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A musical marathon

​A distinct pall of quiet lay across much of Glasgow’s musical community today – or what remained of today, once last night’s hurly-burly was eventually done – after another marathon Showcase Scotland weekend, as 200 international music-biz movers and shakers, glutted on a five-day feast of the finest Scottish music, began their journeys home. Some kind of special prize must surely be due to Ross Ainslie – and to his ever-faithful cohort Ali Hutton – for completing a truly marathon shift between Saturday and Sunday, comprising five gigs within about 36 hours: firstly the big Treacherous Orchestra show at the Concert Hall, followed by another slot with them in the Festival Club. Less than 12 hours later, it was the lunchtime première of Ainslie’s New Voices commission, Remembering, and then on to the Strathclyde Suite for his gig with Jarlath Henderson – both of these also involving Hutton – before finally wrapping it up about 1am with a Festival Club reprise for some of his New Voices material. That’s some serious devotion to duty: hats off, guys.

And to judge from the late-night sample we heard, as well as glowing reports from those who made the earlier official gig, Ainslie’s New Voices compositions, especially the songs he’s written – his debut venture in this direction – are just great. Especially delivered by such a cracking band, with Ainslie and Hutton plus Hamish Napier, Laura-Beth Salter, Laura Wilkie, Gordon Duncan Jr, James Lindsay, John Somerville and Matheu Watson all collectively wreathed in smiles as they played them one more time – for now: plans are apparently afoot to record the project soon, so here’s hoping this is another New Voices that enjoys an extended lifespan.

It was another excellent night’s music all round at the club, with performances too from the Adam Sutherland Band and Orkney duo Saltfishforty, who’d already performed as part of The Chair up at the Fruitmarket. At least, they’re usually a duo, but this time included a drummer – for the somewhat un-rock’n’roll reason that fiddler Douglas Montgomery has recently had a toenail removed, and so couldn’t use his usual stomp-board. He also had to catch a 7am flight home this morning – having gone onstage at the Art School well after 2 – but his trademark ear-to-ear grin never wavered. And at least the rest of The Chair had been pleased as punch earlier when Celtic Connections became the first festival ever to meet their routine rider request for a football – with the Fruitmarket probably providing a decent space for a kickabout once they’d done their sound-check. The band’s guitarist, though, probably spent the time rehearsing his cover-story for when he got home, having arrived in Glasgow the previous day in time to take his instrument for a few necessary repairs ahead of the gig. “The only thing is, I seem to have bought a replacement as well,” he confided. “For probably about the price of quite a nice car. . .”

Rounding off the festival club’s line-up until this Friday were Irish fusion project ALDOC, who themselves became the first ever act to ask the stage crew there for a DJ’s deck-stand. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it wasn’t a bit of kit they had to hand, but our unflappable techies took it all in stride: “We just cobbled one together out of old mike-stands and bits of wood”.

By the end of the night, the weekend’s toll was evident in a good many droopy eyes and thousand-yard stares, both around the Art School and back at the Holiday Inn, where one exhausted festival staffer was in such danger of falling fast asleep before her taxi came that a musician friend resorted to playing a kids’ clapping game with her – the one with the song that starts, “A sailor went to sea, sea, sea/To see what he could see, see, see”. Worked a treat, too – they ended up remembering verses we never knew existed, as well as all the hand actions.