Overwhelmingly positive feedback flooding in

Once again, we’ve been appreciating the overwhelmingly positive feedback flooding in for the past weekend’s shows – from both audiences and artists. This year’s Roaming Roots Revue, celebrating The Women of Song, seems to have left everyone especially wowed, with highlights including Jesca Hoop singing Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, Yola Carter’s rendition of ‘Natural Woman’, and Kathryn Joseph’s contribution of her own ‘Tell My Lover’ Fleetwood Mac’s‘Rhiannon’.
“I can’t actually find the words to describe how AMAZING all the performances were,” was one listener’s response, while another tweeted during the show, “Don’t mind me I’m just sobbing watching my favourite beautiful witch-human @kathrynjoseph sing heartbreaking gorgeousness @ccfest”. Joseph herself, posting the following day, was likewise somewhat overcome: “i am cry all day today because I am in love with every single human of last night Thankyou for every f***ing second of it Celtic Connections you are as per usual the best of all everything xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx”
Elsewhere around the programme, La Banda Europa’s mighty, border-busting show last night was described as “the perfect antidote to this increasingly mad world,” and in similar vein, a visitor from Singapore was moved by Saturday’s Strings of the World to declare, “There is much beauty in the world, if only people seek to unite, rather than find division and discrimination!” Another concert that appears to have left its entire capacity crowd in a state of utter bliss was Duncan Chisholm: The Gathering on Saturday which the fiddler himself summed up as “a night I will remember always”.
In just one example of the economic benefits Celtic Connections brings to Glasgow, yesterday afternoon saw a sizeable contingent of Showcase Scotland delegates, together with other festival regulars, gathering in the Pot Still bar, as has become traditional, to remember and raise a glass to departed friends like Eugene Graham, from Denmark, and Shetland’s Davie Henderson. After a couple of hours in the pub, Caroline MacLennan from the Heb Celt Festival on Lewis thought she’d round up a few folk to go for dinner – only to find herself leading a party of 18 (from seven different countries), to Jamie’s Italian, where the resulting bill totalled well over £600: nae bad for a January Sunday night.
Full immersion in Celtic Connections tends to make the wider world recede, and the concept of gigs happening anywhere else somewhat alien, but most of our artists have to dip in and out of the festival bubble, as work elsewhere dictates – hence Irish piper Ryan Murphy’s currently somewhat frantic schedule. Following Friday’s triumphant Glasgow debut with Ímar, he was on a plane next morning to play in Paris with Mànran, on Saturday and Sunday night. The whole band were due to fly back earlier today, from Orly to Edinburgh, in plenty of time for Murphy to rejoin Ímar at tonight’s Suirm recording, filmed with a live audience in Hillhead Bookclub for BBC Alba.
That original flight’s cancellation was followed, for Murphy, by a high-speed taxi dash across Paris to Charles de Gaulle airport, from where he’d booked a direct ticket to Glasgow – only to find this second flight delayed by 90 minutes, such that he eventually arrived at 4.15 this afternoon, for a 3.30 sound-check. After a day or so’s relative downtime, Ímar are playing the Celtic Connections schools concert at 10am on Wednesday (after an 8am soundcheck), before piling straight in a taxi to Glasgow airport, and flying to Derry for a gig at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin’s Imbolc festival. If you spot Murphy, in particular, looking a bit dazed and confused from Thursday onwards, maybe help him out with a reminder of which city he’s in.
Talking of the Suirm recordings, there are two more to go, both with stunning line-ups: tomorrow features Dónal Lunny’s Atlantic Arc Orchestra, Karan Casey, Welsh sibling trio Plu, and Skye sisters Brìghde and Steaphanaidh Chaimbeul, while Wednesday 1st brings together Transatlantic Sessions star Tift Merritt, the super-trio of Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker and John Doyle, Barra’s one and only Cathy Ann MacPhee, performing with Patsy Seddon, and young Scottish threesome Canach. Both events are FREE but ticketed – you can book via production company Bees Nees’s website, and when we checked there still seemed to be tickets left.
On an extremely sad note, our heartfelt condolences go to all family and friends of the Rev. D. I. Campbell, a member of the Lewis Gaelic Psalm singers, who has died suddenly. As a result, Friday’s concert with Craig Armstrong and Calum Martin, Salm Music: New Works, has been cancelled. A full refund is available to all ticket-holders, who will be contacted via email by the festival box office.