The night got off to a sharp start, with 5 people in the house by 8pm (not including the bar staff) and up to 16 by 8.15.
The Hon PM started off proceedings with some lovely slow airs and a waltz on a sonorous bagpipe – looking very smart in sage tweed. He moved on to some classic 4/4 marches including only very occasional busking.
A French tourist family was soon dragged in off the street, appearing to be in equal parts bemused, interested and alarmed.
The Champion Piper of Blair Atholl rocked up around 8.30 and announced that he had aching muscles due to mountain biking. Readers are free to guess which muscles were sore.
The young lady golfer
Robert Gray was the next piper to play, beginning with wee marches including the lovely melodic Bloody Fields of Flanders, then moving on to the meatier John MacDonald of Glencoe and John MacDonald’s welcome to S Uist (not the same John MacDonald I’m told), Maggie Cameron and the Sound of Sleat. With the bagpipe singing, Robert finished with a slow air,
the Man from Skye, and Cutting Bracken. Testament to the quality of the performance, the French family remained in situ
Next to take the floor was Peter McAlister, who normally brings an interesting twist to his EP performances.
Peter giving us the chat
This night was no different, and Peter initiated a competition: name the old decrepit hand-written book (which he waved around to let us all have a look), with clues to be found in the tunes played, and the low pitch of the pipe. The tunes were fragments of compositions by John MaCcoll and there was an entertaining range of suggested book names entered into the competition. Even the French people had a bash. The correct answer, given by Donald MacLeod, was “John MacColl’s”. Tom Peterkin did not manage to win, despite disgracefully cheating by entering three times. Donald was announced as
No beer or pie stains please lads
winner, whisky was distributed as his prize, followed by (perhaps unwisely), the book itself to allow a closer look. Peter proceeded to play a few selections from the book, including Lament for Red John and the Herringwife, then a segment of the piobaireachd The MacDonalds are Simple, demonstrating the practice of playing fast and loose with time signatures, which was the norm at the time.
Craig Martin was up next and started with some 6/8 marches then on to the 2/4 march Donald MacLellan of Rothesay (which I’m told includes the only C to D taorluath in all of piping), possibly Duncan MacColl, then the Donald MacLeod
strathspey Sandy MacPherson, Maggie Cameron (popular lass), Major David Manson and Bessie McIntyre again. A late arrival to the crowd attempted to slink in unnoticed during this set, somewhat hindered by wearing a high-vis jacket. Craig finished off in style with Jim Tweedie’s Sealegs and the classic jig, John Paterson’s Mare (still no sign of JP himself around EP these days!)
Next to play was me, so I’ll not say much about that except to say that playing in the informal and congenial setting of the Eagle Pipers was, as always, very enjoyable.
The Lament for Patrick Og
Rounding off the night, and taking on the mantle of piobaireachd performer of the forntnight, was Tracey Williams. Tracey warmed up with some marches including the excellent March of the Champion Supreme by Ed Neigh, and on to some bigger marches including Jeannie Caruthers and Donald MacLellan of Rothesay. A treat was to follow – a beautiful interpretation of one of the greatest of the great piobaireachd compositions – Lament for Patrick Og MacCrimmon.
An enjoyable night, as always, and we look forward to the next instalment – welcoming the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band on 11th June.