Opening weekend

​There was certainly no gentle or gradual run-in to the opening weekend in evidence last night: definitely more a case of hitting the ground running, with Barrowland and the main Concert Hall auditorium – accounting for over 4000 tickets between them - heading up a long list of sold-out venues around town, encompassing gigs as diverse as German experimentalists Rayon, collaborating with Gaelic psalm singers, at Platform in Easterhouse, and the mighty Mike McGoldrick stripping it back to essentials at the Piping Centre, in a storming duo performance with fellow Manc Dezi Donnelly.
The Barrowland gig was especially epic, by all accounts: it’s a bucket-list venue for any Scottish musician to play, so the members of Mànran – launching their new album, An Dà Là, in triumphant style - and Blazing Fiddles were all exceedingly happy boys and girls, as were Stateside visitors Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, who completed the triple bill, and likewise the entirety of their audience, to judge by the online outpouring of post-gig plaudits. Among the euphoric posts was one from a certain David Foley, of Rura fame, declaring, “Actually the greatest band of ALL TIME”. It wasn’t clear which of the bands he was actually praising, but presumably any of them would happily take it.
Small wonder, then, that the Blazers proceeded to take the roof off the Festival Club later on, among a stonking first-Friday line-up that also included Galician ten-piece A Banda Das Crechas, the Paddy Callahan Big Band, and Ross Couper helming a six-strong instrumental young team to finish off the night.
Earlier in the day, the panel discussion “Exploring Music and Gender”, arranged at short notice by harpist and singer Rachel Newton, attracted a very encouraging audience of around 60, who together with the panellists chewed over the subject of women’s under-representation within folk music – both as performers and elsewhere in the industry – for a good 90 minutes. And while a certain amount of spleen was vented, as personal encounters with sexism were shared, the talk focused increasingly on positive solutions and strategies for change, such that the gathering ended on a emphatically fired-up rather than fed-up note – serendipitously echoed by the sound of the anti-Trump rally taking place outside on Buchanan Street. Newton will be looking into further possibilities for networking around the issue, and can be contacted via Facebook.