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Mad Axemen, No Porridge & Great Music in Glasgow!

Mike Harding | 15:44 UK time, Wednesday, 11 February 2009

D'you know that bit in The Shining when Jack Nicholson rambles down the corridors of
that closed-down hotel with an axe in his hand, chopping his way through doors?

Well, the hotel I stayed in for the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow was like that: at
any moment I expected the door of my bedroom to splinter and the leering face
to come looning in hissing "Here's Johnny!"

And where would the mad axeman find me? Hiding in the bathroom amongst the seventeen different varieties of mould and fungi, or under the bed with the mice and
other creatures - great, small and itchy - that had made it their home.

I asked for porridge at breakfast only to be told that there was "no porridge".

Cribbens, help ma boab! I remember a time when porridge was compulsory, all over Scotland you had to have it with every meal, they even gave it you in your whisky in something called Athol Brose!

Still, I wasn't there to be mollycoddled - I was there for the music, and how brilliant
it was!

Transatlantic Sessions
with Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas masterminding two nights
of wonderful performances from Tim O'Brien, Nanci Griffith, Kathy Mattea and
Eddi Reader (amongst many others) were truly wonderful.

Sharon Shannon was terrific,
as was Arlo Guthrie and Dougie MacLean.

As for Cara Dillon, she was the
highlight of the festival for me.

Wherever you went there was fantastic music, from trad singers a capella in the bars, to
big bands letting rip at the Old Fruitmarket; all masterminded by Donald Shaw
of Capercaillie who, as ever, did a genius job.

You can hear me presenting an hour of highlights from the festival in my special Celtic Connections show all of this

I was only there for a few days. Next year it would be great to spend more time there, and take my banjo up like I used to do and sit talking rowlocks with Shane McGowan in the bar.

Only I don't want to stay at that hotel again, unless they get rid of Jack Nicholson and put
porridge back on the menu.


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