I received this today from the bearded god, Gus Sicard!! It’s the drum score that he so kindly wrote to accompany my Grans tune. It’s a beautiful thing. It really means a lot to me that he took time to do this. You can hear him playing this on myself and Ross’ album, Symbiosis! Thanks man!!!
So, as I re read my post on A Highland pipes, I realise it might have implied that there aren’t many good makers out there………this isn’t true. There are several great makers of all kinds of non conventional bagpipes. I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have had the support and friendship of a maker in particular, Nigel Richard. I have played Garvie border pipes for years now and still support Nigel. They have served me very well. He’s also someone that has been very kind, and patient throughout my development and growth as a musician. His bellows blown pipes are among the best. I’m very grateful for his friendship and support, and many emergency appointments along the way. Nigel is on a list of some very fine pipe makers. There are several makers now that make fine instruments to a very high standard. I believe the choice you make is based on taste, sound, and playability. You can rely on Garvie, Burgess, Moore and Macallum for instruments that perform at a professional level. They all make a wide range of bagpipes. My personal choice is to work with Garvie and Burgess bagpipes. I believe that they make instruments to suit my needs and specifications. They are also very interested on a personal level.
So……….check these guys out. As I said, it really all boils down to what sounds good to your ear. All of these makers have a very distinct sound, and design.
My frustration with Border pipes is something that has developed over the last few years. I love the sound of borders, and their ability to consistently play chromatic notes, enabling for navigation round more complex music. The overall functionality, and practicality of borders are what drove me back on the hunt for A highland pipes. If you play more instruments than just pipes on a gig, you may find that there are logistical issues with borders that can be restricting. The problems I’ve been finding recently are the constant strapping, and unstrapping of bellows. This consumes a massive amount of time during a gig, and causes unnecessary distraction. Especially when going between instruments. If you don’t want to play whistle whilst remaining strapped to your bellows then you must build in time within the musical arrangements to allow for a smooth changeover. This can be detrimental to the shape, and dynamics of the music. I’ve also found recently that doing full gigs with bellows, in fact doing month long tours can be very tiring on the arm. This sometimes causing discomfort to my right hand. One of the other reasons I’ve moved away from using borders is that if anything goes wrong with them when you’re far from home, they’re not easy to pick up supplies for. The chanter reeds are not commonly found globally. It’s much easier to find highland bagpipe supplies most places these days, especially in the US and Canada (unless Trump takes a disliking to the pipes next).
So, I decided to pursue the elusive A highland bagpipe. This isnt made by many bagpipe makers. It is however catching on at the moment because of the interest shown by pipers performing outwith pipe band, and competitive circles. There aren’t many companies making and developing these pipes.
At last years piping live I met a father and son, Burgess and Scott, who were very new to the bagpipe making business. They are the loveliest of folk, and are very enthusiastic about the making and development of bagpipes. Their company name is Burgess Bagpipes. This is a two man, family run operation based in Forres. These guys are incredible. For such a new company, the quality of their instruments are of a very high standard. The build is quality, the look is unique, and the sound rivals any of the other top modern bagpipe makers. Their border pipes in particular sound amazing. Made from the finest Blackwood, with titanium mounts. The tuning is spot on, and fully chromatic. They have a very sweet, direct sound. Over the last year or so I’ve become pals with these guys. They’ve been very supportive of my career and I’m very grateful for that. They were very understanding when I moaned about my recent border pipe issues. I mentioned to them that I was very keen on getting A highlands but that there weren’t really many good solid builds out there. This is something that they had been thinking about for sometime also. So, they set to work, becoming intensely involved in the development of these pipes. Which when you run a company based on making instruments to order, this can be a bit of a distraction. But, definitely a distraction that is going to pay off! After several months of research and development, the guys have made a couple of sets. I travelled to Forres yesterday to pick them up for myself and Ross to try! I have to say, they are sounding great. The drones are steady, the chanter volume is well balanced against the drones, they have a nice highland pipe sound, without being too loud. There are a few tweaks here and there but watch this space. These are going to be a necessity for any piper who plays with other instruments.
Hi there. The new album from Old Blind Dogs is available to buy via our new website. The album showcases Scottish tunes and songs, both new and old! Also featured is the newest member of the doghouse, Proffesor Donald ‘Drummy’ Hay!
You can only buy the album here ……https://www.oldblinddogs.co.uk/listen
So come and grab your copy. Get swinging yersels aboot the hoose!!
So, who would believe it……….we won! This was massively unexpected, but a nice surprise all the same. We’re very honoured to be recognised for the work that we’ve produced over the last year or so. This project is something that has evolved naturally and has become a great joy to be part of. The support that we have received has been overwhelming and we thank you all for getting behind us. It’s a beautiful thing! Oh aye, and I get to do it with my best mate and someone who I’ve been through a lot with. Love ya man!!
The bitter sweet aspect to all of this is that this has all happened days after the passing of my Grandad. I was very close to him. He was my best friend, hero, role model, and father figure. I will be eternally thankful for his support and love. He is the reason that I have been allowed to play music, and for it become my life. He took me to my piping lessons, band practice, competitions, bought me my first ever set of bagpipes, and made me practice when I really didn’t want to! My sister told me that Grandad and Gran were determined to go to the folk awards in London, even though I’d told them that I wasn’t going to be there. Which given that he had to get everywhere on his scooter, meant so much. I was concerned that they would go all that way and that we wouldn’t have won it. However, he passed away and never even had the choice to hobble down there. So, I’m glad we did win, for my Grandad!!! I’ll miss him everyday!!
We’ve started! It’s happening!! Symbiosis the sequel is underway. Myself and Ross…..sorry, Ross and I have spent the last week writing and arranging music for our new album. We’re getting very close to having most of the material written. It’s looking good so far! Thumbs up emoji!! We’ve decided this time to offer you the opportunity to commission us to write a tune, just for you 👉.It’s £400 per tune. If you’re interested, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org……. We’ll also be doing pre releases on bandcamp. Keep your eyes and ears open for the latest as we go!! Recording begins in May!! Wish us luck!!!
This is the latest job I’m working on. I’m producing Dougie’s debut album. He’s found some time outside his busy schedule with the chilli pipers to record a bunch of his own tunes, and some penned by others. We have a great squad working on this album. Master sound man, Andrea Gobbi is at the helm. The musicians are Pablo Lafuente on Guitar, Gus Stirrat on Bass, Graeme Rorie on Fiddle and Matt Arnott on Drums. They are very talented players and have put together some rocking arrangements. There are flavours of Rockabilly, Stadium Rock, Indie and of course Folk. Its a real pleasure to work with Dougie. Keep yer eyes peeled for the release of the album.
Twitter – @dougiethepiper