Once again the green hills and Champlain valley of Vermont rang with the dulcet calls of our many species of bagpipes at this year’s PIpers Gathering. At the beginning of the weekend we were sorted into our different houses according to Border Pipes, Scottish Smallpipes, Northumbrian Smallpipes, Uilleann Pipes and even Medieval and Renaissance pipes. We gathered to trade piping secrets and perfect our performance strategies to impress the folks upon our return home. I was teaching Border pipes this year and was pleased at how advanced some of the players were in the classes. It was excellent as always to see that do-gooding Nate Banton and his field of lovely border and smallpipes played by Tim Cummings and Ben Miller as well as meet for the first time the amazing player and pipemaker Fin Moore of Moore Bagpipes. I believe there was an offensive mounted on the Uilleann pipe house by houses Border and Smallpipe at 4 am one night and it was impressive to see how chipper they all were the next day having finally convinced the Uilleann pipers to stop making all those staccato popping sounds. You’re next Northumbrians… It was fantastic to see so many of my own customers there and I had a good time replacing reeds and catching up with folks. This was the first year at Champlain College which was a huge improvement over our previous venue. The classrooms were climate controlled and brightly lit and there was an epic view of Lake Champlain from every window it seemed, especially the dining room which had a 12 ft wall of glass looking out on the lake and mountains. The food was very good too. We were in the town of Burlington so there was plenty of cell reception and every amenity you could think of. I think next year we should do a class on busking and take a field trip to the pleasant downtown area and take turns playing for people walking by. The piper from one of my favorite groups was there teaching Renaissance and Medieval pipes, Tom Zajac who plays in the group Piffaro and had some very interesting tunes to show us at at the Sunday concert. If you’re reading this…I’ve survived the summer and threaded the needle of floods in VT and fires in TX with my head down making pipes in lovely Asheville NC. If you love the bagpipes and didn’t make it to the PIpers Gathering this year, please consider making a tax-deductible donation. Hope to see you there next year!