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A terrible racket

​The Holiday Inn's front desk received an irate phone call the other day from a – presumably non-Celtic – guest, protesting that someone was making "a terrible racket" in the room next door: could they please be told to desist. The receptionist enquired as to which was the offending room, and was told, "Just come up to the third floor – you'll hear it". Upon leaving the lift, the staff member sent to investigate could indeed hear the sound of fiddle music from down the corridor – it turned out to be Aly Bain, running through some sets for the weekend's Transatlantic Session shows, his famously full tone and full absorption in his work resulting in what our complainant deemed excessive volume; he was more than obliging about toning it down.

Anyone averse to the sound of the Highland bagpipes might be as well to avoid the Holiday Inn over the next few days, after members of the 78th Fraser Highlanders arrived from Canada earlier today, ahead of Saturday afternoon's once-in-a-lifetime Live in Ireland 87 show. Heralded as perhaps the greatest piping concert Celtic Connections has ever hosted, it brings together past and present members of that illustrious band – the first ever non-Scottish outfit to win the Grade 1 title at the World Pipe Band Championships, just days after the landmark live recording in Ballymena to which the show's title refers – with the crème de la crème of Scottish piping. The drum corps were rehearsing earlier in one of the hotel's function rooms, while band members took turns to sign around 50 squares of Northern Irish linen laid out on a table in the corridor, to be sold to help cover the Canadians' costs for the trip: bringing a full-sized pipe band and special guests, plus all their kit, over the Pond doesn't exactly come cheap, especially given that these are all non-professional musicians, despite their world-class ranking. We could be in for some truly mighty sessions in the bar…

Showcase Scotland 2016 is now fully under way, with a full-capacity 184 music-industry delegates finding their way around Glasgow to sample the very best of Scottish music – as well as six highly diverse acts from France, this year's Showcase international partner, with whom we're thoroughly enjoying rekindling the Auld Alliance. Despite Glasgow's vastly improved culinary reputation in recent years, our Gallic friends understandably wished to ensure that their own national standards were maintained when they host a delegates' reception tomorrow – so they're providing their own wine, and what's described as a small truckload of specially imported cheese. Once suspects that this particular Showcase agenda item will be especially well-attended. 

As the last weekend looms, and some of us have now been at this for two weeks solid, we're hearing more and more stories from Glasgow residents – festival staff and musicians alike – about usually neat and orderly homes steadily coming to resemble the aftermath of a tornado, with each day's clothes and other accoutrements being simply flung aside as fresh necessities are grabbed, between snatched hours' sleep and hectic daily schedules stretching well into night-time. Combined with the toll taken on one's mental faculties, not least memory, the inability to find key belongings at home – particularly small ones, like pick-ups or pedals or other vital bits of electronic gear – is becoming endemic, although one local multi-instrumentalist has come to learn that her default location for unwittingly flinging such items seems to be among the shoes at the bottom of her wardrobe: she now saves times by looking there first.

There have been many proud parents among Celtic Connections audiences over the past fortnight, watching their musical progeny perform, and none prouder, it seems, than English folk heroine Linda Thompson, who was in attendance her boy Teddy wholly captivated the Concert Hall, and posted delightedly today: "My son played a blinder last night in Glasgow. The best concert he's ever given. He played to a huge crowd, and slayed them. Just about the best bit. The sound guy came backstage to tell Teddy what a genius singer he is. I'm talking about a Glaswegian sound guy people. Praise indeed. Everyone at Celtic Connections does a great job. A truly wonderful Festival. Well planned, well cast and well executed. Talking of executed Teddy mentioned Edinburgh onstage last night, and lived to tell the tale." As the last comment suggests, for any Scottish fans who missed him here, Thompson Jr returns to play the capital in May.

And in further proof that Celtic Connections reaches parts of the country that other festivals cannot reach, we spotted the following post from one of Scotland's remotest communities, observing that "The varying mass exodus from Knoydart this past three weeks can be blamed on Celtic Connections" – albeit that 'mass' is a relative term when you're talking about a resident population of only around 100. Still, it's a long way to come – but we reckon it'll have been worth the trip.