You don’t have to drink to enjoy yourself. No- but it helps. A nice glass of wine with food for example and what use is a pie without a pint? With the new drink drive law in force, quite rightly, no one is taking a chance. Soft drinks and indeed coffee are the new order of the day but as yet, thankfully, people are still coming out to ‘play’. (apart from Iain Speirs who is still on breakfast duties-shame…..)
Once the P/M had broken the ice, trying out a new reed and wooden Sinclair chanter combination, he handed over to Ian Dewar who is fast becoming a stalwart of the Society. Ian has a lovely set of Gillanders and McLeod that he sets up extremely well. The drone sound is very harmonious and well balanced against the chanter. Included in his set were some old favourites including the 6/8s Leaving Port Askaig and Donald MacLellan of Rothesay.
Ian passed the baton to Holly Fredlander who was part of the Heriots group four weeks ago. It was great to see Holly along ready to have a tune. Holly is involved in the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band who are
provisionally booked to come along and play as a mini band on Tuesday 28th April. Holly was quickly into her stride with a slow air followed by the jigs Alan McPherson of Mosspark and Donella Beaton. This was followed by an MSR John MacDonald’s Welcome to South Uist/The Pipers Bonnet/Alick C MacGregor. Holly finished her spot off with a couple of reels that included the Niall Kenny (Edinburgh) composition, Trip to Pakistan. Excellent stuff Holly.
The pre pie piper was the Hon. Pres. himself. Fresh from his sojourn to the Winter Storm competition/workshop in Kansas, Colin had the pipe in shape and was ready for a tune. As usual he stepped through a variety of small music before moving onto his MSR. Colin started with the great Hugh MacKay tune, The 71st Highlanders before moving onto The Pipers Bonnet and Neil Angus MacDonald.
What’s in a tune-When war erupted with the American Colonies, Britain’s recruiting efforts became crucial to her ability to wage the war and many Scottish people flocked to the cause. In 1778, some 15,000 men were enlisted into the British Army. Two-thirds of them were from Scotland. The 71st Regiment of Foot (1775–1783) was created from among these recruits.
Upon the realization that war with the American Colonies was imminent, the British Army was expanded from its 70 numbered Regiments of Foot. The first new regiment was raised by Colonel Simon Fraser and designated the 71st Regiment of Foot. King George III bestowed the honour of being the first new regiment to Fraser because of the outstanding service of another regiment of Fraser’s Highlanders, the 78th Regiment (1753–1763), in the Seven Years (or French and Indian) War. In point of fact, however, the Regiment was never officially called the Fraser’s Highlanders; instead it was always the 71st Regiment of Foot.
Colonel Simon Fraser was the chieftain of the Frasers of Lovat. He raised the 78th Regiment of Foot for the French and Indian Wars. He regained the lands forfeit in 1746, but did not accompany his Regiment to America. He died a Lieutenant General in 1782.
The Regiment was officially raised at Stirling Castle and in April 1776 moved to Glasgow. Several clan chiefs supported Fraser in building the regiment. Six of these served as officers. In short order, the 71st exceeded their recruiting needs and the unit embarked for America over strength, including a large number of combat-proven officers from the old 78th Fraser’s Highlanders.
Hugh MacKay (1801-1864) was born in the Reay country. He was a piper in the 71st Highlanders in 1830, and was Pipe Major from 1836-1851. After that, he went to the Stirlingshire Militia, from 1852 to 1864. He was a great march player who, with Angus MacKay, made the competition march what it is today. He composed many marches, including, The 71st Quickstep, The Stirlingshire Militia, The Craigs of Stirling, Angus Campbell’s Farewell to Stirling, Charles Edward Hope de Vere and Donald Cameron.
Colin then concluded his spot with the lovely Donald McLeod composition, Lament for Islay Flora MacLeod. A lovely wee tune and Colin informed us that the tune was written in memory of Bill MacLeod’s wife, who lived in Pine Falls, Manitoba. “Bill himself told me often that Donald wrote the tune, in particular the first variation, as an imitation of her golf swing. They often enjoyed golf on the weekend during the summer school at Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan.”
We had a visitor watching over the pies. None other than the ‘wee spoon’ herself, Katherine Belcher from Melbourne. Kat is with us for a year or so and is flat out learning solo tunes and the Inveraray repertoire. We hope to hear her at the Eagles soon.
The post pie piper saw a welcome return to Donald McLeod. Donald was quickly into his stride on a first class pipe. After a couple of warm up tunes he knocked off two classics,
Colin Thompson and the 74th Farewell to Edinburgh. He paused for breath before playing a very entertaining set of small Strathspeys and Reels. Lovely. He continued with the hornpipe and jig, Raigmore and John Paterson’s Mare and concluded with the ground of The Lament for the Children. First class. Donald is finalising arrangement for the Duncan Johnstone competition on the 14th March and entries are just about closed.
The next piper was Gordon Hislop, who was on piobaireachd duties. Gordon is a pupil of Tom Speirs and a regular attender at the Eagles. After playing a few warm up tunes Gordon tackled Clan Campbell’s Gathering and what a lovely job he made of it. Well-done Gordon.
The final player of the night was Lachie Dick, also a member of the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band, who are celebrating another successful Wheel of Fortune competition. Lachie quickly settled his pipe and was into the big stuff early on. He then played, for me the highlight of his spot, three Duncan Johnstone jigs, Finlay Murchies Birthday, James MacLellan’s Favourite and Ray Anderson. He finished off his spot with the ground of The King’s Taxes.
And that was that. A great night indeed.
Colin and Jenny are off to Canada to celebrate Jenny’s big birthday so safe travels (pack the snow shovels) and we have a round of the Scots Guards KO competition this Sunday 22nd where Grieg Wilson will be taking on Scott Barrie.
The piob. slot is up for grabs in 2 weeks time for those who may want a run out pre DJ competition?
See you in two weeks.