Friday night I attended the “new” Toronto Branch’s meeting after our first significant snowfall. There had been a big party in the Officers’ Mess at Denison Armoury so the place was well catered with fresh leftovers.
A small crowd of passionate pipers and drummers came out, just to talk about the art and hear some good playing. Ian K. MacDonald’s hands and pipe were in good form. He plays a mean “Alex MacDonald,” handling the C’s in the tricky fourth part like no one else.
But the other highlight for me was the playing of young Aiden Bowen, who is the son of the famous Tommy “T-Bowen” Bowen, one of piping’s good guys. Aiden’s been on the pipes for only a year, but this kid is going to be something if he keeps at it. He seemed unfazed by performing in front of the likes of MacDonald, George, Campbell, Ed Neigh and other luminaries.
The opportunities for kids to perform just for fun before a potentially intimidating audience are relatively few these days. People older than 40 talk about their memories of playing at the SPA, or the Toronto Branch, or the Eagle Pipers often as turning points in their careers. It makes sense to always let up-and-comers to show their stuff and do their best, especially on a cold winter night when the piping heart could use some warming.