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Transatlantic Sessions, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow - 6th Feb 2007
Review by Jim Gilchrist, The Scotsman **** (4 Stars)

CELTIC Connections' closing bash reiterated the festival's "hands-across-the-water" theme with an exuberant amalgam of Old and New Worlds, presided over by the appropriately well-travelled Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and US slide guitar virtuoso Jerry Douglas, whose plangent, steely tones were rarely absent from the proceedings.

With as many as 18 artists on stage, instrumentalists included accordionist/pianist Donald Shaw, Irish piper and flautist Michael McGoldrick, Bain's long-time playing partner Phil Cunningham and, from the US, guitar ace Russ Barenberg and old-time fiddler Bruce Molsky, all underpinned by bass and drums.

Some ocean-spanning reels contrasted with a "a wee waltz" by Cunningham which allowed the Bain fiddle to sing. Among the singers fronting this formidable assembly were Winnipeg's Wailin' Jennys harmony trio plus fiddler, who were really only getting warmed up on their third and last number. Just one song, sadly, from Molsky, whose high and lonesome holler sounded over his spare fiddle strains. Rosanne Cash, proudly declaiming Fife ancestry, did rollicking justice to one of her late father's finest, Tennessee Flat Top Box, although her encore, Forty Shades of Green seemed a strangely schmaltzy choice.

Irish guitarist and singer John Doyle sang an unadorned but heartfelt version of Banks of the Bann, while from Scotland, Rod Paterson gave us Burns's auld wives' anthem, We're A' Noddin' jogging along convivially to a sly reggae rhythm (a nod indeed to Burns near-emigration to Jamaica); while Karen Matheson delivered a wildly skipping stream of Gaelic mouth music over a taut thrum of guitars and piano.

Nashville's Darrell Scott was in particularly eloquent form, with a showstopper in his rendition of the old standard Cottonwood, his guitar sparring with Douglas's dobro in a no-holds-barred hoedown.

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