Match Report Tuesday 4th April 2017

FullSizeRenderRevered as the greatest ever pipe major in the history of Edinburgh City Police / Lothian and Borders Police Pipe Band this evening we remembered Pipe Major Iain McLeod.

The Society historically and in modern times has had links, not only to George Heriot’s School, where Iain and his sons were pupils, but also with the police service in Edinburgh where Iain led the police band to five World Pipe Championships wins.

eagles 12

Iain MacLeod

Within the Society there are those that played with Iain and those that followed in his footsteps as pipe major of the Lothian and Borders band – namely Colin MacLellan and Kenny McBride.

For some – myself included – the only contact we ever had with Iain was a visit to the shop in Whitehouse Loan, Edinburgh, where as a schoolboy I pawed over things and spent my pocket money on hemp and beeswax or the occasional practice chanter reed. I avoided the very itchy


Iain in the shop

looking handmade hose however.

The band became iconic for its style of play and immaculate turn out on parade, winning countless dress and deportment prizes at various competitions. When the end of the legendary dynasty was in sight Iain was quite outspoken about its demise.

‘I have been greatly saddened in recent years to witness the decline of the Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band, formerly the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band. It seems incredible that this once proud, respected, highly successful and renowned band, having survived throughout years of the austerity of two

band 1

John Fraser leads the final parade

world wars, has now been allowed to decline to the point of extinction. I would hope that Edinburgh City Council and the Scottish Police Service now take steps to ensure that the pipe band’s achievements and its role in promoting both the city and its police service over 131 years; are now formally

band 2

Euan Anderson, Alison Gardiner, Dougie McBride, Donald MacFadyen, Brian Lothian

recognised by way of a permanent record in the history and archives of the city.’

To start the evening the P/M consulted with Martin Wilson Snr – who was a member of the band during Iain’s time at the helm – for something fitting to play. The decision was Rab’s Wedding and Auld Adam, two of the bands 6/8 marches that were in their repertoire for many years, (both coincidentally appear in the new Society’s tune book).IMG_4962

John Kerr wrote Rab’s Wedding for a band member Robert Gibson who was quite the character. Few of Iain’s peers are still with us but Harry McNulty, George Lumsden and Chris Anderson spring to mind. Andrew Berthoff, editor of Pipes/Drums, has a couple of excellent interviews relating to the band in his archives that are well worth a read.


Martin Wilson Jnr on his dads pipe. Better late than never.

With 15 sets of pipes on the floor we had a pretty good go at it and after a couple of run throughs I’m sure Iain would have been close to giving us a ‘Well done’.

Due to time constraints – Brodie Watson-Massey – took to the floor as the ‘Pie Piper’ as opposed to the post or pre variety and in keeping with the theme for the evening started us off with an MSR comprising of The Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band, John Roy Stewart and Loch Carron.IMG_4981

Brodie went on to play Lucy Cassidy and Donald MacLennan’s Tuning Phrase and was just getting into the swing of things when his dad arrived. Thankfully, however, we were blessed with another fine set before his departure that included Fraser Allison’s Jig, The Famous Baravan, Duncan MacKillop and The Henderson March that he played as a jig.

It’s at this point I feel that it is incumbent upon me to say a few words to all those parents out there who regularly fetch, carry and travel to far flung destinations to enable their children to entertain and compete. We at the Eagles do appreciate it, and would like to thank the Happs, Watson-Massey and Taylor families who do just that.

IMG_2408The P/M went on to tell us a little about the ‘Piping Societies in the Modern Era’ lecture that took place on the eve of The Piobaireachd Society Conference. We were not only represented by the P/M delivering part of the lecture but Jenny Hazzard and Iain Speirs played some great music to compliment the presentation

On that note Gordon Hislop also gave a good account of himself on the Saturday when the topic of discussion was the amateur clasp competitions.

The P/M went on to give us a few tunes – such has been the demand to play this has actually been his first chance to get a tune in. He played a few 6/8 marches that included tunes from the book and as part of a demonstration played Michael Grey composition Blustering Home, as the musical rhythm can be unusual to the ear if not familiar with the tune. Follow the link to see Euan in action


Bring it on

There is a bet on in the Society between the P/M and Martin Wilson Jnr as to whether we will ever manage to play this tune as a band. Watch this space!

A more fitting way to end the evening couldn’t have been found and Kenny McBride (former L&B Pipe Major) illustrated why the demise of the Lothians band was such a shame. On a pitch perfect pipe with rock steady drones and precision fingering it was a delight to hear Kenny play the 3 / 4 ’s Dunaskin Glen and the Highland Brigade at Magersfontein.

IMG_2414He rounded off the evening with an MSR, comprising of Tom Wilson, Susan MacLeod and Thomson’s Dirk.

It was then time to reminisce but not before being told that Auld Adam and Rab’s Wedding will be first up next week.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday 18th April where Jenny will don her Bamber Gascoigne hat and run a ‘Piping Geographical Quiz’.

Until then folks have a good one and keep up the practice.

Note: Iain’s funeral will be a private ceremony on Tuesday 11th April for family and close friends.


