Glasgow Letter with Robert Robertson

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Glasgow in Lorient

As I write this week’s Glasgow Letter, I am sitting here in Lorient at the Interceltique Festival and basking in a wonderful European heatwave with the sound of the Bombarde (a traditional Breton bagpipe) caressing my ears in its own unique and unavoidable fashion.

In such circumstances, it can sometimes be difficult to turn my mind to what is happening in Glasgow and, this week, I have been having a particular struggle finding a suitable Glasgow subject about which to write.

As I sat in the backstage area of the Scottish pavilion and stared blankly at my laptop, the reason for my struggle suddenly hit me: the majority of the Glasgow music scene were, in fact, sitting right under my nose here in Brittany.

Blasta, Blazin’ Fiddles, Breabach, Elephant Sessions, Fara, Hò-rò, Ross Ainsley and Ali Hutton, Sophie Stephenson, Talisk, and Tannara are all acts whose members can often be found in bars in the West End of Glasgow playing a tune.

I can only imagine that bars such as the Ben Nevis and the Lismore are a little quieter this week while such musicians have swapped Finnieston and
Partick for baguettes and bombardes.

Beesnees Media, based in Glasgow, are over here filming for BBC Alba – so a lot of the events will be documented for audiences back home.

Even my own flatmate is here with Beesnees – it really does feel like a Scottish invasion of Lorient and as though much of the Glasgow folk scene has uprooted, headed to France, and carried on business as usual for the week.

The organisers of ‘the year of Scotland’ have done a fantastic job in organising such an invasion.

We do, of course, have company out here. Every year, about 900,000 people descend upon Lorient for the nine-day festival and this year is apparently the busiest yet.

It is hard to imagine such an immense number of people until you physically try to get from A to B in time for an interview and get caught in the huge and impenetrable throng of crowds – as I have discovered to
my detriment a number of times so far.

Every second person in the town (no matter what nationality) is bedecked in tartan, which makes for an incredible spectacle. The Bretons have their own kilt and tartan tradition.

Yesterday, I even spotted a gentleman wearing a Glasgow Warriors rugby top on top of his kilt. Assuming I had bumped into a Glaswegian, I explained that I lived in Glasgow and asked if he was a regular
attendee to watch the Warriors at Scotstoun. ‘Je suis desolé,’ he replied. ‘I do not understand English.’

What’s on
Thursday August 10: Pipe Idol – the grand final at 5pm in the Strathclyde Suite of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

Friday August 11: The Peatbog Faeries and Jose Manuel Tejedor Trio at 7.30pm in the Drygate Brewery. Over-18s only.

Saturday August 12: The After Worlds Shindig Cèilidh at 9pm in the National Piping Centre.

Pub scene

Park Bar.

Friday: Scott Harvey.

Saturday: Dun Mòr.

Sunday: World Pipe Band Championships Hangover Cure.

Islay Inn.

Friday August 11: Gunna Sound.

Saturday August 12: Deep River.