PP Editor’s Blog: National Juvenile Pipe Band Fund/ Archive Recordings/ Archie Kenneth/ SPA KO etc

A meeting will be held this weekend to decide on the disbursement of the first grants from the RSPBA’s National Juvenile Pipe Band Fund. The fund was launched last World’s Week. It’s aim is to help young bands who are struggling to find the cash for competition buses, instruments and  tuition. Most of these bands receive  nothing from the public purse at all and it was to try to redress this very unsatisfactory state of affairs that the fund was set up in the first place. Successful bands will be notified in due course. Information about the fund can be found here.

The favourable reaction to yesterday’s story on the John MacDonald archive recordings was to be expected I suppose. That they were made by world-renowned folklorist Alan Lomax makes their authenticity beyond reproach. Someone may have got the labels mixed up but professionally trained researchers and  collectors do not get their sources confused. Calum Galleitch, the reader who alerted us to the archive has sent two other links to recordings done by Lomax. They are of John Burgess and Willie Ross (pictured top in what is thought to be the first ever colour picture of a piper) and were made, we assume during the same visit to Scotland in 1951. In them we can hear both speaking and playing. Wonderful stuff, John sounding as though his voice has only just broken. Here are all three links:




CD-coverReceived a copy of Breton piper Xavier Boderiou’s new album the other day. It is of piobaireachd – but not as we know it. MacCrimmon may be throwing himself from the top of his windy cairn at Boreraig as I write, and I must confess on hearing track one I was near fit to burst too. But then sanity prevailed…… I laced the eventide Horlicks with something bracing, felt the re-assuring cocoon of a familiar armchair – and listened again. After a while I formed the view that whilst this music will probably never reach the top of the RW Hit Parade, the CD is very well done. The combination of instrumental effects grows on one the more one perseveres, though the low G on the chanter needs work and the interpretation has been stiffened up to accommodate the other players I fear. The production, accompaniment and piping is all of a very high standard. The packaging reflects this. The album is available in grainy vinyl too for you aural Luddites.  See what you think from part of this track, ‘MacCrimmon’s Sweetheart’:

More details on the album from Xavier

Entries for next year’s Archie Kenneth Quaich are healthier than ever, with a total of 36 pipers all signed up for the world’s top amateur piobaireachd competition. It is to be held in the Royal Scottish Pipers’ Society Rooms in Edinburgh on March 5. The good news is that no competitor has been turned away. In previous years the contest was restricted  to the first 25 to come forward, but numbers were always in excess of that. Faced with this welcome onslaught, the Music Committee of the Piobaireachd Society – the promoters – took the enlightened view that everyone should be allowed to play. Thus it is that two heats will run concurrently in the Rooms, with a final six or so being asked to play again for the much sought after trophy.

SPA President Tom Johnstone has reminded us that the second in the Association’s Knockout Contests takes place tomorrow night. The pipers are Stuart Liddell and Christopher Armstrong and the venue is the College of Piping at 7pm. Entry at the door; full bar service. Sponsors of the contest are McCallum Bagpipes who have kindly agreed to put up £500 in prizemoney. Final is on 7th May 2016

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1 thought on “PP Editor’s Blog: National Juvenile Pipe Band Fund/ Archive Recordings/ Archie Kenneth/ SPA KO etc

  1. Hi Rob,
    Those recordings of John McDonald,Burgess and Willie Ross are a Treasure trove,thank you and who ever else provided them. Great listening!
    Jimmy McIntosh.

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