Dick Gaughan Benefit Concert

At the Old Fruitmarket last night, the Dick Gaughan Benefit Concert unsurprisingly proved an emotional, uplifting and musically sumptuous occasion, with a stellar list of performers and enormous love in the room. The latter was expressed most powerfully in the truly almighty roar that greeted Dick himself, when he was eventually coaxed onstage by compère Elaine C Smith - and the one that followed when he said he’d be back.


For various reasons, the show’s logistical arrangements were all a bit last-minute in coming together, and yesterday ended up mostly in the lap of one female featured artist, who pretty much had to sort out the whole running-order in between learning/rehearsing the songs she was involved in. “I felt like I spent the entire day answering other people’s questions,” she said afterwards. “Someone even asked me at one point, ‘What should I do with the contents of this cafetière?’ Luckily for them, they didn’t get the first response that came to mind – but it was close.”


Having been occupied with a few other things, we’ve only just caught up with the fact that this is the second day/night of Independent Venue Week, promoting and celebrating the invaluably dedicated bedrock and backbone of the UK music scene, which runs until this Sunday.
Despite the belated affirmation, Celtic Connections is proud to be partnering with three of Glasgow’s five official venues -The Hug and Pint, Glad Café and Broadcast – which do so much to support local and independent music, including that all-important new talent, throughout the year.


During a lovely chat the other night with US singer/fiddler Laura Cortese – who plays her own headline show with The Dance Cards, supported by WHTYE, tonight at St Andrews in the Square - we learned that the particular logic behind her opening slot at tomorrow’s Blazin’ Fiddles 20th anniversary fiesta, in the Main Auditorium, goes all the way back to her maiden Celtic Connections visit, which she guesstimates at 1999 or 2000. That was when she was inspired to the point of revelation by first seeing the Blazers, in their original line-up – and most especially by founder member Catriona Macdonald, Cortese having never previously seen a female fiddler taking a lead role in a band. “I hadn’t seen Liz Carrroll at that point, or Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, and watching Catriona just opened up so much for me,” she said “It made things seem possible that I’d never considered before.” He’s nae daft, is oor Donald, when he’s putting these line-ups together.


When it comes to that first trip to Celtic Connections, Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan of I’m With Her clearly believe in starting ’em young, each having brought along their very new babies – both around three months old – for the trio’s visit this year to perform last Sunday.  It’s kinda fun, if freaky, to wonder what those two tiny mites might be doing at the festival in another 25 years’ time. . .


Man of the moment Greg Lawson – composer and conductor of Saturday’s epochal Bothy Culture performance by the GRIT orchestra – was out for a small libation last night, still decidedly boggled and – blissfully, if dazedly - discombobulated by the whole experience (and small wonder). Among many others, one aspect of the evening about which he remained incredulous was that he’d said “bottom” (in the bahookie
sense) while addressing several thousand people, in the course of explaining how the seated majority of the crowd could dance in their seats, by clenching one buttock at a time. “It could have been worse, though,” he reassured himself. “I’m not sure if you’re allowed to say a**e on prime-time BBC, which might have created a bit of an editing problem.”


While that one clearly sticks in his mind, Lawson says he has almost no clear memories of the show once his hand-picked orchestra got going. Until, that is, the start of the second encore, when he spotted the stage manager gesticulating fiercely at him from behind drummer James Mackintosh, making the ‘five minutes’ symbol with one hand before drawing it unmistakably across his throat – Lawson knowing all the while that the tune was at least seven or eight minutes long. “So we just had to do it faster,” he said nonchalantly: ‘we’, of course, being around 80 musicians, who’d already given their all – and beyond
- for a full 90 minutes, yet once again they rose to the challenge.
They as well as Lawson will be among the legions looking forward to the show’s TV broadcast this Saturday, on BBC2 Scotland from 9pm.


Another nice festival testimonial from UK singer-songwriter, guitarist extraordinaire and former Danny Kyle Open Stage winner Elliott Morris, who played Hazy Recollections last Sunday. Summing up his weekend as “a whale of a time”, before enthusing about the gig, he then continued: “After the show I caught up with some pals (various hands were held), made some new ones (pals, not hands), wore someone else’s hat for a while and was mistaken for someone’s Danish friend. Wild times in Glasgow.”