All hands to the pump

​It’s been all hands to the pump at the Hydro since yesterday, as the countdown continues to tomorrow night’s Bothy Culture and Beyond spectacular, featuring The GRIT Orchestra with Niteworks, Sian, All or Nothing Aerialist Dance Theatre, Double Take Projections (whose previous projects include lighting up the new Queensferry Crossing when it opened) and of course the one and only Danny MacAskill, whose lunatic prowess on a bike must be seen to be believed.
As indeed it will be by the thousands attending this once-in-a-lifetime show, thanks to the united efforts of the 300-odd crew currently building the set and preparing the venue: following on from yesterday’s dispatch here, an update came down the line last night, from production manager Rab Randall, reporting that, “The mountain is 99 percent finished.” (Apparently the get-out after the gig will take until 6am on Sunday.) If you haven’t got your tickets yet, more were released today.
Also at the Hydro yesterday, in one of those classic Celtic Connections coincidences, festival Executive Producer Jade Hewat was introduced to the event’s show caller, a pivotal figure in such a complex and multi-dimensional performance, whose job it is to call all the cues and ensure that the musicians and other participants not only come in on time, but remain in synch throughout. The lady appointed for Bothy Culture works mainly in theatre, where she’s rated with the best in the business.
Upon meeting, she and Jade were both sure they recognised each other, but couldn’t initially work out where from. Eventually, however, they traced it all the way back to 1996, Jade’s very first year working at Celtic Connections, when our show caller, then aged 14, undertook a stint of work experience at the festival, from her Glasgow high-school – an experience to which she attributes her entire subsequent career.
During his recent stay at the Novotel/Ibis establishment on Pitt Street – another hotel stuffed with Celtic artists this time of year – Swedish multi-instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunggren found his sleep contnually disturbed by a barking dog in a neighbouring room. Eventually he lost patience and phoned down to reception, opening his enquiry with, “Is there anything you can do about. . .” – whereupon the receptionist finished for him, “. . . the dog. Yes, sir, we know about the dog.” Clearly the poor employee had been inundated with irate calls regarding the noise – the thing being that all this took place around mid-afternoon, when the hotel, largely frequented by business travellers, would usually have been empty, whereas in January it’s full of musicians demanding their right to sleep all day, having rolled in stocious at 4 or 5am.
Talking of slumber, back at the Holiday Inn last night, a regular festival photographer was spotted after evidently partying not wisely but too well, drifting for a while between sleeping in an armchair and seemingly attempting to keep chatting, but with his eyes still firmly shut. Eventually rousted – and seemingly somewhat refreshed – as the bar was being cleared, he cheerfully acknowledged his level of inebriation, inadvertently but aptly conflating ‘beautiful’ and ‘brutal’ as he declared himself to be “brutifully p***ed.”