August 31, 2010

Piping Live! Day 5: giddy up

Meaghan Proudfoot reoprts

Well lo and behold. When I peered out the window at the crack of 9:30 this morning, the glorious sun shone yet again upon the streets of Glasgow. If I hadn’t felt like cotton balls had invaded my eye sockets, jumpy claps would have been in order. Could it really be that brilliant weather would once again be in order and for the whole day? I skipped (lumbered) to breakfast, anxious to inhale my beans ‘n toast and get the day started.

First though, a band practice. As we struck up along the banks of the Clyde, I tried to remember the last time that heat was what we were trying to manage when it come to sound. Even my water trap was bone dry when I tipped my pipes over and gave them a shake. Usually it’s the rain, the wind, the hail and the complete numbness from the cold in my hands that I have to deal with on the annual trip to World’s. The global weather conditions must indeed be in upheaval when my only complaint about band practice in Glasgow is that it’s too hot.

It was mid-afternoon before I headed out to catch some of Day 5 of Piping Live! My first stop was at the NationalPiping Centre for the finale of Pipe Idol. The Street Café and surrounding area were already packed half an hour before the contest’s start, all eagerly anticipating performances by finalists Chris MacDonald, Alex Gandy, Steven Leask and Jamie Hawke. Brilliant, crowd pleasing performances by all with Gandy taking home the prize of lovely set of Fred Morrison Border Pipes.

It was a hop, skip and a jump over to George Square to have a listen to Rough Tides a short while later. The enclosed Square Bar was packed full to listen to the enchanting mix of vocals, whistles, accordion and Uilleann pipes. As we sat outsite, enjoying the music and the ever-present sunshine, I made note of the impressive venue that the Square has become for Piping Live. From having maybe a kiosk or two just a few short years ago to now having a large, fully enclosed bar, an enclosed art gallery, tented vendor kiosks , and sheltered grand stand seating overlooking an fenced performance area. There was even a wee booth were you could buy World’s and festival tickets and programs. Every year, it just gets better and better.

We trotted back over to the Piping Centre for Glenfiddich‘s final tasting session of the festival and sampled some 10, 12, 21 and 30 year old single malt. Our host did have some interesting information to pass on, like the fact that Taiwan makes up 9 per cent of Glenfiddich’s market share (impressive when compared to the UK’s 13 per cent or the United States’ 14 per cent), but the marketer in me longed for a printed promotional piece and some branded signage. A whisky tasting should be held some place with class and atmosphere, not in a back-alley-esque stuffy corridor, no?

All was made right again as we headed outdoors to hear the lovely sounds of Ecletnica Pagus on stage at the Street Café. The Italian group’s melange of bass clarinet, oboe, accordion, harp, percussion and Italian bagpipes almost made me giddy. Their music was absolutely beautiful and a single set would take me through a range of emotions from happiness to longing to sadness to excited. If I had spied any CDs for sale I would have bought one in an instant.

The crowd then shifted to listen to ScottishPower having practicing beside the Piping Centre. They had the type of high A so clear that the sound almost disappeared when the note was played. We left the ever-growing crowd for dinner and then to retire early before the big day tomorrow.

Best of luck to everyone playing on Saturday. Here’s to the sun shining and blue skies all day!

Meaghan Proudfoot (Twitter @MeaghProudfoot) hails from Maxville, Ontario, Canada and currently lives in Northern Ireland. She is a public r-Relations & marketing consultant, arts & entertainment specialist, piper and sticker-of-finger in as many pipe-band-world-pies as possible. This season she is playing with the Banbridge Pipe Band.




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