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Ceud Mìle Fàilte to Celtic Connections 2017

Ceud Mìle Fàilte to Celtic Connections 2017: we trust you’re ready and raring to go - we certainly are. . .
 
It’s hardly the most Celtic of earworms (although Donald or Jade could doubtless identify a connection somewhere), but somehow The Pointer Sisters’ 1980s hit ‘I’m So Excited’ has kept coming to mind as the week’s progressed. More widely, a counting-sleeps level of excitement has been palpably mounting on social media, across Scotland’s musical community and well beyond – it’s like Christmas all over again. Online pleas for tickets going begging to sold-out shows are already including words like ‘desperate’ – but despair ye not, there’s still a fabulous choice of other tickets still available. 
 
A good many artists have been added to the programme since the brochure went to print, including headliners, support acts and extra special guests - do check the website for these updates so far, and we’ll keep you posted on any more.
 
This year’s inaugural star, the sublime songstress Laura Marling, arrived yesterday morning to start rehearsals for tonight’s sellout opening gala, and her new arrangements featuring the BBCSSO have supplied tantalisingly beautiful background sounds to the ceaseless phone conversations, vying with rapid-fire keyboard clatter, taking place at Celtic HQ in the Concert Hall. Prior to this, though, “it was uncannily quiet in there,” reported one mainstay local artist, who called in on Tuesday to sort some admin. “Everyone seemed really, really calm – it was kind of unnerving, somehow.”
 
“It does go through phases,” acknowledges a core office team member. “All smooth for a while, everything coming together – then it all goes insane again, but you kind of learn to roll with it.”
 
Until the last couple of days, though, it was pretty much only the tiny year-round Celtic team beavering away, all in the one main office. As of yesterday, however, our treasured army of temporary and volunteer staff have been arriving in droves – also very excited, to a man and woman - igniting the big family-reunion/hug-fest vibe that’ll be filling the Concert Hall at least through this weekend, as we all settle in.
 
Each worker has their own allotted tasks within the larger, extremely well-oiled machine – like the half-dozen volunteers forming a tranquil production-line in another office, making up artists’ packs and passes. Or, even more crucially, the individual in charge of enabling this army to march on its stomach, who went around taking dozens of orders before arranging a mammoth takeaway delivery: that’ll be several restaurateurs rubbing their hands in glee at the Celtic kick-off, too.
 
The big BBC OB truck is now parked up outside stage door for the duration, and besides Ms Marling and her orchestra – thanks to whom backstage is already awash with instrument-cases – artists performing over the weekend have also begun arriving, with further impromptu rehearsals springing up around the building.
 
The Main Auditorium stage crew were up and at it early today, before the resplendent double bill of Fara and Mànran stole a march on Marling, as the actual opening acts of Celtic 2017, when they both regaled this year’s first full house of ecstatic local schoolchildren.
 
Along with the rest of the main concert programme, the Danny Kyle Open Stage will open its doors to the customary eager queue tomorrow, with 2017’s contenders chosen from almost 250 entrants – another record-breaking field – including punk, hip-hop and heavy metal acts. They’re coming from as far as Argentina and New Zealand, as well as Europe and throughout the UK, with hopefuls including a 14-piece fiddle band – which’ll be cosy - and a solo artist who plays saxophone, fiddle, djembe, guitar and cajon, “although not all at the same time, I don’t think,” says Open Stage organiser Liz Clark. STV Glasgow will be broadcasting performances most days over the next week, and Celtic Music Radio will again be a daily presence, also offering all acts’ sets on catch-up from the following day. Radio Scotland’s Travelling Folk, meanwhile, will be recording all six finalists on February 5th, for airing later in the year.
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In the meantime, though - let’s get this party started. Slainte!