Here in Glasgow, the wee hours of Wednesday morning, January 24th, are all about enjoying newly made memories of Tuesday, the 23rd. The wind howled all day and the rain came pouring, pelting down into the evening. It was a good day to stay tucked inside my warm hotel, an 1820s townhouse with plenty of contemporary comforts that in no way obscure the history of the place or that discourage the ghosts of past glories from observing the sooty rain through stained glass window panes. Great breakfast of porridge served up like a work of art in a white china soup plate with honey, milk, nuts and seeds. Perfect tea---the water is soft here. The weather is not. Transportation...train travel in some UK quarters is halted, I hear, and the taxi drivers make sure to assist with the opening of doors that the gale can easily pull from a traveler's hand. It's beautiful in Glasgow.
This post comes with a special note of thanks from this American wayfaring stranger to Joanne and Alex for fine company at The Winged Ox and for sharing an amazing night of music--your kindness and generosity were indeed lovely!
I am here for the Celtic Connections Festival, now in its 31st year. It is my second year in its audience, and I am so grateful to be here. It's January and a threshold to a new season is crossed. I think this may be my "do-over" year, when I will not miss folk artists, again, who had passed my way before.
When I was very young, my opportunities for wandering were limited, but my passion for the ballads and tunes would extend from early childhood family songs, rhymes, and games to newly emerging artists of my youth who were weaving and wearing mantles of their own making.
Tonight that mantle was worn by Jacqui McShee and her Pentangle in St. Luke's performance venue. I've never been in her audience before---decades of song delivered to me by old vinyl. Tonight she stepped on stage with 80 years to her credit. Her speaking voice was at times a whispery waver, but when she approached the microphone, the volume of her singing stepped up with her. I could hear her voice spin out notes as real as vinyl is not.
I tend to have discussions these days about women singers, performers of many, many decades who do not go gentle and who once may have been silenced by vocal cords or hearts that betrayed them. They now refuse to be quiet; they are not retired nor do they re-tread lightly. Jacqui McShee, you were an inspiration tonight, dressed in gold in Glasgow! The wind sang at the top of her voice...and so did you---thank you!