April Fool. Who got caught? The hens laying square eggs, that featured on breakfast TV raised a smile, but gave an early warning not to be duped later in the day.
The weather was dreadful and Manchester United were playing in Europe but that did not stop the worthies turning out and what a great night we had.
Once the P/M had broken the ice young Andrew Allison took to the floor under the watchful eye of mama Allison. Andrew has great hands and is very musical. The next big step for him is to move away from a big band instrument to something more refined for the solo world but boy can he play. Once settled he gave us the Donald McLeod composition P/M J. McWilliams, followed by Maggie Cameron and The Brown Haired Maiden. Later in the evening Iain Speirs also played P/M J McWilliams so here’s a bit about the tune and the man himself.
Donald MacLeod wrote the following inscription on the original copy of his composition: ‘Jim, this is the only way I can show my appreciation of your interest in youth and the Great Highland Bagpipe’. Donald.
Jim McWilliams was born on May 31st, 1938 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in the heart of the prairies. He spent much of his early life in a homesteader’s lean-to perched above a bend of the Moose Jaw Creek.
In 1956, he enlisted in the Canadian Army as a Piper destined for the Black Watch of Canada. Things didn’t work out that way, he emerged from Camp Borden, Ontario, as a Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, and with a B.A. in English and History from the University of Saskatchewan.
Jim devoted much of his free time topiping and he compiled a “History of Piping” to be used at the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts in the Piping and Drumming School, which he founded.
Next for shaving was Tom Peterkin who it has to be said, despite the presence of a Mrs Peterkin, is maintaining his usual standards in the dress and deportment front! Once Tom had talked to his bass drone and the pipe was settled he gave is the lovely Pipe Major Sandy Spence-Atholl Highlanders followed by Achany Glen (A wooded glen in Sutherland, that occupies the valley of the River Shin between Loch Shin and the River Oykel). He then went into some 6/8s that included the little heard (General) Wades Welcome to Inverness that is to be found in the G.S. McLennan collection under the name Lillie Long-Wade’s Welcome to Inverness composed by P/M Robert Meldrum.
The PPP was Craig Sutherland who was keen to get onto the floor and run through some of his repertoire before his knock out semi final at the SGC on Sunday 13th April. The Eagles is ideal for this as it gives the competition piper a chance to blood himself in a friendly but informed environment. It’s all about controlling the nerves to prevent the brown trousers being required or indeed the Jannies sawdust. Craig’s dad was there for support. Mind you I wonder if the parents are sometimes more nervous than their offspring? I know Ian Drummond is a wreck when Cameron plays.
Anyway Craig was in sparkling form as he trotted through some pretty heavy stuff on a first class pipe. Included were some 6/8 marches, The Braemar Gathering and the Trees of North Uist followed by two Gordon Duncan compositions, that I would describe as marching hornpipes. I think the first one was The Gladiator? He concluded his set with a cluster of wee strathspeys and reels and is clearly in fine form this early in the season.
Iain Speirs was on next and once he had wished everyone a Happy New Year got the pipe out. It’s been a busy start to 2014 for Iain and this was his first visit, very timely as he was heading to Stornoway for the Donald McLeod memorial at the weekend. He settled the pipe down very quickly with some 3/4s that included the Gavin Stoddard composition, The Road to Passchendaele. (The Battle of Passchendaele was a campaign of the first world fought by the British and their allies against the German Empire The battle took place on the Western Front, between July and November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders.
Iain then stepped through his light music competition tunes on a bagpipe that is fast becoming his signature.
To round off the evening we had Craig Martin on the Piobaireachd who was suitably attired in highland dress and ready for action. Craig started by heading up the stairs to tune for his slot and then came down and headed straight into an MSR. He then gave us a Hornpipe and Jig, The Train Journey North and John Patterson’s Mare. After a few minute he gave us a very nice Wee Spree and all was well until the last few bars when water kicked in. Again a valuable lesson learned at the Eagles about knowing your pipe and playing in different environments. Certainly it did not detract from Craig’s performance on the night but it would have cost him dear in a contest. Craig is going from strength to strength though and I would not be surprised to see him in the prizes this season.
And that was the evenings evening.
See you all in two weeks time, Tuesday 15th and don’t forget the Knock Out at the Scots Guards Club on Sunday 13th 16.00 KO.
Oh and congratulations to Raith Rovers.
Euan Anderson Hon P/M.