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Several states of disarray

​One advantage of Celtic Connections over more outdoor-based summer festivals is that you don’t have to get literally down and dirty to enjoy the music, with none of that camping, sitting on the ground or mud malarkey involved. Ten days into Celtic, though, you wouldn’t know it from the state of disarray characterising some folk who’ve been at it throughout that time. Ross Wilson, aka Blue Rose Code – who took a starring role in last night’s magnificent Roaming Roots Revue, ahead of his own gig next weekend – spoke for many when he tweeted earlier, “Honestly, only a week @ccfest and already I look like I've fallen over in at a jumble sale. Need to get myself to a launderette…” One of his respondents certainly concurred, admitting that he’d had to travel home in waterproofs, having completely run out of other wearable attire.


Orkney’s Saltfishforty, after their incandescent warm-up set at the Festival Club on Friday, took their mission of expanding the folk-duo format’s parameters to a whole new level at their Strathclyde Suite show, which culminated with no less than 11 people onstage. Along with other luminaries as Tim O’Brien, Kris Drever and Greg Lawson, the presence of Skye-based trombone maestro Rick Taylor was explained by Saltfishforty’s Brian Cromarty has having arisen from a Damascene revelation during his recent honeymoon visit to New Orleans: “I got there, and I just realised that the trombone is where it’s at,” he said, albeit still wielding his own collection of plucked string instruments. His partner in crime, fiddler Douglas Montgomery, was beaming even more broadly than usual – if that’s possible – at getting to play with so many of his favourite musicians. “I still feel like I’m dreaming,” he said. “Don’t bother waking me up.” A first encore having failed to satiate their baying audience, they came back a second time to round things off with Motörhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ (inciting a conga line around the venue), in tribute not only to the late lamented Lemmy, but their own original collaboration in an Orkney function band, The Silver Penguins, known for sneaking in the odd heavy metal classic among the ceilidh tunes and pop songs.


A few lines from one of Saltfishforty’s best-loved numbers, ‘Tea and Toast’, will surely have described the state of many revellers today, after another rip-roaring night at the Festival Club:
“Have you ever had that feeling
When you wake up on the ceiling,
You can’t believe it’s morning
‘Cause you just laid down your head…”


Among other highlights, the Art School witnessed the Peatbog Faeries turning the place into a euphoric, hands-in-the-air Celtic rave, complete with full lightshow, before Talisk finished things off in such scorching style that concertina player Mohsen Amini was almost literally wringing out his shirt afterwards. Some hardy souls continued on to a local hotel for more tunes, and were posting from there on Facebook well into the daylight hours – though regrets were creeping in for one or two when they then had to report for duty at the Waxy O’Connor’s session this afternoon: “I’d prefer death to this right now,” was one direct quote. Like the Good Book says (well, it is Sunday): “As ye sow, so shall ye reap…”