A hilarious Celtic Connections rider request

We have a new definition of a first-world problem. Some of the generous sponsors’ freebies donated to Showcase Scotland, for delegates’ goodie-bags, were provided this year in smallish batches, such that the contents of individual bags varied: everyone got the same number of things, but some specific things were different to others’. Apparently some folk were actually complaining they hadn’t got one of the Culture Ireland notebooks, say, or that they’d no whisky miniature – and so had to make do with Edinburgh Gin instead.
Just give us a minute to locate Celtic Connections’ very tiniest fiddle.


The tireless Showcase production team’s unfailing pleasantness and patience in the face of such behaviour – allied with oh-so subtle nuances of expression, eye-contact and eyebrow position, which communicate contrasting volumes to close colleagues – is mightily impressive to witness.


Talking of tireless (and also of tired), two key Celtic staffers were waiting for their lunch outside Concert Hall catering yesterday, having a seat meantime between Stage Door and the backstage lift, when Gaelic songsters Blasta arrived and piled into the latter, waving hellos as they passed. The lift doors closed, and off they went; our peckish pair resumed their chat; the lift opened again and there were the same five Gaels. More smiles and hellos; doors re-closed, the lift re-ascended – a sequence which was then repeated not just once, but twice, until the now-giggling quintet were finally asked, “Where are you going?” Whereupon came the answer: “We’re trying to get to the ground floor” – which of course is where they came in. Having pondered whether the issue was a lack of lifts in the Hebrides, given the band’s seeming incapacity to use one, our lunching ladies concluded it was just another case of festival final-weekend syndrome: there’s a lot of it about, after all.


Talking also of Showcase Scotland, it’s worked closely over a number of years with Canada’s East Coast Music Association, who hosted a delegates’ reception at Drygate this afternoon, with performances from three Atlantic Canadian artists. These included the very wonderful Old Man Luedecke (aka the actually-not-very-old singer/songwriter Chris Luedecke), who elicited a beautiful audience singalong to the choruses of his final number, ‘The Early Days’, a tender parental ode to the fleetingness of young childhood. At which point a regular Scottish island delegate made a very sharp exit, muttering as she fled past, “I need to sort myself out”. No cause for alarm, it transpired; simply the fact that the last time she saw Luedecke was five years ago, at her own home festival, in the venue she was stage-managing, when she went into labour with her first baby. Hearing him again singing about the joys of children, therefore, understandably rendered her somewhat overcome - but they were definitely happy tears.


Tonight’s the big night for The Ceilidh King himself, Mr Fergie MacDonald, as he takes the stage at the Pavilion – in the footsteps of so many fellow greats of Scottish entertainment – for both the final bout of his 80th birthday festivities, continued from last year, and his swansong to Glasgow, fully 65 years after forming his first band.
Judging by his gig rider, he’s fully in the mood to celebrate in


“4 x bottles of Famous Grouse and loads of Ginger Ale.

A rake of beers

1 x haunch of legal or illegally, caught/shot, venison

1 x gallon of red diesel

1 x fresh white cotton pants (Size 38 waist)

1 x pair of red socks

1 x clean white string vest (does not have to be new)

1 x Ann Summers voucher for wife, Maureen.


After that, just the usual please, 15 towels, still and sparkling water, fresh fruit, tea, coffee, nibbles of choice.”


The Holiday Inn Theatreland is of course renowned among Celtic Connections habitués as a doughty supporter of music and musicians – and as one of this year’s official festival sponsors. As its name suggests, it’s an establishment well plugged into Glasgow’s cultural life in general, but we only just discovered that it sponsors its own prize in the Scottish Awards for New Music – alongside other backers including Hands Up For Trad, PRS for Music and Help Musicians UK – whose 2018 winners will be announced at a big bash in the Drygate on March 7th.


Now in their second years, the awards are run by New Music Scotland, who comprise – in their own words – “a network of artists, ensembles, orchestras, composers, creators, music educators, sound artists, musicians, producers, promoters and anyone who believes in the importance and value of creating new music in Scotland. . . a cooperative that exists to connect, enable and support makers of innovative and experimental new music.”


Casting the genre net as widely as possible, their list of “new music practices” includes “Acoustic Ecology / Avant-garde music / Co-improvisation / Contemporary chamber music / Contemporary opera / Contemporary orchestral music / Contemporary vocal and choral music / Computer music / Electroacoustic music / Electronica Experimental music / Experimental world music / Experimental folk music / Free improvisation / Invented instruments / Microtonal music / Musique actuelle / Radio art / Sound art / Uncategorisable musical practices.”
By our reckoning, most if not all of the above have featured at Celtic Connections over the years – arguably the last one most of all.


The Holiday Inn Theatreland Award, specifically, is given to the year’s best ‘New Electroacoustic Sound Art Work’ – but any folkies fearful of our favourite hotel’s affections being seduced away should rest easy: we’re pretty sure this genre’s exponents don’t play many sessions.