Craig Robertson
Membership Secretary



Filed under Uncategorized

Match Report Tuesday 22nd March 2017

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 00.34.19On a dreich Edinburgh night 10 pipers took to the floor and tackled a few tunes from the new book. With a bit of work on the drones an acceptable sound was found and it looks like everyone is enjoying the new format.

During the pie break young Amara Taylor played us her second tune, Tha mi Sgith, (I Am Weary) on the chanter and was thrilled when Jenny was able to tell her all about the tune and how it could be played in different styles. The tune is also known as The Weary Maid or Brain a Rainich -cutting bracken (ferns)IMG_4894

The post pie piper was John Fraser who took to the floor with little persuasion and trotted out half a dozen Scots Guards Company marches that started off with Greenwoodside. And with that he was done.

IMG_4896Alan Harper was up next and settled the pipe with a couple of 3/4s before giving us a bit of Too Long in this Condition. Alan has been working hard on his instrument and the drone quality was very nice.IMG_4899

The final player of the evening was Iain Speirs, who does not manage along as often as he would like, but it is always well worth the wait. As you would expect from one of Scotlands top players his pipe was immaculate as was his playing.

IMG_4902How nice is it to have a home for piping where you can have an 8 year old play her second tune on the chanter and end the night with a top flight artist. With the two young Heriots lads playing at the last meeting and an enthusiasm for the band format perhaps piping societies are still current and viable to run?

On that topic The Eagle Pipers have been invited to present at the annual College of Piping lecture this Friday, 24th March at the Birnam Hotel, the subject matter being, ‘Piping Societies in the Modern Era’. They will be joined by The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society. It won’t be all chat as music will be provided by Jenny Hazzard, Iain Speirs and Roddy McLeod. This event traditionally kicks off the Piobaireachd Society conference that is held over the weekend.

Tunes to work on for the next meeting, The Gardens of Skye, Flett from Flotta and Old Adam and Farewell to the Creeks. Bag covers will also be available. Great value at £30.P1010499

Hope to see you in a couple of weeks Tuesday 4th April.

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Match Report 7th March 2017


The Society Tunes

Apologies for late reporting of events on the 7th, generally I am not one for excuses however, 21 -61? It was a real shock to my system. That being said, I expect the boys to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and put on a good show against Italy this weekend coming.


Speaking of good shows Tuesday 7th was an absolute treat – I will come to all that in a minute.

We had another good turnout with 14 pipers and half a dozen spectators. The evening began with the handing out of the ‘Eagle Piper’s Society Tunes’.

Since the AGM, the book has been put together by the P/M and it is hoped that it will encourage those who attend the meetings to bring their pipes along and join in for a wee band session prior to those – who are of a mind – playing a solo spot.

It is really about playing the pipes more than the tunes, and, it is hoped that it will inspire those who would normally sit back and listen (myself included) to get up play a wee solo piece.

In the absence of the P/M, John Fraser put us through our paces with the 2/4, 3/4 and 6/8 sets and paid his subs. Cheers John!


John having a tune

Just a quick note here – we are working through the membership list and those of you with up to date memberships will be receiving your copy in the post. There are some records needing confirmed (addresses etc.) so will be in touch via email to get those details.

The night thereafter progressed and we were blessed to have some fantastic talent in our midst in the form of two young Heriot’s lads (and Eagle members) namely Brodie Watson-Massey and Chris Happs from Heriots.Heriots logo

Brodie started off the evening with the 2/4’s Arthur Bignold of Lochrosque and The Argyllshire Gathering. A wee adjustment of the drones and he was back on it with the Strathspey ( Catlodge) and Reel (John McKechnie).



It was at this point the real fun began and if you follow the link you’ll see what I mean :

The post pipe piper was Chris Happs who got things started with Hugh Kennedy and P/M Sandy Spence. Chris was effortlessly into his stride and the Hornpipe and Jig set comprising of No Regrets, Pitlochry High School, Bronnis Blue Brozzi and the Banjo Breakdown (with a twist) was out of this world. His final set can be found here: .

Both these guys were extremely modest as well as talented and are a credit to themselves,

Untitled 1


their parents and their school. Well done lads and thank you.

Gordon Hislop thereafter took to the floor for the piobaireachd, MacLeod of Raasay’s Salute (composed by Angus MacKay of Gairloch in 1761). Gordon explained that there is still a dichotomy regarding how this tune should be played. Is it a salute commemorating the birth of a son or a lament mourning the death of a father? Gordon chose to play it as the former and this was an inspired choice. A wonderful warm tone emanated from the drones, a beautifully balanced chanter, great expression and a truly sublime crunluath a mach. A great recital indeed which many commented on.Untitled2

And after all that it was time for the night to end – ‘closing time already?’ was the cry from the stalls, but not quite – John Fraser played us out with The Black Watch and Scots Guards Polka.

See you On Tuesday 21st and bring the pipe.

Craig Robertson


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Match Report Tuesday 21st February 2017

img_4875Daffodils on the table? Ah yes a wee welcome to our Welsh friends due to play at the National Stadium on Saturday. Little did we know then that the dragon was to be slain (in grand fashion) and they were to be sent home to think again.

