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[personal profile] mschatelaine
What an amazing couple of weeks. It would take too long to do it justice, but here are the bullet points.

Friday 20th - Blues night at the Holiday Inn - the Nimmo Brothers, a good Glasgow blues band and then Ernie Hawkins playing fantastic Piedmont guitar rags. I didn't even know you could play ragtime on a guitar. Then on to the Old Fruitmarket and the Duhks and Session A9, then back to the Holiday Inn for the Festival Club. Part of the Club is a session called the House of Song, and I sat there taking my turn to sing until four AM.

Saturday 21st - wandering around the Concert Hall, looking at the stands, listening to people playing in little groups, browsing the CDs; I found a copy of Mike Harding's Bomber's Moon CD, which I've been trying to get hold of for twenty years, on and off. Then in for a look at the Danny Kyle Open Stage, and new bands trying to get recognition.

Monday 22nd - The Radio Ballads in the Concert Hall, with John Tams, Karine Polwart, Kate Rusby, Bob Fox, Jez Lowe, John McCusker, Andy Cutting, Andy Seward, and Barry Coope. Fifty years ago the first, ground-breaking Radio Ballads were put together by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, when they went out with a tape recorder and recorded the lives and voices of ordinary people, then wrote songs inspired by the recordings. Last year a new set of Radio Ballads were recorded and written. All of the music that night was fantastic; some of it uplifting, some heartbreaking.

Tuesday 23rd - meeting Eliza and her friends, whose sister had a spare ticket for the BBC Four recording of highlights from the Festival at the Old Fruitmarket. The show included Uncle Earl, Shooglenifty, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Tejedor, and others. Fascinating watching the cutting and setting that goes on when a show is being recorded for TV.

Wednesday 24th - Word Dogs! The exhibitionist arm of the Glasgow SF Writer's Circle. Readers were Mark Harding, Michael Collins, Eliza Chan, Neil Williamson, Rich Mosses, Gavin Inglis, your humble servant, and Hal Duncan. A great time was had, the venue was well-filled and cozy, and we made some money on the door, thanks to [ profile] munchkinstein and [ profile] psychochicken and the other beer monsters. Next performance will be in May.

Thursday 25th - Murnie, Neil Williamson's band, played at the Admiral Bar. Murnie were great, the other two bands I was less into, and don't remember the names of. Murnie play rock with interesting and weird lyrics; the band on before them was a terrible thrash/punk band whose drummer hammered a dent six inches wide into his drumskin; the band after Murnie was a twee indie band.

Friday 26th - Dervish with Luka Bloom; Luka Bloom is an Irish singer/guitarist, Dervish are an Irish folk band. Both good, but fairly trad. Then to Nice and Sleazy, to meet the usual suspects, then to Variety, where Hal Duncan got recognised, then on to a place called Box, then when that got boring on to the Holiday Inn, to talk to pretty girls and listen to sessions of fiddlers playing until the small hours of the morning. I left at five AM and they were still going strong.

Saturday 27th - Over to Andy Miller's to talk about and play guitars, then over to the Garage to hear Chumbawamba in the company of [ profile] munchkinstein and then to a party on Byres Road at the flat of one of Andy's friends, a Swedish design student, to talk to more pretty girls until the small hours of the morning. Chumbawamba do some great English folk harmony, and some really scathing political rants. Great fun.

Tuesday 30th - The Ballads of the Book; a project put together from an idea by Edwin Morgan and Roddy Woomble, this is an album of collaborations between Scottish writers and poets and Scottish musicians. I was there to listen to the song that Hal Duncan wrote for Aereogramme, and also because Mags, a friend of mine and Hal's who produced a documentary of the process, had told me at Word Dogs that they were going to the Festival Club after the show and invited me along. Hal's song was great, and so were the other performers, but the standout for me was The Good Years, by Karine Polwart from poetry by Edwin Morgan. Then at the Festival Club, which is an extra venue where the acts that have been playing officially that day take another turn, I got to hear Eddi Reader, singing Muddy Water. What a night for fantastic songs.

Wednesday 31st - a half day off, because I would have been a zombie else. The night before, I cried off at four AM when everyone else was going along to Hal's to keep partying.

Friday 2nd - the Peatbog Faeries at the Classic Grand; one of the best gigs I went to, second perhaps only to the Radio Ballads, and completely different. The Peatbog Faeries are from this brand of music that has been going for the last ten or twenty years, which is a mad fusion of Scottish traditional and funk and latin and African and anything else they can get their hands on. The crowd was roaring for the band from the very start, the venue was small and packed, the atmosphere was fantastic and the music was great. Then to Stravaigin's for champagne at Hal's not-launch party for Ink and talking to my pal Helena until six AM.

Saturday 3rd - I thought it was going to be a quiet night but noooo... Neil invited me along to the Ministry of Burlesque's night at the Classic Grand, where Emma, his partner, was working as an usherette. This was the first time I'd seen a burlesque show, which is a fascinating and often hilarious type of music-hall. The show was great, sexy but not sleazy and very funny. The audience were almost as interesting as the show; those who were there by the end were all ones who were into burlesque and had dressed up in style for the evening. I left at 3 AM, but found that that's kicking out time for most of the clubs in the town centre, and the bus drove past me, already packed. Taxi? by the time I'd got to the end of the queue, I could have walked home, so I did.

Sunday 4th - A lesson after far too little sleep, with Mark Duff of Capercaillie, in the whistle. We got a run-down of the basic ornamentations and an idea of how to go on to make whistle playing interesting and a classic element of folk music. Then in the evening, the Klezmatics with Moishe's Bagel. Good foot-tapping bouncy stuff to end the festival with.

This is the second Celtic Connections I've been to and each time I've come away with a new favourite group or musician that I'd never heard of and was completely blown away by. Last year it was Bellowhead; this year it's Karine Polwart. She wrote a large percentage of the Radio Ballads, and her songs were the standouts for me in the show, just as it was hers that made the Ballad of the Book show for me.

Ballad Musicians

Date: 2007-06-22 09:40 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
It's a good review with music, I'm expecting its all about ballad musicians.

Re: Ballad Musicians

Date: 2007-06-22 05:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ballads are just one form of folk song. A lot of other traditional forms make the basis of that kind of music as well; jigs, reels, strathspeys and other dances, laments, pushtand other more modern song types, and styles of Scottish, Irish, English, Cajun, New Orleans blues and other Americana as well as fusion types.


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