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In April 2017, the Transatlantic Sessions crew foregathered across the Pond for their very first US tour, a total sellout including a headline slot at MerleFest. Country Standard Time reported what Celtic Connections audiences have long since known, extolling the show as “a sterling, invigorating and immensely satisfying night of music” before concluding: “It doesn’t get much better than this.”
Helmed as ever by its seasoned US and Scottish musical directors, 14-time Grammy-winning dobro master Jerry Douglas and iconic Shetland fiddler Aly Bain, 2018’s line-up features another carefully blended array of first-time and return guests.
Among the US contingent, longtime country queen Suzy Bogguss recently celebrated 25 years since her platinum-selling breakthrough album Aces, re-recording it as Aces Redux, while Muscle Shoals duo The Secret Sisters, aka Lydia and Laura Rogers, triumphantly overcame record-label tribulations with 2017’s Brandi Carlile-produced You Don’t Own Me Anymore, showcasing their sublime, alchemical harmonies amid strains of Southern gospel, bluegrass and swing.
Arkansas-born multi-instrumentalist and producer Shawn Camp, revered for his work with Loretta Lynn, John Prine and Guy Clark alongside his solo output, also features with Douglas in the Flatt & Scruggs-inspired supergroup Earls of Leicester, which Acoustic Guitar magazine called “as perfect as bluegrass gets.”
A similarly stellar Celtic team includes multi-award-winning Dubliner Daoirí Farrell, hailed by Dónal Lunny as “one of the most important traditional singers to emerge in the last decade”, and North Uist native Julie Fowlis, whose stunning new album alterum sees the groundbreaking Gaelic singer forging her own transatlantic connections, with its guests including Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Providing the singers with ultimate dream-team accompaniment, together with resplendent instrumental sets, are are regular house-band luminaries Phil Cunningham, John Doyle, Danny Thompson, Michael McGoldrick, Russ Barenberg, John McCusker, Donald Shaw and James Mackintosh.