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Busy schedules

​Participating musicians at Celtic Connections may have loads of fun, but they are worked hard for it, as evinced by the sight of fiddler Patsy Reid hotfooting it from the West End to the Fruitmarket around 9pm last night, after her gorgeous opening set at the Mackintosh Church, to form part of the string quartet who featured among Le Vent du Nord’s array of special guests. Also joining our Québécois friends’ sellout party were the one and only Sharon Shannon (going head-to-head in some jaw-dropping accordion duels with the band’s Réjean Brunet), Julie Fowlis, Emily Smith (both singing in French as well as their native tongues), Megan Henderson (on fiddle, piano and stepdancing) and cellist Christine Hanson – prompting Donald Shaw to tweet, “just my opinion, but tonight's gig is one of THE most amazing shows @ccfest ever!”


Shaw had also previously been at the Mackintosh Church where the show’s dazzling and fascinating second half saw Indian violinist brothers Ganesh and Kumaresh Rajagopolan, with percussionist Anantha R Krishnan, performing first by themselves and then collaboratively with Scottish jazzers Trio AAB – another part-fraternal combo, featuring twins Tom and Phil Bancroft on drums and saxophone, plus guitarist Kevin Mackenzie. They too were on double duty, going for it big-style later on at the Festival Club, somewhat confounding elements in the audience with what Phil Bancroft described as “some pretty hardcore chromatic stuff”. Our source for this conversation originally heard “chromatic” as “traumatic” – to which Bancroft replied that yes, it very clearly was for some listeners - “but we certainly enjoyed ourselves.”


Talking of Shaw and Twitter, too, our esteemed artistic director was, briefly and bizarrely, being followed by none other than Gail Porter last night. Apparently she was in town for some reason, and tweeting to ask for nightlife suggestions, and someone replied that Donald would surely get her a ticket to the festival. The following then followed, for a while, and she was indeed duly invited along the Art School – but no further response was forthcoming. With Federation of the Disco Pimp finishing off the night in blistering style, completing a line-up that also included excellent sets from Qristina & Quinn Bachand and Lindsey Black, among others, all we can say is she missed hersel.


A good many tears have already been shed at Celtic Connections 2015, most of them during the unforgettable GRIT opening concert on Thursday night – but there were a fair few more, by his own ready admission, from Mike McGoldrick in response to almost the opening tune of Graham Mackenzie’s New Voices show earlier today – about which McGoldrick was effusive in his praise all round. What did for him was the story about Mackenzie, as a wee boy, composing a tune for the funeral of the grandfather who gave him his first fiddle – followed by its author playing said tune again, on that same three-quarter size instrument. Donald Shaw and Lesley Shaw, sat either side of McGoldrick in the audience, were apparently just pretending they’d no idea who he was.


Back at the Festival Club, this weekend has already claimed its first notable no-show the following day, when an artist due to be performing at lunchtime could not be located by his bandmates, despite numerous calls to both his own numbers and a chain of people around Glasgow who might know where he was/be able to rouse him. With said bandmates having given up to the point of rewriting the set to cut out his parts, and the sound engineer having even removed his chair and monitor onstage, he eventually graced them with his presence 10 minutes before the doors opened. And proceeded to play fine, by all accounts – but Mr Popular he was not.


There are clearly far too many people currently planning to be sensible tonight, as there are still plenty of tickets left on the door for the Festival Club. Being sensible at this stage is a flagrant dereliction of festival duty – especially when the delights in store include Mairearad & Anna, opening the show, and the spectacular California Feetwarmers, whose main Fruitmarket show is comprehensively sold out.