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Fidget Feet fly out

​A fond farewell to our new Celtic friends from Ireland’s Fidget Feet Aerial Dance company and Hawk’s Well Theatre, whose four-night run with the spectacular The Second Coming came to an end at the Tramway last night, having won a chorus of fervent praise from audiences. Incorporating both traditional and contemporary dance, a computer-animated backdrop and breathtaking aerial sequences, with the tastiest of tunes from a band – including Mike McGoldrick, John Joe Kelly and Damien O’Kane – who’d have commanded a tidy ticket price just on their own, it proved again that Celtic Connections can expand seamlessly into other art-forms as well as music, when the show is right.

Another example this year is Michelle Burke’s highly successful trad/cabaret combo Step Into My Parlour, which has evolved by leaps and bounds since its genesis as an intimate two-hander at the Edinburgh Fringe three years ago, and tomorrow steps into its biggest parlour yet by far, settling in for the craic at the Old Fruitmarket. Mind you, the capacious space is just as well, given the list of guests who’ll be dropping by for a wee sherry and a biscuit, plus a song or tune, including Cathal McConnell, Kathleen MacInnes, Heidi Talbot, Gino Lupari, Will Pound and – just confirmed – the one and only Duke Special, who’s so newly added to the line-up that he’ll be flying in an hour before showtime: he might need a slightly larger sherry.

On the subject of audience feedback, there was one particular comment that stood out on Twitter today, applauding Celtic Connections as “a wee gem of a festival”. Now, we’re not ones to nitpick compliments, but are a mite curious as to which other festivals this person is attending, if 18 days, 150+ gigs and 2000-3000 performers counts as “wee”.

Those totals include a major treat tomorrow for fans of both Latin and dance music, as the brilliant Brazilian MC, singer and songwriter Criolo makes his Celtic Connections debut. On the strength of his breakthrough album Nó na Orelha, he’s gone from cult-hero status in São Paulo’s hip-hop underground to boasting a million fans on Facebook, and will be performing at the O2 ABC with a full live band, plus artfully contrasting support from Scotland’s own very wonderful Withered Hand.

By contrast again, Carlos Núñez is a long-established festival favourite, and there are still some tickets left for his Concert Hall show tomorrow, showcasing his latest project The Atlantic Corridor, which recently saw him visiting bagpipe strongholds in Scotland to explore the theory that the instrument first arrived here via Núñez’s native Galicia. The concert also features formidable Scottish firebrands Rura, both performing with Núñez and previewing their own forthcoming second album.

In previous round-ups of the weekend’s various happenings, mention was omitted of The Bevvy Sisters’ delectable singing session in the Holiday Inn bar on Sunday night, following their sellout Fruitmarket show with the California Feetwarmers, and featuring Tom Bancroft on table percussion, amongst other accompaniment. It was also notable for being interrupted, just after midnight, by one of that hostelry’s more random/unexpected Celtic punters so far this year, namely a middle-aged transvestite in a vintage pink dress. She also turned out to be a long-ago published poet, whose handbag just happened to contain a copy of said publication, and who proceeded to recite a few verses in honour of one of the Bevvies’ newly-commenced Monday birthday.

It’s one of Celtic Connections’ more glaring ironies that many of the people working hardest to deliver all this fabulous music often get to see hardly any of it, or at least to see it undistracted. One such, for instance, is Late Night Sessions and Hazy Recollections host Findlay Napier, who also exemplifies the rapid adaptation of sleep patterns demanded by many key festival roles. Being the father of a small child, he routinely starts his day punishingly early, regardless of working into the small hours, and so doesn’t get to many gigs because that 7-10pm period, once the wee one’s in bed, is actually his most reliable window for some sorely-needed shuteye.

Even such a seasoned multi-tasker as Napier, though, was forced to accept on Saturday that he couldn’t actually be in two places at once, his presence being most importantly required in the Strathclyde Suite that night, to launch his stonking new album Very Interesting Persons. His sibling Hamish was duly enlisted to run the first hour or so of the Late Night Sessions instead, with Findlay arriving halfway through one of the featured acts – such that they were introduced onstage by one brother, and shown off it by the other, but apparently just clocked the shiny-pated resemblance, and didn’t even realise.

The elder Napier also displayed above-and-beyond devotion to duty around 1am or so the following night, where the tail-end Sunday crowd in the Exhibition Hall had dwindled to maybe a dozen, and there were no more acts lined up. Those last dozen, however, had just bought a big round of drinks, so Findlay got up onstage himself and sang for 20 minutes or so, to keep them entertained as they supped up: that’s what you call quality customer service.