The festival club is open!

​Approaching from along Renfrew Street, around 1am last night, the happy racket of the Festival Club in full swing could be heard; and very lovely it was to be back in the Art School, after the last three years’ wanderings around sundry less-than-ideal nitespots. There’s an excellent room upstairs for each night’s surprise line-up to take the stage, and another commodious, comfy, ground-floor bar offering scope for tunes – the latter in particular being the key missing ingredient at those recent previous premises.

It was a night for the folky young team, including the wonderful Mischa MacPherson, Paddy Callaghan Trio and the recently-formed Dosca, comprising five RCS students from both the folk and jazz programmes, who were on positively bangin’ form. There was also a transatlantic young team, another five-piece from Boston’s Berklee College, collectively known as Twisted Pine, who’ve been hanging out with their RCS counterparts ahead of tomorrow’s Wayfaring Strangers show at the City Halls. Having already played up a storm at the Late Night Sessions on Thursday, they’ve obviously been learning the meaning of gi’in it laldy, and did so in spectacularly scorching style last night, self-evidently having the time of their lives while playing and singing out of their skins. One of their number, multi-instrumentalist and singer Adam Moore, exhibited a further grasp of local vernacular as he wholeheartedly thanked the audience for their appreciation – such an accurate grasp, in fact, that his tribute is sadly unrepeatable here, even with asterisks.

Conversing in the downstairs bar – another thing that a second, quieter room is good for, assuming you prefer your vocal cords unshredded – one of those aforementioned local musicians was recounting how he went about deciding which tickets to buy for Celtic Connections. “I go through the index of artists first, rather than the actual programme, and make a list from that, to make sure I don’t miss any names who I’d really want to see,” he explains. “Then I start going through the actual gigs – and there’ll be at least half a dozen points over the festival where I’ll just be going, ‘You b*******!’ because there’s just too much going on at once and I have to choose between things.” We think what he means is, Monsieur Shaw, with zis festival you are really spoiling us…

There are downsides to being a winter festival, prominent among them being winter weather, which beset a good many would-be concert-goers last night, particularly those due to be travelling from the north and west, although all shows went ahead as planned (unlike a certain football game). Among those affected in Glasgow itself – and winning early honours in this year’s not-a-diva stakes – were Irish duo The Lost Brothers, heading for their soundcheck at Òran Mór. They’d already lived up to their name, having earlier been administratively mislaid at festival HQ by a staffer – perhaps a Peter Pan fan? - who eventually realised she’d been vainly searching her lists for The Lost Boys. Then as yesterday's blizzard whirled, they found themselves helping to push their festival transport, complete with all their gear, along the flyover leading to Great Western Road – a contretemps accepted, by all accounts, with impressively good grace.
The buzz around the Concert Hall was raised to a particularly joyous pitch earlier today, as around 50 of the participants in this weekend’s Song School staged a late afternoon flash-mob on the main central stairs – if you missed it, they’re planning a repeat performance tomorrow at 4pm.

Responses to Martyn Bennett’s/Greg Lawson’s GRIT performance continue to reverberate two days after the event, with Coda Music reporting a dramatic spike in orders for the album on Friday morning, while Kid Canaveral, who was in the audience, delivered his own eloquent Facebook summation: “Incredible. Better than Prince. Greeted thrice.”

As the Danny Kyle Open Stage got properly under way at teatime, with the first six contenders following yesterday’s performance by the 2014 title-holders, early front-runners in the best-name contest were Lancashire indie/alt-folk duo Bad Cardigan, while Inverness fiddler Graham Mackenzie’s longtime record as the youngest-ever winner, aged 12 in 2004, was under threat from Dumfriesshire multi-instrumentalist Ruby Darbyshire, already a seasoned busker - at just eight years old. There are, incidentally, still a few tickets left for Mackenzie’s New Voices show tomorrow lunchtime: very highly recommended.

And once again, at time of writing, there are still some tickets left for tonight’s Festival Club – first come first served at the door: see you there.