​And so farewell and RIP to the great Hugh Masekela, South Africa’s best-known musician – alongside his one-time wife Miriam Makeba – associated with the anti-apartheid struggle. He may never have played Celtic Connections, but did forge a special relationship with Glasgow, reflected in his guest-of-honour status at the city’s first International Mandela Day celebrations, alongside the likes of Arthur Johnstone and Siobhan Miller, in July 2014. (Glasgow, of course, was the world’s first place to honour Mandela with the Freedom of the City, right back in 1981, an honour he finally accepted in person 12 years later.)
Masekela had also played here in spring 2012, at the Old Fruitmarket, during which show the then 72-year-old – born in his grandmother’s shebeen - asserted his ability to party as hard as any Scot. “Before 1961, the indigenous people of South Africa weren’t allowed to partake of alcoholic beverages,” he explained. “So we became very good at drinking.”
Anyone who shares the same late-night haunts as local photographer, music-lover and bon viveur Sean Purser – especially but not exclusively during Celtic Connections – will be only too familiar with the reflex jolt of dread upon waking up after such an evening, checking Facebook and espying the notification ‘Sean Purser posted [umpteen] new photos’. Over the years, his singular ability to capture beamingly happy faces, right in the moment, has engendered a vast visual archive collectively titled Heids – which is also the name of his current exhibition, up in the Concert Hall’s Island Bar throughout this year’s festival.
Having begun with what must now number thousands of images, Purser seemingly found the initial selection reasonably straightforward: “Just picking the ones that were vaguely in focus cut the total down pretty dramatically. . .” – though he does point out that most shots were taken indoors, after dark, and many involve more than one ‘heid’, which makes getting both or all of them equally unblurred much trickier. Other criteria included shots he himself was happy with, mainly portraying well-kent/notorious Celtic Connections faces, and spanning a variety of settings, characters and above all craic. (Purser’s personal favourite sees Phil Cunningham brilliantly photobombing an oblivious Aly Bain and Kris Drever.) The resulting 33 heid-shots, plus a handsome handful of his gig photos, are a superb visual distillation of the festival’s essence which will definitely bring a smile to your face in turn.
Talking of photographers, one of our regular snappers was positively spitting feathers earlier today, having gone along to an eagerly-anticipated teatime gig wearing a brand-new (to him) pair of Levis, freshly purchased from a certain well-known auction site, only for their posterior to rip out completely as soon as he arrived. Following a sharp exit (literally covering his a**e), he stomped home for a quick change, having thankfully intended but forgotten to put his other pair in the wash (he’s picky about the style). He also, in high dudgeon, fired off a message to the offending garment’s seller – and received an immediate refund, which at least ended the episode on a happier note.
Regular readers may recall Sunday’s description of the euphoria engendered by Croft No.5’s Festival Club slot the previous night, not least on the part of bassist Somhairle McDonald. We’d been quite pleased with our turn of phrase, in describing him as “ be-kilted, bare-chested and slamming the bejesus out of his bass. . . positively beside himself with joy” – but the man himself, replying in the affirmative, beat us hands down in evoking the experience: “It's TRUE!” his message read. “I was OVER JOYED, BEYOND JOYED... IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE OF EUPHORIC, PSYCHEDELIC, ETHNOFUNK JOY!”
Should you be seeking some late-night joy yourself this Tuesday evening, the very fabulous Folkytown returns to the Flying Duck from 10.30pm, for a session hosted by James Mackenzie, Alexander Levack and Jenn Butterworth. You know you want to. . .