Transatlantic Sessions: “…roots that encompass Celtic and Appalachian music.”

Richard Lutz pulls up a chair for a handful of international musicians who always hit the mark

Transatlantic Sessions is a brand in itself these days. After years of stunning performances on late night BBC4, where they rented a Highland house and gathered in A-listers from the States, Britain and Ireland, they now travel, travel, travel.

The band members change. But the 15 strong group, which easily fills the Symphony Hall stage, remains a cut above other troubadours exploring what can loosely be called roots music.

And it’s Roots Stuff indeed. From Highland flings and the rhythms of Celtic culture, this evolution of styles traveled westward to create the base of rock, country, gospel, Texicana, western swing and America’s very own mountain music.

Dobro player Jerry Douglas (above, left) was the MC creating a Grand Old Opry mood with banter, crosschat and informal introductions. Eddie Reader, one of Scotland’s finest voices, provided touching Robert Burns ballads backed by the 15 member squad. Shetlander Aly Bain (above, right) and Phil Cunningham offered top class Island tunes from fiddle and accordion.

Music ranged wide and deep from classic Scottish reels to the Grateful Dead to the Stanley Brothers. American songwriter Tift Merritt brought her own brand of alt-country to the stage.

So, despite a couple of US-bred songwriters being a bit on the dirge and drear side of life,  five out of five stars and a grand tour of transatlantic music on show in a virtuoso evening.

Transatlantic Sessions play tonight at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. 


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