Do you just not love piping? Not just the music but all the mishmash that goes with it. The global social bond and banter and the general es·prit de corps that seems stronger than ever. Thus it was very pleasing to welcome Michael Grey and Malky Bow (of the Consternation) from Canada who brought along the third musketeer John Slavin of Piping Today fame.
Michael usually pops over for a bit of Celtic Connections therapy but this year he threw in a couple of band practices with the Greater Glasgow Police Scotland Pipe band. The last time we saw Michael at the Eagles was for the launch of his book Damed Suites and Other Music.
Now coincidence is a funny old thing. Earlier in the week the Hon P/M had been sifting through some old sheet music when he came across a copy of a 6/8 March, titled the RCR March. No composer or background clues. He duly brushed it up and played it during his opening set. There were a few enquiries regarding the tune and Michael stated that it was the Royal Canadian Regimental March. The P/M of course stated that he knew that and that he was playing it in honour of the guests. ‘Aye Right’ came back the reply.
Have a listen to this YouTube clip
and you’ll get the idea.
The P/M picked up his copy back in his Drambuie Kirkliston days. P/M Martin Wilson had apparently been over at the Halifax Tattoo with the Edinburgh Police Band and had seized a copy of the tune then and brought it into the DK repertoire.
The pipes and drums of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment march onto the parade square at Queen’s Park in Toronto on April 27, 2013.
Here’s a bit about the RCR……………..
The Royal Canadian Regiment is an infantry regiment of the Canadian Army.
The regiment consists of four battalions, three in the Regular Force and one in the Primary Reserve (militia). The RCR is the senior infantry regiment in the Regular Force, but its 4th Battalion (formerly the London and Oxford Fusiliers) is ranked 11th in the order of precedence among infantry regiments in the Primary Reserve.
The RCR was originally authorised as the Infantry School Corps on 21 December 1883, and established its first three company stations at Fredericton, New Brunswick; St Jean, Quebec; and Toronto, Ontario. In 1887 a fourth Company was authorized and the next year was established at London, Ontario. Now consisting of three Regular Force battalions and one Reserve Force battalion, the regiment’s four battalions are now stationed in Ontario and New Brunswick.
With many of its soldiers drawn from Ontario and the Atlantic Provinces in recent decades, the regiment maintains a general connection as the “local” infantry regiment for eastern Canada.
The RCR maintains a Regimental Headquarters (RHQ) in Petawawa, Ontario, which has no operational command role but handles regimental affairs outside the responsibility of the individual Battalions.
Bugles and Drums
The first band of The RCR was formed under “A” Company of the Infantry School Corps in 1894, when Sergeant Charles Hayes.
The regiment reported having an active band throughout much of the First World War, once their instruments were smuggled forward for them to use. With few lapses, the regiment maintained a Drum and Bugle band at least until the 1990s, when the 1st Battalion had a Drum and Bugle Corps within the ranks of C Company.
Pipes and Drums
In 1970, following a review of the regular army, a number of infantry battalions were disbanded. The Canadian Guards and the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada lost both of their regular battalions, with personnel being distributed to The Royal Canadian Regiment.
The 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment adopted the Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch, becoming the Pipes and Drums of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment.
The 3rd Battalion of The RCR, similarly, adopted the Pipes and Drums of the 2nd Battalion, The Canadian Guards, when they were disbanded. In 1977 the 3rd Battalion Pipes and Drums were redesignated the Special Service Force Pipes and Drums.
The 2nd Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment currently maintains the only Pipes and Drums in the Canadian regular army.
“The Regimental March of the Royal Canadian Regiment” by Lieut. Langford and G. Offen was published by Capt. F.A. Lister, R.C.R., 1910. First line: “Oh! we’re crushing the gravel again today”
The tune also comes under the name St Catharines. Who arranged the pipe music remains a mystery but perhaps some of our Canadian chums can shed some light?
Next up was the man himself Michael Grey. We don’t get enough opportunity to hear Michael play and when we do it’s a real treat. Not just because you know you are going to listen to some first class piping but the content is always of interest. Michael mixes and matches traditional tunes with some of his own compositions and other little heard tunes and they always prick the interest.
Michael started off with some 6/8 marches Ian Symington and Fonzie McDonald’s Welcome to the Real World (great name not sure about the spelling?) He then slowed the tempo down with The Old Days before playing 2 x 2/4 marches Breadalbane Street and Verna Leith’s Wedding March composed by Archie MacNeill, Glasgow that can be found in the late great Scott MacAulay’s collection of music.
As the pies were being delivered Michael rounded off a beautiful wee spot with a couple of his own hornpipes Low Midge Tally and Bob Worrall at St Anns.
A well earned pie, a few beers and plenty of chat followed.
The last player of the night was Lachie Dick, who currently plays for the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band, host/organisers of the Wheel of Fortune and Lachie had plenty of raffle tickets to sell. He started off with a tune from the band repertoire, a musical 3/4, 13 Frederick Street, before going into a slow air and ending with a jig, Hag at the Churn.
On a very soft and settled pipe he played a very nice Dr. Angus MacDonald/Susan McLeod/The Grey Bob. Excellent stuff and this is a man that could do some damage at the Duncan Johnston that is coming up on March 14th.
And with a couple of hornpipes, including George S Allan, Lachie brought the evening to an end. Michael, Malky and John headed to Haymarket for the last train but the Canadian contingent will soon be together again as there is a big bash over there in a couple of weeks for Jenny’s big birthday. The one after 39………..
A great night and thanks to Michael G for taking the time to pop through and play a few tunes for us.
PS Congratulations to Brian Lamond who picked up the overall at the Wheel of Fortune.