August 31, 2012

(HD video) Piping Live! Day 3: soaking it up and in

The Wednesday of World’s Week is the usually the last day of relaxation and pure freedom before the reality of Saturday sets in for competitors playing at the Big One on the Green, and the bright weather made the day extra special, especially for the free outdoors events, which drew more large crowds.

Piping Live! days always start with a slow build. If the National Piping Centre seems deserted at 10 am, it’s because it pretty much is. But by 11 am both it and George Square – the two centres of action during the week – are buzzing.

The first band to perform in GSquare was Simon Fraser University, and they attracted an immediate throng. SFU makes it tough for those stationed in Glasgow to hear them, since they hole up in their traditional pastoral digs at the University of Stirling, avoiding the hubbub of GLA at almost all costs. So when the five-time World’s winners perform before Saturday it’s a big deal. The big band was followed right after at noon by the feeder group, Robert Malcolm Memorial.

At 1 pm the Pipes+Drums recital sessions at the Street Café commenced, with five groups of pipe-majors and leading-drummers taking the burger-smoky stage. Ross Walker and Gordon Brown of Boghall & Bathgate started the pipes|drums-sponsored event with a smoking 20-minute set, after which not a few pipers said something to the effect of, “I never knew how really good Ross is as a solo piper.” True enough, the Boghall P-M never went in for the solos, committing himself to the band, but somewhere along the way the dude learned to play.


The Boggies were followed by Doug MacRae and Drew Duthart of the 78th Fraser Highlanders and then Colin Armstrong and Glenn Kvidahl of the LA Scots – top-flight soloists and bandsmen all, and both duets couldn’t resist the urge to bend the “rules” of the event by bringing along a bass and/or tenor player to tart things up a shade. Pipe-Major Neil Hall and Leading-Drummer Jake Jorgensen of Lothian & Borders Police were next to blow away the crowd, and you’d be hard-pressed to hear a more robust pipe than that of the Edinburgh pipey. Rounding out the two hours of free virtuoso fun were Andrew Douglas and Eric MacNeill of Oran Mor who, like the rest, demonstrated that top-drawer bands are built on the musical chemistry of their leaders. It was heartening to see such a young crowd – upwards of 200 people – soaking up the Pipes+Drums clinic as they soaked up the Strathclyde sunshine.

While all that was going on SFU Pipe-Sergeant Jack Lee did his thing inside the baking Piping Centre Auditorium. Most Scottish buildings are still not equipped with air conditioning so, any time the temperature gets above, say, 18, these structures become saunas. No worries; the icy composure that is Jack Lee cooled off the joint, while doing the usual finger-blazing.

A quick bite to eat and it was yet another trip back to George Square, which is only about 10 minutes’ walk, but, when you’re racing not to miss something, it can feel like you’re walking in quicksand. The best way to improve Piping Live! would be to move the National Piping Centre and The Square closer together. In 2013, make it so!

But at George Square it was the Toronto Police Pipe Band’s day to shine in the sun, as the band marked its 100th anniversary year with a 45-minute show and then a two-hour party in the marquee tent with fun a fun trivia quiz, “Toronto Burgers” to eat, and plenty of beer to quaff. The band drew names from a hat to assign impromptu duets to players who then had to perform a mini-show.


Although Drumming For Drinks is not an official part of Piping Live! the event is a staple of the week. This year’s DfoD was sold-out to the tune of more than 500 people, all packing into the Lord Todd Bar to see the percussionary circus organized by Jim Kilpatrick, Tyler Fry and Scott Currie, all of Shotts & Dykehead. The news of Kilpatrick’s three-month RSPBA suspension made it to the crowd, which reacted with a hearty “Boooo!” Kilpatrick and his corps performed for what will likely be the last time for a while, or perhaps even forever, depending on if the band is able to regroup. A special appearance by the Top Secret Drum Corps of Switzerland, playing 40 miles away at the Edinburgh Tattoo brought down the house.

It was already evening and time to get more grub down ya before heading over to Boghall & Bathgate’s “Forte” show at the Royal Glasgow Concert Hall, and the close of another stowed-out day of fun and frolics at Piping Live! 2012.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for video highlights from Piping Live! Day 3 and more from the Glasgow International Festival of Piping.




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