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We come here to share the music we love

​Leading the tributes to the one and only Rickie Lee Jones’s performance last night, no less an authority than 2015’s Scottish Album of the Year winner, Kathryn Joseph, called her an “amazing and beautiful woman of greatness”, adding also – in reference to Jones’s impromptu scavenging of her percussionist’s kit throughout the show – that “no one else could make a triangle sound sexy.”
 
The young Mull singer-songwriter Sorren Maclean was in seventh or even eighth heaven, not only having been asked to open for the Duchess of Coolville, which he did in terrific style, but apparently ending up lending her his guitar at one point, after problems with hers at the start of the show. And when she subsequently graced the Holiday Inn with her presence for a post-show libation, the hotel’s night manager – a total and lifelong fan – was also a very happy man. Mind you, his colleagues serving the drinks were somewhat less impressed a few hours later, as last orders approached, when members of her band arrived and settled themselves into the now largely deserted bar (it was the first Monday night), and proceeded to tuck into a substantial takeaway meal. Now, we’ve often seen folk inhaling a fly poke of chips or slice of pizza in there when it’s been mobbed, and the staff have been wonderfully accommodating, but on this occasion, as one barman was heard to mutter, “They could at least have asked,” while the other affirmed the picnickers’ impressive brass neck: “Aye – they’ve just asked me for mayonnaise, too.”
 
Back at the Concert Hall earlier, up in the Strathclyde Suite, a more bijou but utterly agog audience were treated to the astonishing artistry of Argentina’s Tanino Dúo, who play music originally written for bandonéon – the tango accordion – as lead instrument, but instead pair the accompanying guitar with chromatic harmonica. Guitarist Fernando Sánchez and moothie maestro Santiago Álvarez were making their debut at Celtic Connections, as special guests of alternative string quartet Mr McFall’s Chamber, and took the stage with intently serious expressions, brows furrowed in concentration. By the end of their first number, as they sensed the enthralled warmth and wonderment of their listeners’ response – which duly burst forth in loudly sustained applause – they were wreathed in smiles. In halting English, they expressed how honoured they felt to perform here, and language was no barrier when they summed up what they festival is essentially all about: “We come here to share the music that we love.”
 
Having flown in from Buenos Aires, the duo had been rehearsing hard with McFall’s for most of the preceding weekend, as the band’s leader Robert McFall explained. (Apparently, Saturday was the first time Sánchez had ever seen snow.) In between times, though, McFall continued, the Argentinians had been enthusiastically partaking of their first Celtic Connections experience – or, as McFall put it, “the various cultural and social events that have been happening.” We’d be hard put to conjure a more elegantly deceptive euphemism for the past few days’ and nights’ mighty shenanigans.
 
Once Ms Jones’s musicians had finished their dinner and departed La Bonne Auberge (having at least tidied their rubbish into a bag), barely half a dozen hardy punters remained – but among them was a core Celtic team member on a rare night off, who was not about to be deterred by a small thing like the hotel bar closing. And so it was that when a certain renowned percussionist arrived in the small hours, after a nightmarish day of snarl-ups in getting here from Sligo, he found himself whisked off to Bar Bloc until it shut at 3am. Perhaps not the wisest Monday night all round, but an excellent one nonetheless.