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There's a Black Moon On the Rise

Indian/international superstar composer A.R. Rahman, who arrived in town yesterday – from LA via London – for his concert with the BBC SSO tonight, is obviously enjoying a warm Glasgow welcome, having posted earlier on his Facebook page (which has well over 16 million followers): “First day’s impression - seems like the Scots are among the kindest people on earth.” And for Aly Bain, the sight of Glasgow’s South Asian community flocking en masse into the Concert Hall for the show, as Celtic Connections’ audience embrace extended further than ever, “was one of the nicest things I’ve ever seen.”
 
Given the onslaught they’ve had – and the final one they’re facing this weekend – it’s similarly touching to hear many of the staff at the Holiday Inn saying how much they’ve enjoyed the festival, how lovely almost everyone has been to deal with, and how they’re even looking forward to the last few days/nights’ mayhem. The appreciation is very much mutual.
 
Having flown in earlier this week from England, another festival headliner was met at the airport by one of the transport team, to be driven to his hotel, but told there’d be a slight delay while they waited for another artist’s flight. Upon learning that this second artist was Grammy-winning US singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin, arriving for her performances with the Transatlantic Sessions, the first excused himself and dived into the Gents, emerging a while later looking decidedly spruced-up and freshly coiffed, obviously hoping to make an impression on the way into town.
 
The last night of Folkytown at this year’s festival seemed relatively mellow when we dropped by around 2am – no half-naked men or anything - though there were a good few musicians claiming they shouldn’t be there at all, as they had an early rehearsal in the morning – but at least one other of their band members was also still there, so they were salving each other’s conscience. Mellow it may have seemed, but the night still seems to have produced an impressive list of lost property, including several phones (one of which was allegedly last seen doing Jägerbombs with Aidan O’Rourke’s scarf) and a jacket (last seen inside a cajon, which then unfortunately also went AWOL, though its owner did gain a fiddle), together with substantial quantities of wits and dignity. Hopefully at least the bare minimum among the above will be located in time to lose them all again during the last four nights of the Festival Club.
 
The House of Song also reopens its doors at the Holiday Inn later on for the last four nights of the festival, although on Saturday, due to a double booking at the hotel, hostess Doris Rougvie has opted to move it into the dining area off the main bar: just turn left instead of right as you come in the main door.
The Language of International Music – a phrase which sums up much of what Celtic Connections is all about – is also the title of a unique masterclass taking place at the Concert Hall on Saturday afternoon (in the Green Room, 3-4.30pm), hosted by Malian kora player Sidiki Diabaté and US guitarist Walter Strauss. Exemplifying the process which the festival does so much to facilitate, both formally and informally, they’ll be demonstrating and discussing how they themselves forged a richly fruitful collaboration using solely musical vocabulary.
Being charitable, the above-mentioned outbreak of lost possessions etc could perhaps be attributed to today’s rare combination of a ‘black Moon’ - a second new moon in the same month - and a ‘super Moon’, which sees the lunar orbit passing exceptionally close to Earth. (And this at a festival which began under a full Moon.) While a black Moon apparently renders any rituals, spells, or other workings cast under its sway more powerful and effective – which should bode well for anyone playing a gig tonight - a super Moon, according to one expert source, “can lead to extreme tides. Symbolically water represents emotion, so you may experience more extreme highs or lows under this super Moon phenomenon. With quirky Uranus aligning with this lunar equation, this may be a time of some chaos, but it also brings about the possibility for great change, innovation and invention.” Sounds pretty much like Celtic Connections’ final weekend to me...