A busy weekend ahead

​​​​We sincerely hope that anyone visiting Glasgow for Celtic Connections this weekend has already booked their accommodation, as the city’s looking just a wee bit busy over the next few days. Besides the small matter of the festival itself – with a cool 47 shows taking place between Friday and Sunday – plus the additional 200-strong Showcase Scotland contingent, the Strictly Come Dancing tour is doing three nights at the Hydro, Celtic are at home to Hearts, and there’s apparently some big trade or business conference happening, so there’s barely a hotel room to be had: some Celtic artists and crew are already staying as far out as Paisley. It’d certainly be interesting to see the total city-wide takings, though.
Not least among the festival accommodation team’s challenges will have been housing the 36 members of La Banda Europa, who’ve been arriving from all airts and corners of the Continent, for their first reunion in eight years, having made their debut at the opening concert of Celtic Connections 2008. In addition to their main show at the Concert Hall on Sunday, which we imagine will be pretty strong in its message of celebrating European connectedness, the band are also hosting another event at Platform, in Easterhouse, the previous night. Pointedly titled JAM (Just About Managing), it’s described by the venue as, “a wonderful musical celebration of our differences and how they make us more alike”, and while La Banda heid honcho Jim Sutherland calls it “an international celebration of humanity - basically a big lovey international ceilidh (old style) with refugees and local people taking part.” Other special guests include rappers Loki and Louie from Hector Berzerk. The event is free but ticketed. A specially chartered bus will leave Mono (12 King’s Court, Glasgow) at 6.30pm, returning after the show.
While we imagine that the Natural Environment Research Council bitterly rue the day they ever thought of holding a competition to name their new ship, for the rest of us it’s a gift that keeps on giving – as proved by one of the acts performing yesterday on the Danny Kyle Open Stage, proud bearers of the name Folky McFolkface: for that alone they deserve to go far.
Among the many highlights of last night’s BEMIS Burns Supper at the Fruitmarket – another successful occasion of celebrating diversity and kinship through music – surely one of the most cherishable moments was the sight of Celtic Connections longtime production manager, unwontedly scrubbed up, drafted in to preside over the haggis in his new guise as Declan ‘Rabbie’ McCarthy. Bet that was never in his job-description.
Last night, too, the odd Burns song had even made it into the Holiday Inn playlist that’s relayed through that fine establishment’s downstairs toilets, adjacent to the bar. Even prior to that, its prevailing menu of generic lounge jazz and piano ballads was already being infiltrated by folk material – both Sharon Shannon and Planxty had been heard on earlier occasions – and in the wee hours of this morning (as it were) there was even a blast of the Pogues.
Among the Cape Breton contingent who played in last night’s Unusual Suspects show, fiddler and trumpeter Daniel Lapp has brought his 10-year-old daughter along for the trip. It’s a while since he was last at Celtic Connections, so there’s been plenty of folk to catch up with  - hence his daughter being overheard asking Corrina Hewat, around 11.30 on Tuesday night, “Could you please go and get my dad out of the bar?”, while approximately 24 hours later she was resignedly practising her roller-skating around the Holiday Inn’s marble-floored lobby.
And finally today, a Facebook greeting from our Irish friends Beoga, looking forward to their show with Breabach next weekend: “We cannae wait, the last time we played the festival someone threw a pair of dirty Y-fronts at us. Glasgow, please never change.”