2014 was an incredible year. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the job of a bagpiper, and I finally came to this conclusion: My role is to soak up tunes, play with passion, create new music, and share what I’ve learned with others. It is a role of mentorship and learning, a role of teaching about music, culture, and tradition. It is a role where I have the privilege of bringing music to the real lives of people – in their living rooms and their yards, in churches as they grieve for lost ones, in weddings as they celebrate a new chapter, at festivals as little ones hear the bagpipes for the first time – as well as to play for old friends and new across the country and abroad.
This year I traveled from coast to coast and abroad, absorbing music of many styles. I was able to share some of my knowledge and perspective with a young man from Brittany who traveled to do an internship with me in Asheville, arriving on the first night of Grandfather Mountain. We embarked on a month-long internship of instrment making, playing tunes, and learning about the music business. I also had the opportunity to mentor a local high school senior who was interested in the bagpipe. Together we made a practice chanter that will accompany him to his next role in the US Air Force and hopefully to a habit of taking in and passing on mentorship throughout his life.
I became the Entertainment Director for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. For the first time ever, bands were paid to perform. We sent a message to the great Celtic players and the music loving audience that there is a festival that values them. I look forward to continuing that role in 2015.
I played great festivals and concerts including the Texas Scottish Festival, the Maryland Renaissance Festival, the Upper Potomac Pipers’ Weekend, the MacCrimmon Trophy at the Lorient InterCeltic Festival, the Pipers’ Gathering in New England, and St. Andrews Day in Big Spring, TX.
I hosted many friends at my home and workshop in Asheville, NC. My workshop had taken on a new appearance and meaning as I started working with tools from John Kidd’s workshop, allowing me to release some great new instruments to help other pipers deliver great sound.
As we begin 2015, I am excited to announce that the Piper Jones Band will be recording and releasing a new album! I am busy writing new tunes and recording with the amazing bouzouki player Frances Cunningham. The album will be engineered by Grammy Award winner Randy Miller, who also engineered The Willow and multiple Clandestine albums. We are hoping to release it in March as one of the headliner bands of the North Texas Irish Festival.
Funding an album is always a challenge. So many of you have asked if there is a way to help, and the answer is YES! I am taking preorders of the CD which will also help defray the cost of making the album. The link is below. I want to say a huge thanks in advance to all of you who have supported me, as well as Celtic music, over the years. Your help guarantees that this art form will continue to be shared with others and will inspire young people to continue the tradition.
I look forward to seeing you on the road!