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Happy faces

​There was no shortage of happy faces at the Flying Duck last night, as the mighty Mystery Juice delivered a monstrously epic set for the Folkytown crowd – even if a few visiting Showcase Scotland delegates seemed a little perplexed by the band’s thunderously filthy mash-up of funk, blues, rap and punk (plus perhaps a soupçon of death metal), where they’d been expecting, you know, folk music. Donald Shaw was loving it, though, bopping merrily away, while Ross Couper, who’d never witnessed the immensity of the ’Juice before, was rendered as close as he gets to speechless with admiration. For many, the most striking element was the transformation of singer/fiddler Tim Matthew from cheery mild-mannered sound engineer to roaring, incandescent rock god – while the fact that he broke his distortion pedal during the gig gives you an idea of the spectacular sonic blitz involved.

By far the biggest, beamingest smile in the place, though, belonged to Rura guitarist Adam Brown, who’d earlier played a stonker of a set with his colleagues in the Concert Hall, opening for Carlos Núñez with a tantalising taster of their forthcoming second album Despite the Dark, due out in April. Plenty in itself to make any Celtic musician happy, but it almost dwindled to insignificance next to the fact that - albeit unbeknownst to Brown at the exact moment – he became a first-time uncle roughly 15 minutes into the gig. His sister had in fact gone into early labour on Sunday, and yesterday afternoon things were at last approaching their conclusion. So Brown was on total tenterhooks for news, throughout both soundcheck and performance, though kept it largely quiet from his bandmates, reckoning there were enough nerves around ahead of the big gig. Once offstage and back on the phone, though, he finally heard the tidings of his niece’s safe arrival, a bouncing baby girl of 9lb 15oz (oooft), both she and mum doing just grand. That’s one baby whose head was very thoroughly wet last night.

In amongst the craic, there was a fine story told at the bar by a certain award-winning Glasgow-based musician, recounting how he was recently visiting his highly respectable, teetotal mother at Christmas. Our man is something of an ale connoisseur, and was touched by his parent’s consideration when she said she’d bought him a special bottle of beer – something German, she thought; she’d just gone for the most expensive one. Imagine his surprise and delight when it turned out in fact to be not a bottle of beer at all but a rather stronger German libation, one that’s bizarrely popular with the younger folkies. He politely offered her a taste under its guise of a herbal digestif, and before he knew it, “I’d got my mum totally trollied on Jägermeister: not a day I ever thought I’d see.”

Back on the subject of ear-to-ear delight, the combined forces of Mairearad & Anna and Shooglenifty generated plenty of that earlier today when they played to 2000 P4 and P5 schoolkids at this morning’s Education Concert. Outbreaks of jumping, singing and even air bagpipes were reported, with one of the supervising teachers subsequently tweeting the performers: “You can’t get a better review than ‘Miss! This is awesome!’”

Lastly, just an early reminder as the weekend looms – the justly celebrated sessions hosted by Friends of Plockton Music School will be happening again from tomorrow in Waxy O’Connors: Friday 8pm-midnight; Saturday 2-4.30pm and 8pm-midnight; Sunday 3-7pm.