------Est. 1980 Glasgow city centre's oldest bagpipe shop------
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Newsletter - February 2013
Dear Piping Enthusiast,
January was another hectic month on the bag making side of the business, and it is pleasing to note the continued growth in demand for sheep. Another new customer is the very interesting Bagad Cap Caval from France, under the guidance of the well known Pipe Major Sylvain Hamon. We have seen them on many occasions in Scotland, going back as far as 1996, with their cornemuse (bagpipes), bombarde, caisse claire and percussion. They are the most successful Breton Band ever and gained their promotion to Grade 1 status in 2009. So with memories of the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France - Bienvenue et it de bon de vous avoir à bord.
James C. Begg
For any band coming over to the World Championships in August, I have a good contact for affordable accommodation at Langside College on the south side of Glasgow. If you are interested, please let me know and I'll put you in touch with the College - they can take up to 45 persons.
If you are in the area during early March, don't miss out on the annual Uist and Barra solo piping competition taking place at the College of Piping on the 9th. I hope to attend as usual - there is always good playing with a warm welcome and I am pleased to support a great association and local piping.
Any Questions? - for P/M Willie Cochrane
Following a distinguished career as Pipe Major of one of Scotland's most famous Regiments, The King's Own Scottish Borderers, Willie Cochrane found himself in demand both in the United Kingdom and overseas, as a professional piper, entertainer and ambassador extraordinaire. He has played in many TV shows and movies, including "Tea with Mussolini" directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Willie has also toured with Paul McCartney and Wings, Rod Stewart and the Faces and recorded with the late Robin Gibb of The Bee Gees.
Q. At what age did you start playing and who were/are your tutors?
A. I started the chanter aged 6 and was tutored by my grandfather Willie McRobert, ex Royal Scots, who served in the 1st World War.
Q. What is the best piping advice you’ve had and who gave it to you?
A. Make sure your pipes are maintained properly and if your pipes are finely tuned, you play much better. This also gives you more confidence especially in piobaireach music. This advice was given to me by John MacLellan at Edinburgh Castle around 1960/61.
Q. What would you say has been your biggest piping difficulty?
A.Trying to keep my pipes going in Aden in the desert and in Borneo in the jungle - a nightmare.
Q. Which is the best piping book?
A. Willie Ross Collection but there are many other fine books.
Q. Who is your favourite player and why - past or present?
A. Donald MacLeod and John Burgess, and also Donald MacPherson on piobaireachd. I am also amazed by the new generation of pipers with so many brilliant players.
Q. Is there something in piping you wish you could have done but haven’t as yet?
A.I never really got the chance to compete in my early years since I always seemed to abroad with the Army.
Q. What is your pet hate within piping?
A. People talking good tunes but not being able to play them and I also hate pipes not being tuned properly. I have also had it with requests for Amazing Grace.
Q. What has been your happiest piping moment?
A. Passing my Pipe Major's course in 1961 with flying colours and being made Pipe Major of my Regiment. I have also been very happy when I went into show business doing film and TV work and live shows all round the world.
Q. What is your most prized piping possession?
A. A good working liver!! Also various articles handed down through my piping family.
Q. What do you do outwith piping that might surprise us?
A. I am a football nut and season ticket holder at my local club - The "Spurs". I also take a keen interest in politics and support the Labour party.
Willie - thank you so much!
Lovely old Pipes of Character.
We have on offer a lovely old set of Duncan MacRae pipes with full ivory and nickle slides. We have fully restored them and whilst they naturally show signs of age, this results in them having huge character - an opulent pipe which is not as old as the recently discovered skeleton of King Richard the Third of England, but just as evocative!. Duncan MacRae was a historic maker just along from me in Argyle St and his business ran from 1897 until 1952, eventually being taken over by Grainger and Campbell following the passing of Duncan himself in 1930 and then his son James in 1951. Duncan was not a player but was known for his innovations to the pipes - i.e. a couple of examples are stocks that had a screw to fit the bag and metal slides instead of hemp. This set has metal sleeves. Indicative price would be in the region of £2000 so if this appeals, give us a call.
I had the pleasure recently to attend the "House Dinner" of the Glasgow Highland Club, which was held at the Glasgow Art Club just opposite my shop in Bath Street. The Club does a tremendous job in promoting all things related to Highland culture, dress, music, dance, literature and heritage and of particular interest to me of course, is their support and commitment to piping. Many of the members play and range from those of modest ability right through to some of the greats like John Wilson, formerly of Strathclyde Police. The Club band meets and performs regularly but doesn't compete - for some pipers, this is an ideal approach whereby there is less pressure and less of a time commitment compared to that of a competing band. Never-the-less, they still perform confidently and achieve a decent standard with a maturity of tone - I am sure they will give the Edinburgers from the Royal Pipers Society (also known as the Jolly Boys) a run for their money when they visit Glasgow in April/May for our annual getogether and "friendly" competition. The night itself was hosted by the genial James Beaton, and all in all it was a great night - I commend membership of the Club to you if you live in the vicinity, but it can be tricky to get in unless you have an invitation from a member.
My brother Bill, who pipes and fiddles, started a similar society in Zimbabwe when he lived there. The Highland Club of Zimbabwe met on regular occasions at various grand locations across the country including full black tie dinners in the bush but alas, the club is no more - most members left that beautiful country as it embarked on its dreadful downward spiral. Picture is of Bill at Iwaba Game Reserve, Gweru, Zimbabwe, circa 1998.
James C. Begg
A Passing Thought
Don't forget that we are here to give you fully independent advice on any aspect of piping. If you ask a friend as to how you sound, he or she is not going to give you the whole truth - you will normally just get some sweet waffle that won't get to the root and solution of any problem. So just ask us - our advice is free of charge and comes with no obligation - pop into the shop, email us, call us, or send a recording. It would be good to hear from you.
If you would like to report on any aspect of the Piping World from wherever you live, or if you would like to comment on any articles or issues, we'd be pleased to hear from you. mailto:email@example.com