’s wonderful that we can bring it to Celtic Connections as part of this short tour.”
Another trailblazing collaboration for Patsy is The Boy and The Bunnet – Scottish traditional music’s answer to Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, being given its inaugural Scots performance at Celtic Connections in The Tron theatre.
The 28-year-old musician – who remains the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship – revealed the Celtic Connections gig she is relishing most: “I’m most excited about playing with the Treacherous Orchestra. It’s the first time I’m in their line-up which is great because I really, really love the boys and their music.
“To be part of that on stage will be very, very exciting.”
Patsy is also in the ensemble for New Voices act Laura-Beth Salter.
Back home, Patsy is developing regular music sessions in Perth on Friday nights – watch this space for more info!
CELTIC Connections courses through the veins of the Perthshire man whom the festival’s artistic director Donald Shaw recently described as “one of the greatest pipers of his generation.”
Ross Ainslie (28) told PA Arts: “I’ve been brought up through it, going to see bands like Wolfstone since I was about 14, then when I was 17 Gordon Duncan took me to Celtic Connections and that was when I first met the boys I’m now playing with in Treacherous Orchestra.
“Treacherous Orchestra have played the festival four years in a row and the big gig for me this year is when we launch our debut album (February 4).”
Until then Ross has a heavy schedule of rehearsals and unscheduled sessions, the big Salsa Celtica gig next Friday, a TV show, a couple of pipe band slots, an exciting airing of his new Ross Ainslie Trio – with Perthshire’s Ali Hutton and top percussionist James Mackintosh, and a book signing of his new book of tunes called Ross Ainslie’s Homemade Tunes.
“The trio thing is good because we can go around little venues and hopefully some bigger festivals where we can add to the line-up,” said Ross.
While this multi-instrumentalist is at the heart of Scotland’s traditional music scene, he welcomes the opportunities Celtic Connections offers to broaden his horizons.
“Donald Shaw books lots of world music so it’s great to be able to meet and play with musicians from other countries and genres. It really tests you as a musician but its also for me the best thing about the festival.”
Ross was modest about Donald Shaw’s “greatest piper” compliment – yet for a young musician to have so much work lined up for the year with top bands Salsa Celtic and Treacherous Orchestra, and his own projects, plus his debut album in the pipeline, Ross Ainslie must surely be playing the right notes in the right places!
l For details of Celtic Connections go to www.celticconnections.com