August 31, 2011

Piping Live – Day 3: wet, wet, as listeners seek musical shelter

Despicably poor weather was literally on tap for the whole of Wednesday, as rain beat down on Glasgow throughout the day, spoiling many outdoor events, but bringing strong crowds to the indoor sessions.

Over the week bands are ­featured at George Square, the centre of the city’s centre, and unlucky groups such as Oban, New York Metro, Canterbury Caledonian, Inveraray and Dowco-Triumph Street faced the luck of the clouds over the day.

But back at the National Piping Centre it was pipes|drums Magazine’s turn to sponsor the Street Café, which began with the interesting sounds and music of Croatian Gajde player, Stjepan Veckovic, who took time to explain his various folks instruments, national music and improvisational techniques.

The Street Café stage was handed over to Michael Grey of Canada, who performed for 45 minutes with entirely his own popular compositions, probably a first for a full-length recital by a prominent composer. Grey’s playing was loudly applauded, as was his witty repartee at the microphone, as he took the time to connect with the strong audience with anecdotes about many of his compositions.

Grey provided another classy touch by bringing along CDs containing the scores of the music he performed for the 100-plus-strong crowd.

The audience grew even larger for the Pipes+Drums hour-long recital, also brought to Piping Live! by pipes|drums Magazine. Four duos of pipe-majors and leading-drummers from prominent Grade 1 bands performed for 15 minutes each, while the audience had a chance to win terrific prizes donated by pipes|drums advertisers. Inveraray & District’s Stuart Liddell and Steven McWhirter, ScottishPower’s Chris Armstrong and Barry Wilson, Manawatu’s Stewart McKenzie and Graeme Parker, and Peel Regional Police’s John Cairns and Graham Brown all knocked the wet socks off of the packed marquee.


Watch pipes|drums in the future for video highlights from these sponsored events.

The third round of Pipe Idol brought more young piping stars to the stage. The prodigies this time were Aaron Stone, Jonathan Lamberton, Angus J. MacColl and Emmett Conway, each wowing the audience yet again. In the end, it was the young MacColl from Benderloch, Scotland, who got the nod from the three unnamed judges to go through to the Friday final.

Rain continued to lash down, so heading inside the National Piping Centre for the official launch of Allan MacDonald’s new second collection of music – An Dara Ceud (The Second Hundred) -was just the thing. MacDonald’s first book, The Moidart Collection, is one of the great compilations of the last 20 years, at least, so his second effort is welcomed.

A too-quick bite to eat before one of the main attractions of the Piping Live! week, the “Energy” concert by ScottishPower. A good and enthusiastic crowd enjoyed an event that was exceedingly well orchestrated – truly speaking. The band was accompanied frequently by a stage-full of strings, providing a decidedly different, tasteful and altogether new show to the critical masses. Again, watch pipes|drums for more on the “Energy” concert.

As people streamed out of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall it was – you guessed it – still raining, but just a little lighter, giving hope that Thursday, Friday and, of course, the big day on Saturday will see better weather. It couldn’t get much worse.


But the Piping Live! music and fun couldn’t get much better. Or could it?

Stay tuned.


  1. Actually, huge kudos to the Piping Live! organizers, they added a tent to George Square and I was able to watch Inverary & District and Dowco Triumph Street’s performances today from inside a standing-room only tent on the side of the square. A bit muggy, but a great event!



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