2019 was a very busy year for Celtic Connections. We recruited more musicians including 3 accomplished fiddlers, a banjo player and a bass player. So 20 in all which makes it great in the session but a bit more complex when playing for gigs when we have to field a smaller group! Everyone wants to play!

 

2019 was a very busy year for Celtic Connections. We recruited more musicians including 3 accomplished fiddlers, a whistler/singer/dancer, a banjo player and a bass player. So 20 in all which makes it great in the session but a bit more complex when playing for gigs when we have to field a smaller group! Everyone wants to play!

January saw a repeat of our regular Open Night when we provide food and drink for our friends, who come to listen to our music and dance to our jugs and reels. Sequence dancing and line dancing it turns out match up very well.

In February we did the first of our charity gigs for the year. We played for the residents of Mount Carmel, our local psychiatric hospital, at Karnival. Everyone dressed up in colourful costume and seemed to enjoy our music, banging and crashing away on the percussion we had distributed to them, and dancing and singing to the disco which followed us.

March saw us play on the stage above the street in Strait Street (the famous "Gut") for St Patricks Night. It was a bit hairy getting up onto the stage with all our instruments and the PA equipment as we had to navigate a building site to get there. We felt a bit distant from the audience who were drinking in the street below, and tho' it was an experience to play on the flying stage, I don't think we'll be doing it again!

We had a quiet summer gig-wise, with only our regular Sunday meetings and many of us were away for a big part of it, so we just enjoyed the camaraderie and learned some more new tunes.

October was busy. On Saturday 5th we played at Casino Maltese for Notte Bianca  again - a yearly event now. On that night all the buildings normally closed to the public are open to view. It is an Arts-fest also with live bands, musicians, mimes, actors, puppeteers and all manner of artists scattered throughout Valletta. It is very crowded in the streets and we were very happy being tucked into our usual space in the foyer of this grand club, which used to be part of the Treasury of the Knights of St John.

Then the following night we made our debut at the Hatter. This is a new Irish pub in Gzira. It is quite small, but we are all made welcome and although it is a bit of a squash, the atmosphere is very good and the landlords look after us extremely well. There must be over 200 hats of various kinds distributed throughout the pub, mainly stuck to the ceiling! We play there now on 1st Sunday of every month and on third Monday we have an ad-hoc traditional Irish session where whoever wants to can turn up and join in. Gerry and Shane the landlords have just put in draught Guinness which has doubled their sales, but they also do the best hot toddy! Huge thanks to Anne our low-whistle player from France who introduced us. One of the great things to happen this year.

The other major event was our first professional Recording at Temple Studios  in Mistra Bay on 17th November.
Thanks here go to Pete, our newly acquired bass player, who made the introduction to David at the studio. We did not realise how lucky we were to have this particular studio until we realised bands fly in from all over Europe to record her and it is one of the major recording venues for Joseph Calleja the renowned "Maltese Tenor". This was great fun, if hard work and a bit daunting. David was a stickler for precision and was a bit taken aback by the concept of "off-beat" and he picked up the slightest problem, even Duncan slightly clipping a drumstick and me omitting a note because I could not flick the harp lever quickly enough. Once he realised that we were not a strict tempo band but more a session group, he relaxed a bit and went for effect rather than precision. We are still waiting to hear the master track but from what I can hear it sounds good. Decision now is whether to remaster so we can burn CDs without losing any quality.

On 15th December we played for the Lions Club in Palazzo Capua for their Christmas party. It was a jolly night with wonderful food which we were generously hosted to.

For our final major event in 2019 we finished as we started, with an Open Night for our friends. We had our biggest attendance ever with 70 folk present.

On 22nd we had a little band party of our own, pre-Christmas to celebrate a very busy fun year of music, friendship and fun. We were able to relax and contemplate our first truly major gig at the International Whiskey Festival on January 25th 2020 - anticipated 2000 attendees over the evening. EEK!!!

Here ends our 2019 musical journey!