Warlocks and witches in a dance,
No cotillion, brand new from France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
Put life and mettle in their heels,
In a window alcove in the east,
There sat Old Nick, in shape of beast,
A shaggy dog, black, grim, and large,
To give them music was his charge,
He screwed the pipes and made them squeal,
Till roof and rafters all did ring,
Coffins stood round, like open presses,
That showed the dead in their last dresses,
From Tam o’ Shanter
On the eve of the Bard’s birthday we took to the floor to give more than a passing nod to the great man but also to reflect on the passing of two pipers.
One you will have heard of, Lt. Col David Murray, who was a respected amateur piper in his young days. He served with the Royal Scots and The Black Watch, and was commissioned into the Cameron Highlanders in 1941. He was also a past Piping Convener of the Northern Meeting and past President of the Piobaireachd Society as well as a respected Senior Adjudicator.
The other bad news is Elaine Potts (Marnoch) who was perhaps not so well known, as she was latterly not very active in the piping scene, has also passed. However back in the day Elaine was a fine player and a contemporary of fellow Aberdonian Patricia Henderson.
Lance Bombardier Megan Beveridge of the 19th Regiment Royal Artillery, recently became the first female to pass the Pipe Majors course at the Army School of Bagpiping and Highland Drumming. Megan became the first serving female soldier to be lone piper at the Edinburgh Tattoo, however, back in 1977, Officer Cadet Elaine Marnoch, was the first ever-female lone piper. She was there to wish Megan luck. Two famous lady pipers.
Elaine sadly lost a long battle against cancer but I will always remember her belting out the classic Willie Lawrie march, The Pap of Glencoe.
Another well attended evening saw 12 pipers take to the floor. While old stalwarts were absent the new brigade were out in force including the infamous John Murphy who is clearly enjoying retirement from the licensed trade. The band stepped its way through a few sets before breaking for pies.
During the break young Amara Taylor played Morning has Broken on the chanter. The pie munching audience gave vocal support with background harmony.
The post pie piper was Michael Upton who will see 2017 as a watershed year. He is due to join Police Scotland and tie the knot later this year. On an old set of Robertson drones, once the property of Andrew ‘Lefty’ Craig, Michael played a
couple of 3/4 marches on an instrument that was steady as a rock.
Next for shaving was Robbie Ross. Once Robbie had settled the pipe he played a big MSR and closed his slot with the lovely jig Dr. Flora MacAuley of Carradale, composed by Allan MacDonald.
Up next was Alan McGhie who trotted out some lovely wee 2/4 marches that included The Dornoch Links and Greenwoodside. Great to see Alan becoming more of a regular at the Eagles.
Fergus Perks was next in line and he was quickly into his stride with The Balmoral Highlanders followed by a strathspey and reel. Fergus closed with a couple of jigs.
The final player of the night was John Fraser who gave us a blast of Burns finishing off with a few bars of Auld Lang Syne. Great stuff John.
And that was that. A fine night indeed and a fitting nod to the Bard.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday 7th February. There will still be some group playing at the start of the night but then Douglas Gardiner will host a Ceol Mor session, so dust off the piob. books. See you then.