Northern man Livingstone returns to his piping roots to perform in hometown Sudbury
Last year the piping legend Bill Livingstone released Northern Man, his most ambitious solo project that was three years in the making. Now, after a 45-year piping hiatus, he returns to his hometown of Sudbury in northern Ontario to perform the album in a local-boy-makes-good concert as part of the Sudbury Celtic Festival & Highland Games on May 22nd. Livingstone has not played the pipes in Sudbury since he left the town for law school in Toronto in 1965.
Livingstone will play and sing to backing tracks from the Northern Man CD that have been developed by the producer of the CD, Doug Stronach, using karaoke technology. The piping and vocal parts have been pulled out of the final mix.
“Who knows what the response will be?” Livingstone said. “I’ll explain ach track’s provenance and significance to me . . . and describe the motivation for each piece of music and the process by which this unique piping record has come about and try to involve the listener in what the goal was and is.”
Livingstone’s father, William Livingstone Sr., who was originally from Ayrshire, Scotland, was a major piping personality in the Sudbury area. The elder Livingstone taught numerous pipers in northern Ontario and founded and led the Copper Cliff Highlanders Pipe Band before he was ousted in a contentious takeover, leaving some ill-will in the local scene.
“Who knows what the response will be?” Livingstone said. “As a life-long traditionalist, and one who will never give up that commitment, I stand behind this record as an attempt to use the great pipe as a solo instrument, among other lead instruments in the creation of an orchestral ensemble, with the hope of persuading the doubters what an amazing instrument we play. It’s all thanks to the genius of Doug Stronach, who also deserves full credit for all arrangements. Not to overstate my or anyone’s importance, but Doug is my George Martin. I give him the melodies, and he creates the magic in the arrangements.”
As a younger man, Livingstone played keyboards in The Coppertones, a rock group made up of local musicians from the nearby town of Copper Cliff. He said that he looks forward to reconnecting with a few of the surviving members of the band.
“I’m hoping that some of the guys I played with will hear about this and show up for some reminiscing,” he said.
The Sudbury Celtic Festival & Highland Games will be held May 22-23 at Ecole Secondaire du Sacre Coeur on Notre Dame Avenue in Sudbury’s historic Flour Mill district. The Cape Breton fiddler Ashley MacIsaac is another headlining act scheduled to perform.