Editor’s Notebook: Northern Ireland Leads the Breakout/ Interview/ SPA Solos/ Queen’s Own Pictures/ Jakez’s Tune for Bob Hardie

Cue Steve McQueen and his motorbike……The Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA are leading the great escape with an announcement yesterday of their summer festival.

And it will include competitiive solo piping and drumming. It is not clear if these will be held outdoors or in, but anything live and I’ll take it. The date is August 21 in Cookstown.

The branch have other summer festival events lined up, though these will be non-competitive. The first event, in Antrim on August 7, features pipe bands, drum majors and Highland dancing. The final event is in Bangor on September 4th with the same fare.

Still awaiting the RSPBAs plans which were due to released ‘in May’.

Good to see bagmaker Jimmy Begg joining the cause: ‘You read in the press every day about fans returning to football matches, rocks bands performing in front of thousands, night clubs back in full swing and so on.

‘We know travel between countries is an issue but surely UK pipers and drummers can restart some form of competition? The delay is crazy. We have a few top end solo events scheduled in Scotland later in the year including I believe the Northern Meeting in Inverness, the Argyllshire Gathering at Oban and the Lochaber Gathering – their organisers all seem to be on the ball and well done to them.

‘The first two in particular are much sought-after events in which to play and whilst travel may be difficult, the lure of these top events will outweigh any worries regarding missing a big foreign input.’


Those interested in more ‘Thoughts of Chairman Wallace’ may like to tune in to an interview I gave to Heather Armstrong at the Scotia Music website in Nova Scotia the other day. Here’s the link.


President Logan Tannock of the Scottish Pipers’ Association: ‘SPA Professional Competition entries close next week. Anyone who is intending to enter should get their entry in quickly. A reminder of the important dates and info below.

  • All Entries close at 5pm on 4th June 2021 – No Late Entries Will be Accepted
  • Tunes will be assigned to the competitor  on Sunday 6th of June 2021.
  • Competitors Video Entry must be received no later than 5pm on Saturday 12th June – Late Entries will not be Accepted
  • The full prizegiving will take place on Sunday 27th of June 2021

Event Rules

  1. All competitors should be in appropriate uniform. 
  2. You must submit an individual video for each event. 
  3. You must introduce yourself on each event and include the event name and tunes played. Failure to do so will result in your video not being accepted.
  4. More info here.


Thanks to John Haynes of the Pride of Murray PIpe Band for the picture at the head of this Notebook. John writes: ‘Relative to the pic of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders in Piping Press, the P/M of my band  when it first formed from an ATC band in 1953 was a Bill Cook.

‘I knew he was an ex-Chindit and had been quite ill after it, but in talking with him one day he said that Evan Macrae  and he had joined up on the same day, their Army numbers being one apart.   

‘Looking at the QOCH header picture [above] I can recognise him at fourth from the left in the third row. I attach a pic of him with me and the P/Sgt taken in 1954.’


It is hard to quantify the impact Jakez Pincet (pictured top) has had on piping and piobaireachd playing in his native Brittany. For decades now he has led the way in teaching, composing and generally raising awareness of the GHB in that part of the world.

With his An Ere band he pioneered pipe band music in Brittany and took no shortage of flak for conforming to the Scottish pipe band model rather than the bagad and its bombardes.

Jakez was an outstanding solo player, particularly of piobaireachd. He won several prizes in the Gold Medal and many important awards round the games. Now aged 77, he still spends much of his time teaching and composing.

I got to know him really well when the Muirheads band visited Brittany on many trips in the 70s. He was a great admirer of Bob Hardie and has now written a piobaireachd in his memory.

Jakez writes: ‘Enclosed is a recent composed piece of piob. submitted for your appreciation. I wrote it when thinking back to the old days. If you think someone else has composed a piece as a tribute to Bob, well let me know (it could have been yourself, by the way!)

‘It’s not a long tune with only two lines, each repeated, and including some novelties. You will not offend me if you dislike it. So don’t hesitate to tell me frankly. I have tried to be original in souvenir of your many invitations in Brittany, and in remembrance of your close friendship position you were with Bob, and also, mentioning Bob Turner. So I let you appreciate, or not, this music, taking time, if you have some, maybe to try it?’

I’ll definitely give it a go Jakez. It looks a very original composition, with as you say ‘some novelties’. Bob would have been thrilled to receive it and all those who knew him will be delighted you have remembered him in this way.

Download the music here.

2 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook: Northern Ireland Leads the Breakout/ Interview/ SPA Solos/ Queen’s Own Pictures/ Jakez’s Tune for Bob Hardie

  1. Hello Rab. The article on the Cameron Highlanders shown today 29/5 may have solved a long standing query that has been with me for fifty years plus. Sometime during the period 1999 – 72 I was at home then in Newport, South Wales on a sunny summer morning when I heard a very distant sound of the pipes. Curiosity got the better of me and I went to investigate where it was coming from and eventually found the location at The Civil Service Ground. There sat on the ground away from the clubhouse were three people of whom one was holding set of pipes. I respectively sat some distance away from this group and just listened to the piper play. On completion he beckoned to me to come and sit closer and asked if I would like a tune to be played. I requested Blue Bonnets Over the Border as being the tune that sprung to mind that instant. After the tune introductions took place and the piper stated that his name was Bill Cook and had served in the Camerons. He was with his wife and son and his son was staying quite local hence their presence at the ground. Alas, I did not hear Bill Cook play again. However, I did notice of that his pipes were of quality, possibly Henderson or Lawrie and that he was at ease in playing despite sitting on the ground. Such was the impression made on me that sunny summer morning by this gentlemen. I have ask several ex-Camerons if they knew of Bill Cook but to no avail, as he was, as I now know, of an earlier generation.

  2. Hello Bob

    I’ve been a disciple of Jakez when I was a member of the ABSC (Association de Breton Soloiste de Cornemuse)) and I use to compete as a solo piper in Brittany in the 80s. Jakez is a very prolific composer and arranger. In the 70s he did open the minds in Brittany regarding the real aspect of the GHB. When he was in An Ere (among which played Patrick Molard), Jakez was called an ‘Ecossomane’ (a Scotomaniac) regading his tastes in pipe music, even though the band played Scottish music along with Breton music. But by this time, the musical minds were rather closed in Brittany, not playing with a bombarde in couple considered as a sacrilege. So the task was not easy, but Jakez held on. In addition I feel it’s tremendous to remind the series of his books: ‘Art et Pratique de la grande cornemuse Ecossaise’ in six volumes, an exhaustive treatise about our beloved GHB
    To close with, I am myself a great admirer of R.G aka Bob Hardie for his beautiful pipe making, and his leading of the Muirheads of which I also am a fan. By the way, I presently play a RGH set that I purchased vie the CoP in 1992. This set is a representative of the quality of ABW that Bob selected and made to mature for his making, but coupled with an ABW D. Naill chanter, what a union! Have a guid day Bob. Jean Michel.

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