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It’s that time of year

Thursday 17 January 2013, 16:16

Ricky Ross Ricky Ross Presenter

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I’m very fond of Loudon Wainwright III. One time he sang, ‘Suddenly it’s Christmas, right after about halloween. Forget about Thanksgiving it’s just a buffet in between.’  And you know what he means. No sooner have you notice the dark nights coming in than you see the wee guys from the council up on cherry pickers hanging neon decorations from the lamp posts. I’ve always tried to run the ‘let’s do it every two years’ flag up the pole…but it’s never been saluted. Fair enough too. When we were kids we wanted it every three months. But there is a dark overhang in January.

In Glasgow they did something about that 20 years ago and they liked the atmosphere so much that they’ve kept it going every year since. Celtic Connections is in its 20th year and it’s bigger, louder but just as interesting and rewarding as ever.

It’s great news for us at The AC. We stock-pile interviews as the artists travel through town and get as many sessions and conversations as we can so we can play them out throughout the next few months. There’s lots of familiar AC artists in too: The Mavericks, Sara Watkins, Ben Knox Miller, JD McPherson and Old Crow Medicine Show will all be appearing over the next 18 days or so. We’ll have our own floor show next week when we will be welcoming some great guests.

This week we will play music by musicians appearing at the festival including John Fullbright (who you will be hearing much more about soon), those above mentioned Mavericks, Cowboy Junkies oh and so much more. However over and above that there is a reason to gather round the wireless on Friday which supercedes all I have already said. On Friday our guest will be the man we’ve been trying to chase down for the last three years.

Ricky Ross and Josh Tillman

The wonderful Josh Tillman (aka J Tillman) or as he’s now known Father John Misty. We will talk Laurel Canyon, Fleet Foxes  - he was one till very recently – the lost solo Josh albums, religion (there’s lots of that) and the joy that is Fear Fun – the debut FJM album. It’s a wild ride but totally entertaining at every turn, believe me. It all starts on Friday evening at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.

On Sunday…

I meet up with this woman.

Maggie Cunningham Until a couple of years ago she was deputy head of BBC Scotland. Now Maggie Cunningham advises high flyers on where to go next. We’ll talk to her about her life away from the BBC, her take on how she’d advise the corporation in the wake of the Saville crisis and how she reacts to all of this now she’s like all of us, a listener and a viewer. We’ll find out about her hopes for the Gaelic language in her role as chair of MG Alba, the body responsible for overseeing Gaelic broadcasting in Scotland. Maggie will bring in some of her own favourite music and will be the best person we can imagine  to follow on from last week’s discussion on mid-life crises as she’s had the courage to take a whole new direction in her life. Knowing her as I do, I’m certain you will love spending some time in her company.

We'll look at  the Prayag Magh Mela which happens every year in India at the confluence of the Yamuna and Ganges rivers. However as this is 2013 it will be special this year. The Kumbh Mela only happens every twelve years and we speak to someone who has been there. Stephen Reicher, Prof of Social Psychology at St Andrews has taken part in a large collaborative study looking at the power of the collective event and the role that can play in your life. He conducted his study at the Kumbh Mela. That’s the beauty of Sunday mornings we find the people who’ve done amazing things so you don’t have to…unless, of course, you want to. If you do you can let us know in the usual way sundaymorningwith@bbc.co.uk

Over the last two years Syria has effectively been in a state of civil war. There are a million stories from that country which would break your heart but this Sunday we ask the question, ‘What has happened to the Syrian Christians?’ Syria was at the heart of events in the earliest days of the church and the lasting presence of Christians and ancient devotional sites makes the country a strong pull for Christian pilgrims until very recently. We speak to Rev. Paolo Dall’Oglio, an Italian Jesuit who spent the last 30 years in Syria before being expelled by the authorities last year.

We will also celebrate another Folk Saint. Bob Dixon tells the story of Jim Punton – radical evangelical, minister, youth worker and the inspiration to a generation of Christian Youth Workers. As well as all of that I celebrate Celtic Connections commencement with a wide selection of songs from many of the great artistes appearing at the festival. It all starts at 7 on Sunday Morning on BBC Radio Scotland and you can, of course, now download all the best bits as a podcast.

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