Can domestic bliss ever have felt sweeter?

​Can domestic bliss ever have felt sweeter? Shetland fiddler Ross Couper, having by his own account enjoyed “the wildest Celtic weekend ever” (and that’s going some, by his standards) posted a heartfelt tribute to his girlfriend earlier today, after surfacing this afternoon to find she’d anticipated his somewhat delicate state of body and mind by laying in an eight-pack of Irn Bru (the original variety), a litre and a half of orange juice, a pepperoni pizza and a bar of Lindt Extra Creamy chocolate. Greater love hath no man, we suspect, than Ross experienced at that moment.
Following yesterday’s screening of Alasdair Fraser’s movie The Groove Is Not Trivial, expounding his fervent belief in music’s transformative powers, it seems apt to relate a story we heard the other night, about a London family who attended his Valley of the Moon fiddle camp, in San Francisco, in 2016 – despite the fact that none of them played fiddle at that point, though they did have their own ceilidh band. So inspired were they by his teaching, centred on his native Scottish traditions, that not only did all of them take up Fraser’s instrument, but within six months they’d upped and moved to Glasgow, arriving just in time for last year’s Celtic Connections. Delightedly in the thick of their second festival, they clearly weren’t plagued by any second thoughts.
Possibly inspired by Phil Jupitus’s aspiration, reported yesterday, to form “a dairy farm based techno tribute group called Udderworld”, photographer and bassist Somhairle MacDonald – he of Croft No.5 fame – claimed during a Facebook discussion last night that he’s currently learning Phil Collins’s entire back catalogue, in order to record a “grind core math metal covers album called ‘nil collins, the eradication of beige’”. Could Donald Shaw book him immediately for Celtic 2019, please?
A widespread trait that clearly distinguishes today’s generation of Scottish folkies from their older counterparts is an admirable, if anti-stereotypical, concern with health and fitness, commonly manifested in regular running. One recent convert to this pursuit is flautist/pianist Hamish Napier, who’s decided to extend the benefits of his suffering beyond himself, and take advantage of a particularly peripatetic week, by running 10 kilometres in each of the three Irish cities where he’s gigging this week, in support of the Fraser Shaw Trust, which raises money for MS charities after its namesake, a much-loved figure on the Glasgow folk scene, died from the disease in 2015. Having squeezed in the Dublin run between arrival and soundcheck – and in his target time of under an hour – he’s now gearing up to pound the streets of Derry this Wednesday, and Belfast on Thursday. (For some unknown reason, his home town of Glasgow, where he’ll presumably be back for Celtic Connections’ final fling this weekend, doesn’t feature in the itinerary.) You can support his sterling efforts here:
Showcase Scotland, the annual expo event within Celtic Connections, kicks of this Wednesday, with nearly 200 international music-industry delegates arriving from all over the world, to sample the cream of current Scottish sounds, along with those of Ireland, this year’s partner country in the event. In conjunction with Help Musicians UK and the Scottish Music Centre, the Showcase team are holding an Artists Day on Wednesday at the City Halls, for Scottish musicians looking to optimise their international careers.
A mix of panels and information sessions will cover how to target overseas festivals (with representatives from the Cambridge and Philadelphia Folk Festivals, Lorient, Celtic Colours and Borneo’s Rainforest World Music Festival); how to keep yourself sane and well on the road, and diversifying your income in the digital age. Running 10am-4pm, the whole event is FREE – with lunch included – and participants are then invited to attend the Lord Provost’s civic reception, in the City Chambers, which officially launches Showcase 2018. Register for your place here:, and RSVP for the reception here: