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No rest for the wicked

If ever you wondered why the phrase ‘no rest for the wicked’ was invented…There was Phil Cunningham late yesterday afternoon, walking past the Concert Hall stage door, sights firmly fixed on a leisurely dinner in front of EastEnders (Phil’s a massive ’Enders fan, seemingly) before an early night, after a supersized weekend of living it large, mainly in cahoots with Québécois partner in crime Yves Lambert. Unfortunately for this tantalising vision of temporary festival respite, Phil was spotted by a pal who was working on last night’s Alliance Scotland concert at the hall, and before he knew it had been roped in to play piano with one of the featured singers. Then once inside the building, he bumped into Eddi Reader, who insisted he go on with her, too – and eventually poor old Phil ended up playing nearly half the show. Next time he wants a night off, maybe he should consider a disguise – or maybe just steer well clear of Celtic Connections venues.
 
Reports continue to trickle/dribble in from Sunday night/Monday morning’s small-hours saturnalia at the Festival Club/Holiday Inn - ‘saturnalia’ being aptly defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘an occasion of wild revelry or indulgence’. One of the acts playing Monday’s schools concert, for instance, had somehow found themselves still in the bar as their sleep window – ahead of an 8am soundcheck – dwindled away to almost nothing, and let’s just say it’s just as well they didn’t have to drive anywhere until considerably later in the day. Not that their audience of P1-P3 youngsters would have known, consummate seasoned professionals that these nameless musicians are (they also managed to squeeze in a brief but precious nap between soundcheck and show), but the truth beneath their typically polished performance definitely warranted at least a PG certificate.
 
Tomorrow sees another of Celtic Connections’ free ‘Wee Pop-Up’ sessions at Walkabout on Renfield Street, with Woodenbox and Randolph’s Leap each playing short sets from 3pm, ahead of their appearance as part of Sunday’s Olive Grove Records Showcase at Òran Mór – which itself starts at the unusually early hour of 5.30pm, just as a wee reminder to anyone who’s going: that’s how packed this home-grown programme is. There may well be at least one more Wee Pop-Up next week, look out for details posted on the festival’s Facebook page – this being just one of the many things you can enjoy at Celtic Connections for free, which also include the daily Danny Kyle Open Stage at Adelaide’s on Bath Street, and a liberal array of BBC-hosted events for which tickets were made in available in advance.
 
Online information will be more important than ever during the rest of this year’s festival, since for the first time in its history, the paper programmes had all but run out within the first few days, despite the print run having been a healthy 130,000, and the past few years’ overall attendance having remained largely stable. So if you’ve got a brochure, hang onto it; if you’ve got a sizeable stash, maybe bring a few back to the Concert Hall, and if you haven’t got one at all, our apologies: we are printing additional copies of the day-by-day pullout guide, and full concert details are available on our website.
 
Lastly today, just a wee bit extra info on the Friends of Plockton Music School weekend sessions in Waxy O’Connor, as flagged up in yesterday’s bulletin: besides the craic, the aim is for the hosting group to drum up a bit of cash for the cause, via a collection tin and/or recruiting new members, with everything they raise going to support touring, album production and instrument purchase by Plockton students – all areas that suffered budget cuts after the school’s threatened closure in 2011.