So where exactly is Dollar asked one of our visiting American guests. After a quick chat about Andy Murray, Stirling Castle, Bruce and Wallace etc. etc. they got the picture. Perhaps a small town but firmly on the map of Scottish history,culture and excellence.
Dollar Academy were the latest school to come along to the Eagles and we were in for a real treat. The school website states:
‘Our aim is to prepare our pipers to compete at all levels, including participation in the national competitions. The Dollar Academy pipe band has won the Scottish CCF Championship for thirteen consecutive years and competes in the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association at juvenile and novice grade and in 2014 were crowned World Champions. For many of us the sight and sound of the pipeband is synonymous with Dollar Academy.’
On the piping front Matt Wilson has been at the helm for a while and he has recently been joined by none other than Callum Beaumont. Lee Innes has been involved with the drumming for some 19 years and Steven McWhirter is part of the instructors team, thus it’s clear the school has nailed its colours to the mast regards instruction and development.
Tonights players were Sandy Cameron, Lucy Ferguson, Gregor Stewart and Cameron Bennett. Matt Wilson led the group opening with some 6/8s.
The first impression was ‘WOW’ what volume. My heart went out to the troops as I assumed they were blowing monster reeds but all were later to assure me that this was not the case. The band are on new Hardie chanters and sheepskin bags. They intend playing 14 pipers and 6/7 snares at the British this weekend and for a school band surely a sound hard to beat?
Next up was their competition MSR John McDonald of Glencoe/ Susan MacLeod/Fiona Macleod. A lovely swing in the 2/4. Have a listen at our YouTube site.
A quick tune of the drones while playing a couple of 3/4s and the band were ready to play their medley. They kicked off with Castle Dangerous and then stepped their way through recognisable bits and bobs that ultimately formed a very well structured and musical medley. Great stuff and that brought the first half to a very satisfying close.
The post pie piper was Callum himself. On an immaculate pipe that required minimal, tuning he went straight into Mrs. John McColl and P/M J McWilliams. A hornpipe and jig followed and then we were treated to the ground and first couple of variations of The Lament for the Children. Lovely stuff and surprisingly the first time we have heard Callum at the Eagles. Haste ye back.
Another surprise was in store as Cameron Bennett returned with the accordion, supported by Sandy Cameron on the smallpipe. They rattled their way through some great tunes including the unusual jig, The Grouses Revenge.
We then had a couple of solo spots from Lucy Ferguson and Sandy Cameron on the Highland pipe. Both played an MSR and what was common to both was the lovely strathspey playing. The strathspeys in the band medley were the same. Held back a little allowing the dancing lilt to come through. Really good stuff.
And that brought the evening to an end. What a fantastic night. Hats off to Sandy, Cameron, Gregor and Lucy for turning out in their own time in the middle of such a hectic schedule. (not least the school exams.) To Matt and Callum, thank you and congratulations. It must be very rewarding to see the fruits of your labour perform to such a high standard.
One final note. Not only are Sandy, Cameron, Gregor and Lucy outstanding musicians, they are also very polite and personable young people who are a delight to chat to. I enjoyed their playing and company immensely.
Best of luck on Saturday.
Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 9th June when we will be hosting The Royal Scottish Pipers Society. Please come along with your pipe for tune.