Golf and Scotland: the two naturally go together. So do Scotland and music. In a few days, Scotland, golf, and music converge — in Chicago.

The Ryder Cup, one of golf’s iconic events, sees teams from Europe and the United States compete. During the last days of September, the tournament will be played in Medinah, just outside Chicago. What will also happen is a series of events in music, put together by those who create the top music festival Celtic Connections in Glasgow, Scotland, each January.


As part of the Year of Creative Scotland, Celtic Connections is expanding its reach this year. In Illinois they will be programming musical performances through the duration of the Ryder Cup, including the Opening and Closing ceremonies. There will be two main concerts at the Ryder Cup. Transatlantic Sessions, a much loved and always highly anticipated sharing of music by artists from both sides os of the Atlantic at the Glasgow festival will have premiere performance in the US, and there will be a concert celebrating the best of Scottish musical talent.

Transatlantic Sessions will be showcasing at the Ryder Cup in Chicago on Wednesday 26th September in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millenium Park. Fiddle master Aly Bain, from Shetland in Scotland’s far north, and dobro legend Jerry Douglas from Nashville will be musical directors, as they often are for Transatlantic Sessions in Glasgow. Others taking part include Dan Tyminski, familiar to many as the voice of George Clooney in the film O Brother where art thou? and as a linchpin of Alison Krauss+Union Station, Grammy award winner Tim O’Brien, whose music crosses borders among folk, bluegrass, and Celtic, Dirk Powell, founder of the Louisiana Cajun group Balfa Toujours, and inventive old time fiddle player Bruce Molsky. From Scotland, top Gaelic singers Kathleen MacInnes and Karen Matheson will be there, and others confirmed to appear in this US premiere include accordion ace Phil Cunningham, Capercaillie’s Donald Shaw on piano, English folk legend Danny Thompson on bass, Irish piper Jarlath Henderson on uillean Pipes, guitarist Russ Barenberg, guitarist John Doyle and drummer James Mackintosh.

The second performance being programmed by Celtic Connections is a showcase of Scottish musical talent at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance on Saturday 29 September. Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis will be appearing fresh from performing on the soundtrack for Disney Pixar’s new animated 3D blockbuster Brave. Scottish super group Session A9 will be bringing their high energy, inventive sound to the stage, as will Glaswegian folk pop band Admiral Fallow. You might have heard this five-piece group when their music was featured in a General Electric commercial during the Super Bowl . This night at the Ryder Cup will kick start Admiral Fallow’s first North American tour.

Kathleen MacInnes, who appeared on the soundtrack to the Ridley Scott film Robin Hood, will bring her smoky voice and songs of her native South Uist in the Western Isles. The band Rura, who were recently named Best Up and Coming Act’ at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, will add there energy to the stage, and Scottish singer, songwriter, and accordionist Emily Smith. from Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland’s southwest, will add her clear voice and heartfelt songs to the evening.

Donald Shaw is artistic director of Celtic Connections. He sums things up: “The Ryder Cup is the ideal platform for the festival’s first overseas performance and this presents an unrivaled opportunity for new audiences to experience the best of what the Celtic Connections festival has to offer.”

photographs of Kathleen MacInnes, John Doyle, and Emily Smith were made at Celtic Connections in Glasgow with kind permission of the artists and the festival, and are copyrighted. thank you for respecting this.

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Kerry Dexter is one of six writers who contribute to Perceptive Travel’s blog. You will often find her writing about places, events, and people connected with music, history, and the arts in Europe and North America. You may find more of Kerry's work at her site Music Road as well as in Wandering Educators, National Geographic Traveler, Ireland and the Americas, and other places online and in print.

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