It was an epic weekend at the 12th Pipers’ Gathering. To be able to finally meet and play tunes with Dan Houghton was like finding a long lost brother, a slightly older, smarter one you know, who’s better looking and can pull off feats of piping skill like an effortless “E” hornpipe shake. Dan and I played together with flute titan John Skelton on Saturday, getting some of the audience up to dance the An Dro with the pipes, bombard and guitar and we were rapt by John’s set of flute, bombard, and Galician pipes at the Sunday concert. I spent a lot of the weekend hanging out with my arch-nemesis Nate Banton, the smallpipe/border pipe maker who had some beautiful instruments on display and on stage. It was very distracting in a nice way to have one of his instruments pulling my attention towards the player at some of the group lessons. I’ll get you next time, Banton! There were many tables laid out with an abundance of bagpipe making artistry this weekend and another of the instructors, Jon Swayne, knocked me out with his playing at the Saturday evening concert and by the elegance of the pipes and flutes he makes. Across the path were the gorgeous multi-denominational bagpipes and leather work of Michael MacHarg. I think every Irish pipe and most of the smallpipes were outfitted with his expertly made pipe bags and I wish I had had an hour or two to take a good look at his wood-turnings for inspiration. There just wasn’t enough time to take in all the interesting, amazing playing, pipe-making, and education to be had there. I got the new Tim Cummings tune book and was blown away by some of the tunes on the accompanying CD. He led us in song at the Sunday concert with his smallpipes. One of the modern piping gods, Jim McGillivray was there teaching smallpipes and I wish I had been able to see one of his classes as well as the afternoon workshop of the smallpipe player/ singer Laura MacKenzie. It was such a treat to have so many of my customers there with their pipes. I did a lot of little tuneups and some reed tweaking on those instruments and got to re-connect with customers I hadn’t seen in a while. The weekend really could not have gone better and I am driving home today reeling in gratitude for the friendships that were struck and deepened over this weekend. I’m only mentioning a really tiny fraction of the magic that happens for pipers at this event. A cross-pollinating, enriching, challenging, and inspiring time, that Pipers Gathering.
They’re a 501c3 nonprofit by the way, so if you’re looking for a bagpipe-supporting tax write off they would do great work by your contribution!
Here’s the notation of the first tune I played in my set Saturday night: big-spring-awakening-hp