First weekend done and dusted

​And so that’s the first weekend done and dusted, with today perhaps being a day for the licking of wounds - be they to the bank balance or those actual mysterious bruises commonly known as “unidentified drinking injuries” – unless you’re heading along to the one and only Rickie Lee Jones, or Mr McFall’s Chamber’s tango show. Though if you are at home, you can still enjoy Celtic Connections even while lying down in a darkened room, by tuning in to Vic Galloway’s show on Radio Scotland, broadcasting live from the CCA, with full sets lined up from C Duncan, Trembling Bells and JR Green.
While the festival’s first Monday might be a lull for some, the action never really stops, with the week starting bright and early this morning for Skerryvore and our new Québécois friends Les Poules à Colin – who’ve been tirelessly making the most of their debut Glasgow visit – as they regaled a capacity crowd of schoolkids at today’s education concert. Danny Kyle’s Open Stage is also on in its regular 5-7pm slot, of course, giving six more acts their chance to bag a slot on the 2017 bill – acts chosen this year from a total of 264 contenders, making Liz Clarke’s job in sifting through them harder than ever: “I remember when bands would get a slot as long as they could play in tune,” she observes.
Talking of 2017 – there’s been someone on Facebook asking about next year’s festival dates already, which is infinitely further ahead than we can begin to contemplate at this point – but just for the record, those dates are January 19-February 5.
Up in the Celtic production office, it’s been all hands on deck since well before the festival started, with job descriptions blurring or expanding exponentially, in common cause simply to get done what needs doing. An agent phoned over the weekend, wanting to arrange some tickets for one of her bands, and found herself put through to Artistic Director Donald Shaw, who was organising that night’s guest-lists.
A variety of festival “fringe” events have also been spreading the music even further and wider – the Friends of Plockton sessions in Waxy O’Connor’s are up and running again over all three weekends; Sunday Funday was duly celebrated along at the Flying Duck, and Broadcast is joining in this year, too, hosting its own late night sessions from midnight until 3am, Thursday to Sunday. While he may not quite have matched the hours being notched up by core festival staff, Shetland fiddler Ross Couper nonetheless put in an admirable shift yesterday, playing at Waxy’s from 3 till 11pm, then heading for Broadcast to finish the night there: they make ’em tough where he comes from.
And it was another lengthy night, too, in the Holiday Inn bar, albeit a touch mellower than the preceding two. As the bar staff went around picking up abandoned belongings, while the last of their customers straggled out the door, Findlay Napier – enjoying a rare night off – found himself presented with two carrier bags, which didn’t belong to him, but which he was able to identify: “one of them’s Emma Pollock’s chocolates and champagne; the other one’s Phil Cunningham’s onion rings and Cheetos”. Whether these items were later reunited with their owners – alas, we cannot say.