We saw a good turnout at the Eagles after a fresh and sunny autumn day, but missing from the ranks were our P/M, President and Secretary, who were indisposed.
Being the well-disciplined lot that the Eagles are the pipes were quickly out the boxes, warmed up and ready to go without any coercion. But without the foresaid incumbents who would lead? It seems, according to Martin Wilson Jnr., whose expertise on this matter is unquestionable, that if you have a set of ribbons on your drones and an Eagles bag cover then your it for the night. Thus it was for Iain Dewar who took on the task like a duck on an icy pond!
The Band consisting of 9 players and sounding perfectly respectable took off with the Green Hills set of 3/4s. This was followed by two lively 2/4s Corriechoillies Welcome and Terribus, with a quick round of drone tuning provided by Martin.
There was some debate about what 6/8s to play and in what order before settling on Leaving Port Askaig and Farewell to the Creeks. Slow airs followed with My Home and Mist Covered Mountains. The pipes were sounding pretty good by now so we ended on Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban. Not too shabby, but will we ever get round to that Strathspey?
The stand in P/M sorted a batting order from the many volunteers and up first and pre-pie piper was Iain McDonald who warmed up his Glen pipes and started with a slow air, hornpipe and jig – Braes of Lochiel, Liverpool Hornpipe and Snug in the Blanket.
A quick re-tune and then into The Kilworth Hills, a very fine 3/4 from one of the piping world’s most famous composers Pipe Major George S. McLellan. Iain finished his selection with a couple of great 2/4 marches – MacLean of Penny Cross, and Captain Campbell of Drum a Voisk, which took us to the pies.
After a short pie break and glasses suitably refreshed it was the turn of the post pie piper
Andrew Chun-kit Yu who came hopeful to pick up an Eagles tie and book of tunes.
Not too disappointed when the man with the goodies was absent, Andrew warmed up his set of Duncan MacRae’s with a rendition of The Auld Rustic Bridge. Fingers and pipes warming nicely he then played his MSR before finishing with a selection of well-known jigs – Pipe Major Jimmy McGregor, Glasgow City Police Pipers, and Alan MacPherson of Mosspark.
Don’t worry Andrew, you’ll get your tie and book!
Next up was Martin Wilson Jnr with his set of Henderson’s with a vintage WarMac chanter. How we remember those chanters, the first synthetic chanter made of polypenco back in the 70s. It was a shortage of good quality African Blackwood that drove Andrew Warnock to look for alternatives and found it in the material Police Batons were being made of! It was the chanter that changed the pipe band world for ever not least by Pipe Major Tom McAllister who went into partnership with Warnock (War-mac bagpipes) and whose reeds the chanter was optimised for. That combination put Shotts and Dykeshead and WarMac firmly on the map for all time.
So back to Martins pipes! They warmed up well and the chanter was bright, and he was clearly not blowing one of the famous Tom McAllister reeds as his face wasn’t inside out! The old favourite tunes were out again, this time it was – The Meeting of the Waters, and Laird and Lady Morris of Burntisland. Suitably warmed up Martin followed these with a rendition of some of his own 6/8 compositions, and fine tunes they were – Angus Malcolm McKinnon, Sir William Sutherland QPM, and The Peeping Toms. Martin rounded his spot off with a well-executed MSR – Major Manson’s Farewell to Clachantrushal, Caber Feidh, and the Brown Haired Maid.
Our final piper and piobaireachd player of the night was Dr. Jack Taylor, who was taught by Bert Barron and latterly by Robert Brown and Robert Nichol.
Jack won the Gold Medal at Inverness in 1973 and although retired he is currently President of the Piobaireachd Society. Jack warmed up his pipes with more old favourite 4/4s – Within a Mile o’ Edinburgh Toun, and The Hills of Alva.
The pipes settled well and after a little drone tweaking Jack then played the Fair maid of Barra followed by The Curlew, a well-known jig written by Donald MacPherson. Jacks’ Niall chanter delivered a classic and finely balanced sound, just the ticket for Jack’s final tune of the night – the Lament for Mary McLeod (The Sky Poetess), a melodic and beautiful tune.
Mary McLeod was a Gaelic poetess who was banished to the Island of Mull for some bardic offence committed in the stately Halls of Dunvegan. She made a death-entreaty that she should be buried face downwards in token of the ignominy which would for ever consume her conscience, although she slept in Rodel of her ancestors, the idyll of her heart. (Fionn’s Notes).
That was it for the night, old favourites all round!
Next meeting will be 3rd October where we will be entertained by Steven Leask on what promises to be a great evening.
See you there and all the best.