So here’s my round up part deux of Celtic Connections festival… As I mentioned at the tail end of my last blog, simply focussing on the larger gigs that take place at Celtic would be belying the very essence of the festival itself. Should you so wish, you could quite merrily entertain yourself in and around the city from dusk until, well, dusk, with a plethora of workshops, more informal gigs, late night sessions and of course a spot of dancing at the infamous festival club.
The workshops come in all shapes and sizes and are open to participants of all ages and levels. This year, festival-goers were able to try their hand at the fiddle, mandolin, whistle, ukulele, Gaelic singing and harmonising. In addition to these there were the children’s workshops – where you could take your bairns along to percussion sessions for ‘wee ones’ or the Lullabies: Sing a Song of Sleep with Chrissie Stewart, which I was able to attend with my friend and her little boy. We, along with dozens of other parents, learned songs such as ‘Ally Bally Bee’, although I can safely say not much sleeping went on…
Daytime sessions included those hosted by Hazy Recollections – whose aim it is to celebrate and connect acts whose music meets at the boundaries of indie, folk and roots. Special guests over the three Sundays included The Dirty Beggars, Julia and the Doogans, Findlay Napier and the Bar Room Mountaineers, Captain and the Kings and The Hidden Lane Choir. And then there were the Brel sessions, taking place in the Belgian bar in the city’s West End. Acts who played at the intimate bar included Federation Of The Disco Pimp (a 7-piece Scottish band who combine elements of old-school funk, disco, psychedelic and jazz) and Louis Abbott (of Admiral Fallow – who went down a treat at their Celtic gig at ABC) and friends.
It was around about this time – post workshops and afternoon sessions, but pre gigs – that I’d try to grab a nap to re-energise, very much in the knowledge of what the night had in store for me: namely the Late Night Sessions and the FESTIVAL CLUB! Both kick off at around 10pm, and go on to the wee small hours. The line-up for each isn’t decided until mere hours beforehand. Spectacular acts who played at the Festival Club while I was there included Blazin’ Fiddles, Manran, Sweetback Sisters, I Draw Slow, Donald Macdonald and the Islands, Shooglenifty, Rua Macmillan… The list is truly inexhaustive. And the atmosphere here is as important and impressive as the lineup. Another blog compared it, very rightly, to that of a spontaneous house party – and acts that have been playing are more often than not found kicking about and enjoying the festivities both before and after performances.
All in all – a riotous, if not completely exhausting – time was had by all. I’ll be back up in two shakes of a haggis’ tail.