page 20

page 20

The 19 tracks on this album, lasting about 70 minutes in total, were recorded live at the North Hero gatherings in Vermont during the 2001, 2002 and 2003 meets by Ray Wall of Living Traditional Recordings © and is published by the Pipers’ Gathering Inc. which was formed in 1999 to “promote the music and playing of bagpipes in all their forms through workshops, education, social and cultural endeavours”. It is a non-profit organisa- tion and contributions from US citizens are tax deductible (!) The annual gatherings com- menced in 1984 and are for “alternative bagpipers” and attract over 100 players annually. The several types represented in this collection include Border pipes, (4 tracks - 2 by Moe- bius) Scottish smallpipes (4 tracks), Uillean pipes (8 tracks) and Northumbrian smallpipes. (3 tracks) It is a fact that about half the music is played on Uillean pipes and the other half is fairly evenly divided amongst the rest, Iain MacInnes and Fin Moore playing Hamish Moore’s Border and smallpipes ably represent the LBPS. The tunes Fin Moore plays are Back of the Change House and Moving Cloud. Iain plays The Ewe with Crookit Horn, “Sweet Molly”, “Macphee’s Reel”, Caber Feidh, Malcolm Curry by Willie Gray; Inver Lasses by Neil Gow; Buntata’s Sgadan by Allan MacDonald and on a later track Murdo Mackenzie of Torridon by Robert Macleod; The Glasgow Gaelic Club by William Dunn and Duncan McGillivray Chief Steward by James McGillivray. Matt Seattle gives a soulful rendering of his tune Lindisfarne on LBPS Chairman Nigel Richard’s Border pipes. Matt told me the tune was by popular request as he wanted to do something different. He is backed by Nigel on cittern and very nice and fresh it was too.

Given that the recordings were all made live at concerts in a tent the quality is uniformly of a very high order. One track that stays in my mind is Ian McHarg (Scottish smallpipes in A) and Aron Garceau (guitar). Ian plays an upbeat Paddy’s Leather Breeches plus two of his compositions - Mike and the Antipyper and Haggis the Cat. Picking on other favourite tracks is difficult and would only further reveal this reviewers prejudices. I tended to home in on the non-Uillean piping tracks. If you want to hear outstanding Northumbrian piping there are some great tracks by Dick Hensold, Ian Lawther and Andy May. I thought a better balance might have been achieved if other “alternative” pipes had been included such as Cornish, French and Spanish examples, however it has all come from North Hero past concerts so perhaps they were not represented. I look forward to future recordings from this venue.

I have no hesitation in recommending this enjoyable CD to LBPS members but caution those who are not aficionados of Irish piping, not that I am being critical of the quality of what is on offer, only the quantity. Comprehensive notes accompany this CD and include details of makers so that it is a shop window for those wishing to invest in new pipes and want to hear how they sound.

Check out their web site at www.pipersgathering.org for details of the 2004 meet and a wealth of information, pictures of past gatherings and useful links.


The CD is available in the UK from: Ian Clabburn, 6 Greyfriars Road, Daventry, Northants NN 11 4RS. Price £11.00 or from:

The Pipers Gathering CD co Steve Bliven 49 Plains Field Drive

South Dartmouth, USA

Checks or money orders only for $19.44

Jim Buchanan









THE WAY HOME By the Musicians of Road to the Isles (Music Tree 1011 CD)

‘Road to the Isles’ is a Scottish & Irish music & dance group based in Pittsburgh. The three musicians are featured on this CD; George Balderose on Smallpipes & Highland Pipes, Colyn Fisher on Fiddle & Richard Hughes on flute, vocals & guitar.

The group aims to provide a representative introduction to Scottish & Irish music for their audience, ‘transporting the listener homeward, back to the music’s sources.’ As you’d expect given this aim, the recording is very straightforward in style, and features some good old standards like The Irish Washerwoman, Erin Go Bragh, Scotland the Brave and others. This is by no means an ‘Irish Party Album’ though, and the groups repertoire as a whole has a surprising depth, including music from Allan MacDonald, tunes learned via Iain MacInnes & Hamish Moore, and a good selection of Lowland & Border style music as well as fiddle music by Scott Skinner & Neil Gow, and original compositions too.

The group instrumentals are measured in pace & relaxed in style, giving the album a mel- low, easy-going feel. They are played on flute, smallpipes & fiddle, without any other ac- companiment. The different instruments often drop in & out for a few bars, giving a surpris- ing variety of textures. The arrangements are loose and unfussy, and flow without rushing between the songs & instrumental solos.

Flautist Richard Hughes is also a strong singer. The high point for me is, surprisingly, his rendition of The Lark in the Morning, which he puts across well, with an attractively smoky Irish-style delivery. The low point is possibly The Land o the Leal, which plummets into a bit of a dirge. I like Richard’s voice on all the songs, but the choice of repertoire & the ar- rangements sometimes let him down, and the power of his delivery is sometimes diluted by an over reliance on a Scots or Irish accent.

The solos are, on the whole, well played. Colyn Fisher is a Scots fiddler of the Scott Skin- ner / slow strathspey-sort. His playing is lovely, with a delicate touch that adds to all of the tunes he plays.


George Balderose puffs up the Highland Pipes for Caber Feidh as a March/Strathspey/Reel. It’s well played, although seems to lack some of the energy & vibrancy of his smallpiping. His second set, Amazing Grace The Minstrel Boy/The Wearing of the Green and Scotland the Brave isn’t perhaps so exciting for us pipers, but it’s bound to be a crowd pleaser over in Pittsburgh!

The album finishes with a good rendition of Coffee & Tea & Wee Totum Fogg, as good an example as any of George’s lively, engaging style on the smallpipes.

Potentially not a particularly exciting album ‘The Way Home' is held up by the quality of the musicianship. George's smallpiping style is worth a listen, and the light airy instrumen- tal arrangements give a feel-good factor to much of the album. Not a classic, but a good listen for the most part, and a top quality introduction to genuine Scottish & Irish traditional music for audiences ‘over the water’.

Donald Lindsay