Brian Wins ‘the Wheel’ (updated with sound file)

Fife’s Brian Lamond was the winner of the popular ‘Wheel of Fortune’ piping contest held today in Danderhall Miners Welfare south of Edinburgh, writes Robert WallacBrian (pictured above celebrating at the wheel) was placed first ahead of Alasdair Henderson and Calum Beaumont in the overall contest. The MSR was won by Niall Stewart, Kyle, and the joke telling contest, for the umpteenth time, by the overall winner himself. (Too risqué to repeat here, but it involved an elephant’s trunk and sausage rolls).

There was a very large crowd in the main hall, and as well as the prizewinners, there were outstanding performances from Lee Moore, Angus Nicholson and young Angus J MacColl. Last year’s winner Douglas Murray was suffering from tonsilitis and unable to attend.

Judges were the audience and P/Ms Barry Donaldson, Gordon Campbell and Ian Duncan. This was a highly enjoyable day of quality piping sponsored by the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band.

At the end I was asked to present the prizes and say a few words. I highlighted the importance of the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ contest and that of the John MacLellan Memorial contest given that Edinburgh needed somethiong to replace the Eagle Pipers and Edinburgh Police contests of the 80s. We did not want Glasgow to be too dominant in the piping world did we?

I also made the point that at the ‘Wheel’ we had the opportunity of meeting other pipers and enthusiasts in a convivial atmosphere. I had spent a large part of the afternoon chatting (between performances of course) with P/M Harry McNulty.

Harry told me of his time teaching in California and of his early days on the Edinburgh Police Pipe Band with John Burgess, Donald Shaw Ramsay and Iain MacLeod. He also revelaed that he is one of only three pipe majors who have won major Grade 1 championships with different bands. Can you name the other two? Answers to

As for the playing, I would like to underline the point on quality made earlier. Here’s Angus Nicholson, a piper I had never heard before:

How good was that? And Angus didn’t make the prizelist! Why he doesn’t compete more is a mystery; he would surely take some decent prizes.

The quality of the bagpipes was another significant feature. Niall Stewart struggled a bit with his final selection but in the MSR the instrument was much better. Angus Nicholson’s was locked in from start to finish – as was that of the winner Brian Lamond’s and the runner up’s, Alasdair Henderson. Lee Moore played very well but the pipe was a little strong-sounding. He later confessed to a serious bout of nerves; so just when he needed to be able to relax with his instrument he had to do the opposite.

In case anyone doesn’t know the format  at the ‘Wheel of Fortune’, pipers play three sets, the first of their own choice, the second an own-choice MSR and a third decided by a spin of the golden chanter on the wheel which has different categories of tune: Donald Macleod tune, 4/4 march, Gaelic or Irish slow air, Gordon Duncan tune, GS McLennan tune, hornpipe, 9/8 march, own tune, piobaireachd ground, polka, two Irish reels, two Irish jigs. The pipers must, therefore, arrive at the contest armed with quite a few pieces off pat.

In all, they rose to the challenge giving us an excellent day of pipe music all strung together well by MC Angus Clarke and leading organiser Paul White. I am sure the event would have been a successful financial venture for the City of Edinburgh, now the pre-eminent band in the capital, and deservedly so. More pictures here.