I’m sure I’m not the only one battling to negotiate the higgledy-piggledy hotch-potch of road and tram works in Edinburgh’s Haymarket area, but the welcome tonight was well worth it. A great wee crowd tonight with lots of familiar faces, good chat, lovely tunes and sweet, mellow pipes!
Once the PM had put some air through his pipes Chris Gibb took to the floor and wasted no time in livening the evening up, cracking straight into a hornpipe and jig of The Man From Skye and Brae Riach. Chris’s treasured Lawries are sounding very well, well ahead of the London competition that marks the beginning of the new season – although to many of us, it feels like the end! Chris continued with a classic MSR of Donald MacLellan of Rothesay, The Bob of Fettercairn and The Sound of Sleat, and fired on into his final set which was a good-going selection of reels from one of Duncan Johnston’s collections.
Donald Macleod continued the evening, and was brave enough to point out that this was his first return to Eagles since our first meeting! Donald played some great marches including Colin Thompson and The Knightswood Ceilidh, followed by a lovely Air,
The Hills of Kintail and jigs John Patterson’s Mare and the The Rakes of Kildare. Donald is a Highland man, and I can confirm that he plays just as well at silly o’clock on the hard sand of the beaches of North Uist as he does in the warm and comfy surroundings of the Scots Guards Club. We sincerely hope it won’t be as long until his next return to Eagles.
The pies were particularly delicious tonight, and while many were still munching on their second (or third…or fourth!!!) pie, EPS President, Colin MacLellan, struck up the pipes and gave us some tunes. Amongst the airs, jigs and lovely wee marches was a tune by Archie MacNeill by the name of Bernalee’s Wedding March. Great wee tune. This weekend’s Glenfiddich Piping Championship at Blair Castle will see Colin on the judges’ bench for the piobaireachd event, and our next piper was using tonight as preparation for that event.
Iain Speirs qualifies for this year’s Glenfiddich by virtue of his winning of the Senior Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering, but warmed everyone up with some ceol beag, including an air that I distinctly remember from Fred Morrison’s 1993 recording, The Broken Chanter. It is a tune called Malcolm Ferguson and is hauntingly beautiful. I for one was being spoiled tonight with favourites left, right and centre, and Iain continued with another showing of Donald MacLellan of Rothesay in his MSR set before settling the pipe for Thug mi pog do Lamh an Righ (the most Gaelic I know…), I Got a Kiss of the King’s Hand. Isn’t this a fabulous tune. Based mostly around A, C, F and E with the odd B and occasional low G, it is crafted so beautifully as to use contrasting and complimentary phrases, and in Iain’s hands is simply a delight.
With the Premier Piping Season in its intensity, it has been decided to alter the timetable slightly, and hold an additional Eagles meeting on Tuesday 1st November to coincide with visiting international players and judges. Bob Worrall will be having a tune, as will Bruce and Alex Gandy.
The evening shall be dedicated to EPS Life Member and all-round wonderful man, Jimmie MacGregor, who passed away just a few short hours after our last EPS meeting. His funeral will be on Tuesday morning where he will be laid to rest at Blairgowrie Parish church. We will then head to Edinburgh for a few tunes, a dram and a good old natter to celebrate his life.