PP Ed’s Blog: Glenfiddich/ Strachur/ Bobby MacLeod/ Scots Guards KO

‘Charlie’ posted a comment on the Glenfiddich results report asking if I will be doing a critique on this year’s performances. The answer is no Charlie. They don’t invite me I’m afraid. The last time I was there, in 2014, I had to ask for a press pass. People might not realise it but behind all the smiles and bonhomie on display …..

My report that year mentioned that the audience seating was sore on the backside and that it was time they had tuning lights, and on another occasion I reported that it was time they stopped allowing the competitors to submit the same ‘pot boiler’ tunes year after year. None of that went down too well. You would have thought that after forty odd years they would be mature enough to accept fair comment.

2017 Glenfiddich Champion Jack Lee

Anyway, my situation is unimportant and I would like join with all our readers in offering congratulations to Jack Lee on his success.  Some good news too for the Canadian west coast still in grief after the tragic loss of Andrew Bonar. After winning the Former Winners’ MSR at Oban Jack hinted that he might only be competing for one more year ‘to see how that goes’. Clearly there’s a lot of good playing left in the man so let’s hope he keeps at it for a few years more and I should imagine he’ll be back to defend his G’fidd title next year.

Congratulations are also in order for Sandy Jones on winning the Balvenie Medal for Services to Piping. Sandy has done an inordinate amount of work spreading the piping word throughout North America with his academy of piping and drumming. Forty-five years and still going strong.

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Talking of the Balvenie Medal, I was up in Strachur at the weekend for a benefit gig for the village’s Old Smiddy Museum. Members of the audience spoke of the good work being done by Balvenie recipient and piping instructor Kate Paton. One of her pupils, young Jamie Campbell, was there for a listen. Jamie is the grandson of Niall Campbell (Mr Niall) the first schools piping instructor in the area who I knew well. Good to see Jamie continuing his family’s piping tradition.

One of the tunes we played during the concert was the 6/8 MacLeod of Mull written by P/M Donald MacLeod for that doyen of accordion players, Bobby MacLeod. By coincidence Bobby’s son, ‘young’ Bobby, was doing the Take the Floor session this weekend on BBC Radio Scotland. Good to hear so many pipe tunes played so well on the box. Bobby regularly keeps us well looked after, musically and otherwise, at the Tobermory après games activities.

Talking of Tobermory, Mull’s school’s piping tutor Calum MacLean was the star man on a recent BBC documentary ‘The County Council’ featuring Argyll & Bute. Calum was filmed getting on and off boats on his way to various schools. These included the one on the island of Iona where he has only one student but who looks forward to her lessons just like all the other kids in his catchment area. I liked Calum’s description of the west coast rain as ‘liquid sunshine’! Calum is pictured below and up top with his kids in the Tobermory Schools Pipe Band as shown on the tv show.

Calum on the telly

P/M Jimmy Banks MBE on yesterday’s Scots Guards KO: ‘The heat on Sunday 29 October saw Ben  Duncan winning through in our KO  against John Dew in front of an audience 60+. What a good day; very good piping; great crowd; both played extremely well; a close result.’

Sixty plus crowd! Well done to all concerned and to Ben and John for putting on such a good show.

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7 thoughts on “PP Ed’s Blog: Glenfiddich/ Strachur/ Bobby MacLeod/ Scots Guards KO

  1. Sandy Jones deserves his medal! He is tireless in the work he does to promote/teach piping in the U.S.! I’m very pleased that he has been chosen!

  2. Thank you for your response Rob.

    It wasn’t so much the organisation of the event itself I was looking for your feedback on, but more so critique of the individual performances. Perhaps this could be an option when the performances are available to view on-demand on the National Piping Centre’s Vimeo account?

  3. The seats are horrendously uncomfortable, or were up till the last time I attended. After my first visit, I took to bringing a pillow to sit on. Tuning lights – definitely. We started timing the competitors and it peaked at 14 minutes for one of our instrument’s greatest exponents. Life’s too short …

  4. Rab,
    I see what you mean about players at the Glenfiddich submitting the same tunes year on year. Alasdair Henderson got to play the same piobaireachd this year as he did last year, I got a kiss of the King’s hand. Not his fault that he got the same tune, but do the judges not look back at what players played in recent years and try to mix things up a bit?

  5. Firstly congrats to Jack Lee. It is rare these days for someone to do well in both events, and a remarkable achievement after almost 40 years at the top.
    Secondly I think it is disgraceful that you are not invited to attend the Glenfiddich. I applaud your frank and honest approach to commentary, rather than the old school who just are content with the way things are – because they have always been like that!

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