Senior Moment

Tomorrow I am scheduled for a senior moment.

Back in July I was a prize in a drawing at a family reunion. Actually, my piping was the prize, but you get the idea.

So, the family member who won me (my piping) is redeeming her prize tomorrow. She coordinates a monthly activity for a group of seniors in her town and tomorrow they get to experience a Drive-by Piping. This will be a senior-speed Drive-by, so it will last a little longer than usual. I am to play, talk a little and then play again. It’s all part of a hectic day for me (four activities back to back).

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Happy New Year

My pipe band year is just ending.

My band, the Wasatch and District Pipe Band has wrapped up its season with very creditable placings in Grade 4 at the BIG games in Pleasanton, California. My old band, The Celtic Spirit Pipe Band of Western New York is finishing off a very successful summer at the Celtic Festival in Olcott, New York. My son brought in four red fall leaves from the garden yesterday morning.

This is the time of year when bands choose new tunes for next year, to work on all winter. I will soon be starting a regular lesson again, I’m playing two personal gigs in the next two weeks, and there is fledgling Piobaireachd Society starting here in Utah.

It’s an exciting time. Happy New Year.

Piobaireachd – get it while it’s hot.

Any serious Ceol Mor fans should check out the BBC Radio Scotland Pipeline show for this week while they still can. It features Murray Henderson playing “Lament for the Harp Tree” at the Northern Meeting. This tune may not be the longest, but it has to be a contender. I timed it at 25 minutes and change. Anyway length apart, it’s a very beautiful tune, and Murray’s bagpipe stayed in great condition throughout.

You have until a week from tomorrow to listen. Then the BBC switches to the next edition of the show.

Pirates and Punk

OK, so I’ve been thinking of cool tunes to add to my Drive-by piping repertoire. Seems like people always smile when you play a tune they don’t expect to hear on the pipes.

The Pirate of Sainte Mary’s is a piper who busks, and he plays a version of the Star Wars theme. Sounds like it’s a hit with his audience.

I’d like to work up some punk standards on the pipes.

My tiny list so far:

I Fought the Law – The Clash

Blitzkrieg Bop – The Ramones (honestly, with three notes you can probably make anything by The Ramones work on pipes)

It’s early days yet – any suggestions? I’ll update the list soon….

World Championships on TV

For the first time in its history, the TV cameras were at the World Pipe Band Championships this year.

The BBC sent a full outside broadcast unit to the event and will broadcast highlights sometime in September. Through the power of the internet we in the USA can watch at least some of the show. Check out a clip of the Field Marshal Montgomery’s winning medley performance: Click on WATCH ONLINE.

There are some good links on this page too.

Salt Lake Scots outdoor concert

Last week I saw one of the Salt Lake area bands, the Salt Lake Scots, play an open-air concert. The venue was Liberty Park in Salt Lake City – the park hosts a weekly concert series for musics and dance of the world during the summer.

Anyway, the Scots had to go on with only 6 pipers – the stage is so small their numbers were restricted. Despite this they seemed to settle into playing with a small group very well. The first couple of sets were a little ragged here and there but they soon found their groove, and the playing was excellent after that. I spoke to Jason Killpack (the Scots’ P/M) after the show and he pointed out a couple of times where they had made mistakes but I had thought they were intentional tune modifications. I guess they play confidently even when they go wrong!

The show was hosted competently and entertainingly by Drum Major (and piper) Jack Marinello, who always makes the Scots interesting to listen to. For me the highlight was, as always, their competition MSR. They have an excellent march (Bonnie Dunoon) which you don’t hear much, and a very tuneful Strathspey (The Caledonian Canal) and Reel (Captain Lachlan MacPhail of Tiree). It’s a nice set all round.

The band stayed afterwards for a meet and greet with interested audience members. It was a very pleasant evening and the Salt Lake Scots have once again represented piping with pride and excellence. Nice work guys.