After three different flights and 30 hours of total travel time, I finally made it to Scotland! My bass and luggage however were lucky enough to spend an extra night in London. Thank you American Airlines.
Celtic Connections was amazing. I played two fantastic Concerts with Lissa Schneckenburger. We also taped a performance for Scottish television which will air sometime later in the spring. The band for this festival was Keith Murphy on guitar, Stefan Amidon on percussion, me on bass and of course, Lissa on fiddle and vocals.
It's really great to play with Keith, Stefan and Lissa. I think we really play well together and we performed a lot of music from Lissa's new CD, which has just been finished up and will be released in April.
The first night we opened up for the wonderful Irish singer, Heidi Talbot. It was a great show. The venue was a beautiful converted church here in Glasgow. It seems that this city is filled with one stunning venue after another. Check it out.
Scotland does have some odd food though. Everyone knows about haggis, but I discovered this on a menu:
Rumbledethumps? What the hell is that? Seriously, that's the weirdest, most non-descriptive name for food I have ever seen. At first I thought is was some sort of inside joke to puzzle Americans, but it turns out it's mashed potatoes with cabbage and onions in it. It was actually pretty darn tasty. Here's some more information on this delightful cultural cuisine.
The other surprising thing that Scotland has a lot of: Starbucks. Within three blocks of our hotel in Glasgow there were four Starbucks. Seriously. Now don't get me wrong, I'm thankful to have reliable espresso while in the UK, but this was a bit out of hand. Considering it's so hard to find decent coffee in Europe (Italy excluded of course) I was thinking that some of these could perhaps be more evenly disbursed throughout the EU.
Much of the fun of this festival is the late night party. After all of the concerts are over everyone convenes at the hotel where there is a festival club. Bands play informal short sets there and inevitably, you find yourself up until dawn playing music and hanging out. Here's me and tenor banjo whiz, Eamon Coyne getting a good start.
We even managed to keep Keith up until the wee hours, which is no small feat. Here's the proof.
The highlight of the festival for me was a concert by the Swedish band, Vasen. I think that this was the most exciting musical performance i have ever seen. Seriously amazing. It was as close to perfection as it can get. I was blown away, inspired, and humbled by their performance.
Here is youtube clip of them on tour in Japan