Tonight saw a visit to the Eagles by a healthy delegation from the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society for a few tunes, a pie or two and maybe even a small dram. Several Eagles regulars are also members of the RSPS, and there were plenty of familiar faces amongst the visitors that added to the relaxed and convivial nature of proceedings.
First up were a few sets of well-known tunes as a massed band. While our guests did a spot of fine-tuning upstairs under the expert eye / ear of Jimmy Banks, the Eagles contingent had a quick tune of the drones in preparation. There was much disappointment when it transpired that Nils Michael had turned up sans pipe, but the rest of us struggled man[and woman]fully on. There was just about enough space for everyone on the floor, and under the lead of the RSPS PM, Sandy Philip,
we launched into a few well known tunes, the 6/8s Farewell the Creeks and Leaving Port Askaig, the evergreen 3/4s The Green Hills of Tyrol, When the Battle’s O’er and Lochanside, and finishing up with Kilworth Hills by GS McLennan and The Bloody Fields of Flanders by PM John MacLellan of Dunoon (who also penned Lochanside and clearly had a knack for writing a great tune).
After a brief moment to let the dust settle after that early excitement, the first individual performance of the evening was Douglas Gardiner. Douglas elected to kick off his set with the great Peter R. Macleod 6/8, PM Sam Scott, a tune commemorating the great Scots-born Canadian piper who played the Canadian troops onto Juno Beach on D-Day in 1944. Sadly, Douglas had a minor memory lapse and completely forgot the tune at the end of the first part. Not to be discouraged, Douglas clearly subscribes to the “if at first you don’t succeed” school of thought, but promptly forgot it for a second time and gave up. Sensibly cutting his losses, he launched into Lady Diana Spencer’s Welcome to Deeside, a tune fast becoming his signature 6/8 march. There followed an excellent MSR, The Duke of Roxburgh’s Farewell to the Blackmount Forest, Piper’s Bonnet and Bessie MacIntyre. With the pipes well and truly settled, he finished up with a fine ground to the Lament for Donald of Laggan.
The baton was then passed to our guests for the next selection of tunes, with a duet from Alan Forbes and Andrew Frater, both of whom are well known piobaireachd aficionados and judges. Andrew is a man of many talents, and evoked the spirit of John Ban MacKenzie by brandishing a fine bagpipe made by his own hand and no doubt his own reeds too.
Tonight was for the lighter music, and in tribute to our venue and the associated regiment, they started out with a couple of tunes by PM Angus MacDonald – the 4/4 Colonel Charlie Workman and the 3/4 Ronald Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury. On well balanced pipes they then gave a very lively rendering of The Train Journey North and The Glasgow Police Pipers, replete with harmonies.
At this point of the evening, Tom Peterkin’s agitated state could point to only one thing – the pies were ready to be served. The Honorary PM gave the guests a quick eulogy to the quality of the pies, and a quick who’s who of the assembled resident gluttons, noting that the pie-guzzler-in-chief, Andrew Gray had slipped into the room, if that’s possible when you’re as tall as young Andrew.
The traditional PPP was replaced this week by a Post Pie Pipe Band, this time led by the Eagles’ Honorary PM, who seemed keen to rump up the tempo as they sometimes say in pipe band circles.
This time, we started with Dovecote Park and Glendaruel Highlanders, followed by what some present considered to be a daring, audacious and frankly dangerous move of taking on two competition style 2/4 marches: – Donald Maclean’s Farewell to Oban and the Highland Wedding. However, the band passed this test with flying colours, other than the writer who suffers the unfortunate malady of having had to learn a quite frankly mince pipe band setting of the Highland Wedding and can’t remember how the proper Willie Ross version goes. Never mind. More importantly, this band performance was significant in that it was the Eagles playing debut of Ian Drummond, father of young Master Cameron of that ilk and long-time Eagles member and
Talking of whom, it was time for the audience to relax once again as we were entertained by Cameron Drummond, who as usual was in top form. He had taken a new reed courtesy of the Hon President that afternoon so this was a good chance to get some moisture into it. He kicked off with the 3/4 Far O’er Struy, and after a spot of gentle reed manipulation broke into an up-tempo Knightswood Ceilidh / Abercairney Highlanders followed by the Piper’s Bonnet and Mrs MacPherson of Inveran. To finish up Cameron then played a couple of gaelic airs including Sine Bhan, then the jigs Angus John MacNeill of Barra by Archie MacNeill and the technically demanding Loch Ness Monster by Peter MacLeod Jr. A truly first rate performance, as is the norm for Cameron.
The next piper was Tom Peterkin, tonight wearing his RSPS cap. Tom can always be relied upon to give a tune you don’t hear too often, and tonight kicked off with some small 6/8s, including The Hundred Pipers and the Muckin’ o’ Geordie’s Byre. He then played a 2/4 march and concluded with the ground of Salute to Donald. As ever, his pipes were beautifully balanced with a lovely drone sound.
That concluded the “formal” part of the evening and it was left to the two respective Pipe Majors to give a vote of thanks to all present for contributing to what had been a very enjoyable evening’s entertainment. The night was still relatively young at that point, so after some mild cajoling from the Honorary PM I had a couple of tunes to break in the new sheepskin bag had tied on several days before, having been playing a Goretex bag for the last year or so. It would be inappropriate for me to pass further comment than that, other than I am loving the feel and sound of being back on the sheepskin once again!
Anyway, tonight was a slight break from the usual format but once again, a fine night was had by all and we look forward to welcoming back our guests in the near future.