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Celtic Connection’s Lesley Shaw: Guest blog Pt 2

Here’s Part 2 of our Guest Blog by Lesley Shaw, Producer at Celtic Connections, one of the busiest women in the business, it’s a great read. Thanks Lesley, we don’t know how you found the time!

Lesley after a couple of drams and a hoolie

When or how did you get into folk/trad music?

Many moons ago I was played tenor drum with Coalburn Pipe Band, so my background was the Pipe Band scene. The first band I saw was Capercaillie when I was 8 years old in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, and that’s when I became interested in trad music outside of Pipe Band. When I finished studying at Glasgow Caledonian University, I worked for the Piping Live festival for a summer and fell in love with the scene. Ross Ainslie then asked me to work for a band he was in called India Alba with Nigel Richard and two Indian musicians, Sharat Chandra Srivastava and Gyan Singh. I did some agency work and tour managing for them and started working for Celtic Connections at the same time. Celtic Connections introduced me to a whole other world of music and I’m still excited by the new music we get through every day. My current favourite is the new Kinnaris Quintet album ‘Free One’. You should check it out if you haven’t already!

The folk/trad scene really is one huge family, I feel incredibly lucky I’ve met so many amazing friends through it and its provided me with opportunities I never even dreamed of.

Do you play/sing yourself?

No and it’s better for the world that it stays that way!

Granted the ability to play any instrument well, what would you choose?

 I’d love to be able to play piano. It’s just such a beautiful instrument and I love the thought of being able to sit and play in an almost meditative state. Also, I think the Hang would be amazing. It’s made by an instrument-maker in Switzerland and there’s a huge waiting list for musicians trying to purchase it. It has really elegant tones… and when you carry it on your back you feel like a turtle!

You are the maverick svengali behind a nascent trad supergroup. You can have anyone in the line-up, dead or alive. Who is in the band?

Oh…. Good question! This has taken so long everyone on my initial lists were basically, Treacherous Orchestra, Grit Orchestra and Transatlantic Sessions! Narrowed down, I’d have, Gordon Duncan, Angus Grant, John Doyle, Su-a Lee, Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, Andy Thorburn, Sheila Stewart, (and can I have all of Capercaillie? If not, can I add Karen Matheson to the list …) I don’t want to stop… there’s so many!

My favourite track is The Plooin’ Match by Jock Duncan – the live version on the ‘A Celebration of Gordon Duncan: A National Treasure Live in Concert 2007’ album. If one song/version could make me smile every single time it would be this.

Do you get a break when each CC finishes or is it straight back into planning/organising the next one?

Things definitely slow down when the festival finished but I find it easier to keep going and try to work towards the end of March around the end of the financial year to have a break. There’s so much accounting, reporting and evaluating that it’s easier to keep the momentum going than stopping and starting again. Booking something gives you something to work towards, this year I had an amazing trip to Sri Lanka and the end of March. I’m also juggling a Masters at Glasgow Caledonian Univeristy this year so it looks like I’m back in lectures the morning after the festival finishes in 2019. 😢

How do you unwind afterwards? Couple of drams and a hoolie or two paracetamol and a duvet?

If you asked me 12 years ago, I’d have been enjoying the festival club for a week after it finished! These days though it usually involves, cleaning my flat, putting on new bedding, getting a supermarket shop delivered and hibernating for a day!

Dates of our tours for Celtic Connections here:  Merchant City Trad Trail