Wednesday – and now it’s the weekend

​Even in a folk scene where growing success and professionalisation have made starstruck fan adulation less of a rarity for its top artists, accordionist, radio presenter and ex-shinty hero Gary Innes is more used to it than most. Following yesterday’s recording of this Saturday’s hugely popular dance-band show Take the Floor, however, with a live crowd at the Cottier Theatre, even he was tickled afresh upon being approached by a gaggle of female admirers afterwards, all excited and giggly, and wanting selfies with him. All, too, were aged around the 70 mark, and thus clueless as to how you actually took a selfie, but had gathered from their grandchildren that that’s what you do when meeting your hero. So Gary had to pose with them and take the pictures – and of course did so with characteristic charm and cheer.
This year’s new lunchtime programme addition Brew and a Blether, at the Willow Tearooms, has proved a big hit, pairing the erudite curiosity of interlocutors Karine Polwart and Adam Sutherland with diverse folk luminaries including Dolina MacLennan, Josie Duncan, Hannah Rarity, Sheena Wellington. Earlier today, Sutherland’s special guest was fellow Highland fiddle genius Duncan Chisholm, the richness of whose conversation can be gauged from an audience member’s picture of them posted on Facebook, both lost in contemplation, apparently pondering the question, “What colour is D minor?”
It’s a wee while since Burns Night now, but we were gifted a lovely mental image yesterday from a longtime Celtic Connections photographer, who happened to be crossing George Square last Friday between gigs, and makes a habit whenever there of saluting Rabbie’s statue. Approaching on this occasion, he noticed that unlike some years, there were no wreaths or other conspicuous tributes – but then found that someone had laid a single red rose at the poet’s feet, which seemed most fitting of all.
As we all know (to our cost?) Celtic Connections weekends begin on Thursdays, if not before, and thus even last night, the clan was already gathering for this year’s final festival fling. The Transatlantic Sessions folks have all arrived, settled back in, and started rehearsing yesterday; a good few Showcase Scotland regulars were out and about, wresting their body-clocks straight onto Celtic time, and a glowingly happy Eddi Reader was sharing a bottle of fine red with two best pals in La Bonne Auberge, following her predictably (in the very best sense) glorious show at the King’s Theatre.
For Reader, performing in one of Glasgow’s grandest old entertainment institutions must have been an especially challenging prospect, going by her earlier tweet that playing her hometown is, in itself, “something that gives me more nerves than any other singing experience.” But she knocked it out of the park, as ever – hence her celebratory mood and that of her band, including Alan Kelly. John McCusker and Kris Drever.
Also present if not correct were a sizeable bunch of nameless musicians and singers who really shouldn’t have been out that late and that merry, given their key roles in tonight’s world première of The Bard’s Tale, in the Concert Hall’s main auditorium, presumably preceded by long and complicated sound-checks. We’re confident they’ll soldier through wo/manfully, if not without some pain.
A high proportion of Gaels swelling this happy throng gave rise to a moment’s decided perplexity on your eavesdropper’s part, while availing herself of the ladies’ cloakroom facilities. The other two cubicles’ occupants - both somewhat deep in their cups - were continuing a conversation, which initially sounded slurred to the point where actual words were wholly lost – until the realisation that they were simply slurring in Gaelic, and so were at least semi-intelligible to each other.
Celtic Connections must be the one and only time of the year when the Flying Duck’s clientele decant en masse into La Bonne Auberge. When Folkytown’s final session shut down at 2am – after a lovely, lively, gang’s-all-here gathering to round things off for 2019 – in came that final surge to assail the hotel bar’s even later licence, revealing that weekend feeling on the rise even then, and helping spark up some excellent tunes – chiefly Mr Drever duetting with an excellent button accordionist - to further sweeten the last hour.
So sweet did things get, in fact, that right at the night’s very end, in a sudden/somehow flurried exchange of views/vows, initially prompted by Tom Oakes’s expressed wish to get hold of an Irish passport, he and Ryan Murphy seemed to get engaged, after which Daniel Thorpe volunteered to give whichever was the bride away, and your own correspondent claimed the role of either bridesmaid or best man. And then it was definitely time to go home.