Some 14 pipers took to the floor for the band session. Not the grand affair that was awaiting Jenny in Belfast, the back in Ireland concert celebrating the great music produced back in 1987 in Ballymena by the 78th Frasers, but an enthusiastic group none the less.img_4613

Joining the company for the first time were Martin Wilson Senior and Junior and it didn’t take Martin Snr long before he was into the swing of things and on the pies. To Martin Jnr, pipe out and on parade next time please.


The Wilsons

The post pie piper was Iain Dewar who played Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban (the first tune in the new Eagles book that was being handed round the company- although still in draft form) followed by Pipe Major Jimmy Christie of Wick. This is originally a fiddle tune composed by Addie Harper of Wick. The title honours Jim Christie founder and Pipe Major of the Wick Girls’ Pipe Band who toured in Scotland and abroad. Iain concluded his slot with the ground of The Lament for the Old Sword.


Jim Christie far right with the Wick girls pipe band circa 1960

Next for shaving was Alan Harper who was in fine form and in practice mode for the Archie Kenneth Quaich that is due to be competed for on Saturday 4th March in the Royal Scottish Pipers’ rooms. Alan gave us the ground and a couple of variations of The Lament for Captain MacDougal.


Alan Harper

The final player of the evening was Douglas Gardiner, who settled the pipe with a few tunes and an MSR before giving us an immaculate King’s Taxes, a tune attributed to Ranald Ban MacDougall, circa the early 1700s. Of note this was the first tune to win one of the new Piobaireachd Society competitions at Oban in 1904, gaining for the winner, John MacDonald of Inverness, the princely of sum of £20.00– at a time when the Gold Medals at Oban and Inverness brought their winners a mere £8.00.img_4869

Douglas, on an immaculate pipe, did this great tune justice and was rewarded with an extra pie for his efforts.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday 7th March where the band will focus on the tunes Those Endearing Young Charms/The Highland Cradle Song and the Scotland the Brave set. The book is now at the printers and may be ready for the next meeting? See you there.

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Visit of The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society – 2nd May 2017

We are very pleased to announce that our friends from The Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society will be visiting us on Tuesday 2nd May 2017.

This is always a hugely entertaining evening so plan your Bank Holiday wisely.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Match Report Tuesday 7th February 2017

img_4459Tonight was the first of the years ‘special’ evenings that saw Douglas Gardiner take the reigns to run a Ceol Mor based night. To get things underway the band took to the floor and some 13 pipers blasted out a few sets before we got to the serious business.img_4440

First up was Kenny McBride and with little fuss he was straight into one of the great tunes, Lord Lovat’s Lament. It must have been quite a few years since Kenny has played a piobaireachd in public but what a


Kenny McBride

start to the night. A strong tune with excellent technique saw the night get off to a first class start.  George Campbell took us to the pie break with a very nice ground of Corrienessians Salute and the ambience of the night was set.

The pie break had a bit of a twist to it as Douglas ran a small piobaireachd quiz.


George Campbell

Several teams were formed and monitors were put in place to ensure Mr Google did not get involved. Half an hour later saw a tie between team MacLellan/Hazzard and McCalister and team Peterkin and Anderson, both on 12 points. A tie break question secured a win for the P and A who


The pensioners

were awarded a bag of fruit gums and Wether’s Originals for their efforts. No expense spared on the prizes !

The post pie/quiz piper was Iain Dewar who gave us the ground of Flame of Wrath for Squinting Patrick. Jenny Hazzard was next with the ground of The Edinburgh


Iain Dewar

Piobaireachd and this was followed by Peter McCalister, who played one of this years silver medal set tunes, Peter James MacInnes Lullaby, also known as Cronan Phadruig Seamus, composed by Donald MacLeod circa 1960.

An interesting tune worthy of serious consideration for the list, but you need to have a good piob. high G to do it justice. Fortunately Peter’s was spot on and we were treated to a lovely rendition of this little heard modern tune. Peter claimed the prize ( a bag of wine gums) for the

img_4454most modern Piobaireachd of the evening only to be reminded, by a very modest Jenny Hazzard, that The Edinburgh Piobaireachd was composed in the 1980s. The good Doctor made rather feeble attempt to pass over the wine gums but Jenny politely declined. Had it been a pint of Best the outcome may have been different?

The last nugget of the night came from Tom Peterkin who gave us img_4452the ground of Tulloch Ard. Despite expecting his second child Tom is still aiming to give the Archie Kenneth Quaich a tilt later this year.

And with that we were done. Great music, minimal tuning and good craic.



Tam ready for action

Back to normal on Tuesday 21st so please come along and have a tune with the band.

See you then

Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Match report Tuesday 24th January 2017

img_4435Warlocks 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,


The Hon P/M at the 1st Burns supper of the year Edinburgh Castle


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

Robert Burns

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.

unknownOne 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.


Megan and Elaine

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.

img_4417Another 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.


Amara Taylor

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


Mikey Upton

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.


Robbie Ross

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.


Alan McGhie

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.


Fergus Perks

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.


John Fraser

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.


Euan Anderson

Hon P/M

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized