Event: Knots – The Unofficial Celtic Connections Fringe Festival 10th January, 2018

Every January, Celtic Connections takes over the city of Glasgow for three mellifluous weeks. Knots is a free day long festival taking place in the Art School on 27th January and constitutes a space in which some of the complex themes that arise from Celtic Connections can be unravelled. What are the connections between ‘Celtic’ culture and authenticity, tradition, ownership, exclusion and appropriation? Who is included or excluded by Celtic tradition and how do we navigate these issues in 2018?

Join us for an afternoon of workshops and conversations with speakers from Scotland and beyond, untying the tangled web of issues facing the contemporary Celt and exploring some of the many interlaced intricacies of Celtic tradition.

Stick around afterwards for an evening of performances from artists and musicians navigating the frayed fringes of the Celtic world, weaving all things left field, weird and noisy into colourful interpretations of the traditional. The event will be followed by a wild jam session for sharing the dingier depths of your repertoires well into the night!

Featured Artists and Speakers include…

Talk + Q&A – An Ecology of the Imagination: Suffering, Faerie and Some Farther Reaches of Human Being

Writer, activist and human ecologist Professor Alastair McIntosh grew up on the Isle of Lewis. His books include Hell & High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition on the cultural and spiritual dimensions of climate change, Rekindling Community on the spiritual basis of inter-relationship, and Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power on land reform and environmental protection – the latter described as “world changing” by George Monbiot, “life changing” by the Bishop of Liverpool and “truly mental” by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

This talk will draw on his latest book, Poacher’s Pilgrimage (Birlinn), to explore the artist’s role as healer as seen through the lens of faerie and PTSD.

Talk – Aggressive Anachronisms

Megan Jones is a medievalist based in Glasgow. Her research interests involve the post-medieval legacy and reception of the Middle Ages and the ideological potency of the period in modern discourses. She is currently investigating the malleable forms the Middle Ages take in contemporary culture, with a particular focus on the weaponisation of the period by racist/nationalist groups. Underpinning this is an interest in how the Middle Ages are taught and sold to the public and what steps can be taken to democratise them.

Following the death and violence of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August of 2017, the mainstream and alternative far-right’s use of the Middle Ages as an ideological tool has entered popular consciousness. As such, this discussion seeks to examine the rise of neomedieval and neo-Celtic tropes, rhetoric, and images as used by these far-right groups in post-9/11 North America, and to understand how neomedievalism and Celtic imagery are being weaponised to dismantle a multicultural future.

Talk: Keep Glasgow Weird: A whistle stop tour through the fringes of the folk scene

Stewart Smith is a music journalist and academic. A regular contributor to The Wire, The Quietus, The List and Bandcamp Daily, he covers jazz, improvised music and the Scottish underground. He completed his PhD on Ian Hamilton Finlay and Alec Finlay in 2016. His research interests include Scottish studies and alternative cultural histories, taking in modern poetry and the avant-garde, small press publishing, visual art and music. He currently teaches at Newcastle University.

Evening performance

Content warning: mental health, gendered violence, homophobia
Alasdair Roberts is a Glasgow-based musician, primarily a guitarist and singer. He has worked with Drag City Records since 1997, firstly releasing three albums of self-written material under the name Appendix Out and then several albums under his own name, the most recent being Pangs (2017). He has recently finished making a record with David McGuinness on piano and Amble Skuse on electronics, exploring eight traditional Scots ballads. Debbie Armour is a Glasgow-based musician who works in the fields of performance and community facilitation. She runs an open-access choir in Govanhill and is the lead artist for Wee Linties, an ongoing archive project of children’s song and games. She has a particular interest in traditional songs in Scots, English, Gaelic and other European languages.

In this unique performance, Alasdair and Debbie will share some traditional ballads and songs, discussing their research and repertoire selection processes. This will lead to an open conversation about how we navigate songs filled with triggering content- sexual violence, suicide, colonialism, transphobia and homophobia. Do we censor content or do we embrace the conversations they provoke?

DJ set and late night session lead

Kitty brings her weekly Subcity radio show Dangerous Songs to The Vic Bar to keep us company between acts. Playful and provocative, Dangerous Songs dissects the folk tradition both in America and the UK. From Blues to the Folk Revival of the 60s right up to the present day, Kitty explores folk music’s impact and meaning as a source of comfort, relief and freedom for the working classes who kept it alive, as well as its use as a tool of protest and activism. Later in the evening she will be leading our session.

Performance workshop and evening performance

Sgàire Wood is a Northern Irish artist and performer based in Glasgow. Specialising in emotive, drag-inspired lip-sync performance, her work explores issues of fragmented identity, nostalgia, nationality, mental illness and gender dysphoria. Combining high-energy remixes with fetishised elements of Celtic tradition, she deliberately confuses the folkloric with the hyper-modern, attempting to carve out an intimate space in club-environments for connection, catharsis and emotional exorcism.

Sgàire’s afternoon workshop will provide a relaxed and informal opportunity to consider the inherent performativity of identity expression and channel the thoughts and feelings that rise from this conversation, be they triumphant or traumatic, into personal, musical mini-performances.

Evening performance and daytime workshop

Quinie (Josie Vallely) is based in Glasgow and explores traditional Scots song. Inspired largely by Scots singers including Lizzie Higgins (1929-1993), her repertoire focuses on stories sung from women’s perspectives and collages of different source material. On her debut album, Vallely lends her keen, flinty voice to a cappella readings of great ballads, nonsense rhyme and arrangements of Scots words to sean-nós style melodies. Largely unaccompanied with occasional harmonium, dulcimer, and DIY beats providing scrapes, drones, and rhythms.

Evening performance

Oliver Pitt (Golden Teacher, Ultimate Thrush, Akashic records) is a Glasgow based musician. With a passion for strange and beautiful music, Ollie and Josie have been working together to combine traditional song with sporadic accompaniments on bouzouki, noises and general weird shit.

Evening performance

Ailbhe Nic Oireachtaigh is a viola player based in Dublin who aims to explore the versatility of the instrument primarily through experimental and improvised music. She combines minimalism, drone, stabbing atonal noise, buzzing textural examination, sawing riffing repetition, communal folk warmth and fluttery classicism. Her playing is virtuosic but unshowy, rapid and fluctuating but with a unity of purpose. She plays across Europe and Ireland with various groups, including Cian Nugent & the Cosmos, and has performed with Circuit des Yeux and Josephine Foster.

Installation and evening performance

Neil McDermott is a multi instrumentalist with fingers in loads of folk pies- represented at Knots by his recent visual work exploring the political folk song traditions in Scotland. He is interested in looking at the varied roles that music plays in conflict, in particular the musical protests to the Polaris and Trident submarine missile systems in the 1960s and 70s and the absence of any comparable protest to the commissioning of the Dreadnought class submarine, which will extend the presence of weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde by a generation. He will also being playing during the evening performance.