Congratulations are in order!

​​Hearty congratulations to this year’s Danny Kyle Open Stage winners, who triumphed amid perhaps a stronger and more international field than ever, with contenders flying in from far and wide for their coveted 15 minutes of potential fame, underlining the event’s stature and influence as a career launch-pad. So we look forward to welcoming back young Inverness quartet Ho Ro; teenage Orkney guitar ace Griogair Morrison; Plockton/Fèis alumni the Mischa Macpherson Trio (also finalists in this month’s BBC Young Folk Award); Paisley-based alt-bluegrass combo The Chaplins, and singer-songwriters Arthur Nicholson, from Shetland, and Edinburgh’s Austen George, as they claim their prize of a slot at next year’s festival.
With tonight’s and tomorrow’s 18 shows still to go (plus the small matters of the Festival Club and Late Night Sessions), the final numbers for Celtic Connections 2014 will be a wee while in the crunching, but we have been passed some record-breaking totals from last weekend, which resoundingly set the seal on the success of the festival’s first foray into the SSE Hydro, as well as its panoply of other concerts across the city. On Friday evening – the night of the big Del Amitri gig - just a fraction under 14,500 people attended a Celtic Connections show, while Saturday’s tally was hardly less impressive at nearly 10,500. That’s getting on for 25,000 bums on seats within 48 hours, which is going some by any standards.
After fine sets in the Festival Club last night from Galician visitors A Banda das Crechas and Paddy Callahan’s band – as the latter’s helmsman entered his final 24 hours as Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year, before tomorrow’s contest decides his successor – the final act was an ad hoc septet including Ross Couper, Rua Macmillan, Mike Vass, Innes Watson and Adam Brown, whose nicely symmetrical instrumentation comprised two bodhrans, two guitars and two fiddles, plus a drummer on kit in the rear for extra welly. And even though you’d think them too young to make the pun, they also came up trumps with their name for the night: Bodhran Bodhran.
One of this year’s main festival photographers received something of a shock last night, after he’d done his rounds snapping several shows, and was preparing to enjoy the sole visit he’s allowed himself to the Festival Club this year, before heading home today as he was due to fly to the States tomorrow. Or so he thought... Instead he received a reminder text from his airline, saying they hoped he was ready for his flight, which was in fact booked for around 7am today – so he had to phone them and explain that no, after more than two weeks solid of covering Celtic Connections, he was nowhere near ready. His departure has now been rescheduled to what he thought was his original plan.