Celtic Connections is on in Glasgow. This winter music festival of concerts, ceilidhs and general get-togethers have come a long way since it started 22 years ago. I recall the early days when it was largely about groups of Scottish and Irish youngsters and bands arriving with their fiddles.
It now is more about "... folk, roots, indie, world and traditional music festival celebrating the links between Celtic music and cultures across the globe" i.e. based in Scotland but very much it is a joining-up with home-grown Scottish talent.
We had a really good night out! I have to hand it to organizers of these and similar big junkets; we would certainly not be heading into the city centre on a wet Sunday night but for the fact that we are meeting friends for dinner and heading to a musical venue right across the road from the restaurant.
The evening from start to finish - over dinner and at the concert - was all about bagpipes. The concert was called Just for Gordon and was a celebration of a Perthshire piper who died about 10 years ago aged 41. Clearly a lot of work had gone into the venue which was multi-faceted and ... ran to time! (Believe me they don't usually!)
The name of Gordon Duncan we did not now as he was after our time. The lineup was: Ali Hutton, Ross Ainslie, Ian Duncan, Angus MacColl, Allan MacDonald, Stuart Liddell, Tannahill Weavers, Duncan Chisholm, Julie Fowlis, Susana Seivane, National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland, Innes Watson, Duncan Lyall, Jarlath Henderson.
Yes, they could play - all very snappy with pipes in front of stage and rock band musicians behind. Yes, big speakers and everything connected to amplifiers. Bagpipes amped up? She-e-e-esh!
We had a table on the floor and enjoyed the lively, full hall atmosphere a bit like a son et lumière show. It was a long way from the military stuff I have listened to (and, indeed, played on the fiddle) all my life. However, it is definitely all good stuff; it means it is now "cool" to play the pipes* ... and that has to be A GOOD THING!
This is a photo of Gordon Duncan taken from the website of the Gordon Duncan Trust [www.gordonduncan.co.uk]
* Over the years worked hard at getting the Glasgow Herald to treat piping events seriously. I recall one year when there was a photo, I think the only one, taken at The World Piping event in Glasgow Green and it was of a 2 year old boy sound asleep slumped against his father's big bass drum.