The Best I Ever Played

November 15, 2016 on 7:43 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Solo Piping, Tips | No Comments

When I first starting competing in Scotland and going around the competitions, there was no shortage of fun to go along with the games. Like today, only it seems to me that then there were more eccentric, larger-than-life types around the whole of the scene. It may have been my youthful, wide-eyed interpretation of what I experienced that makes me think this. But then, on reflection, I don’t think so.
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Iain MacFarlane’s “Gallop to Callop”

October 18, 2016 on 6:18 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Reviews | No Comments

Earlier this year – like, say, late January – Duncan Nicholson gifted a copy of Iain McFarlane’s (still) new record, “Gallop to Callop”. I was especially happy to get it – an old school CD (talking medium not music) – as I knew Iain’s playing a little – and was looking forward to having a listen. Well, as it turned out, the CD got lost in one of the super-secret zipper pockets of my pipe case and it wasn’t until early summer I found it along with a past-it’s-best-before-date energy bar. The Greek yoghurt cinnamon seaweed bar went to compost and “Gallop to Callop” to the top of my favourites playlist. Since then Iain’s music has kept me company and my blood pressure to reasonable levels on countless commutes from Dundas to work in Toronto – and home again.
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A Jig is a Jig

September 9, 2016 on 6:01 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Music, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on A Jig is a Jig

THERE was a time when I thought that one of the hardest things I’d ever done in my life was to play Peter MacLeod’s tune Donald MacLean, twice through in the jig final at the Northern Meeting.
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Isle of Gigha

August 31, 2016 on 6:54 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Random Thoughts, Stories | Comments Off on Isle of Gigha

If you’re looking for a change of scenery and a fine place to recharge, look no farther than …
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Our Aunt Ethel

July 17, 2016 on 2:46 pm by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories | Comments Off on Our Aunt Ethel

IT’S estimated there are over seven billion people inhabiting our dear blue place — planet earth. That’s a seven and nine absolute zeros. To me, an unimaginable number of anything, let alone a measure of human souls. And yet, time and again, in the face of big numbers, we encounter a small world.

“It’s a small world — though I wouldn’t want to paint it,” said comedian Steven Wright. And there’s nothing like a looming, inestimable paint job to put something in perspective. Sure, we know the world is massive. I think it’s knowing this that has us easily imagining cosy comfort when some serendipitous happening meets our day. Like finding your neighbour is sister to your high school English teacher’s mum. “It’s surely a small world.” “Awww, we’re all connected,” you might groan. Or not.
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Vertiginous Pipe Bands

July 6, 2016 on 7:56 am by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands | Comments Off on Vertiginous Pipe Bands

When I was a kid and whiling away summer hours at the lake and stuck indoors-bound by rainstorms and whatever – and if memory serves me right, rain aside, it might be punishment for something; anyway, I’d reach for any old amusement that might while away those hours. Playing with matches was never on the list because that was allowed at the lake – oh, sweet happy days. But still, a summer place with no electricity (or plumbing) helped mark the bar pretty low when it came to entertainment. Or, high, depending on the cut of your Birkenstocks.
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Happy Canada Day – 5 Random Facts

July 1, 2016 on 7:14 am by Michael Grey | In Humour, News, Photographs | Comments Off on Happy Canada Day – 5 Random Facts

Today’s the day. And since we’re here, five random facts about Canada – it’s always five (it’s a blog):
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Halfway through 2016 and Reflecting

June 16, 2016 on 4:29 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, News, Photographs, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on Halfway through 2016 and Reflecting

I think it’s the early sunrise and especially bright eye-squinting mornings, just a little south of the 49th parallel, that reminded me today that we’re almost at the halfway point of 2016. Whoosh! That’s how time goes – and that’s how time flies. And so, as not to forget, and maybe omit something from what will surely turn out to be a mighty and interesting late-December 2016 summary, I thought I’d jot down a few personal highlights of the year that’s been so far. Not for you, of course, but for me! Me. Me. Me.

When thinking, in processing thoughts, just what makes a person think – of anything? What ignites a thought? A chance meeting with a new acquaintance or old friend? An email, a text, a dog’s bark, the weather, an online video, the news – the cat licking it’s arse – what random action or environmental thing triggers (and apologies in advance for using that word) a thought or thinking? And, again, in this case, thinking as reflection.
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Fishing the Good Fish

June 1, 2016 on 6:42 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Random Thoughts | Comments Off on Fishing the Good Fish

In my part of the world we’re just a little past the opening of fishing season for the “good fish”; that is, the fourth Saturday in April. That day triggers the good-to-go mark to land brown trout, speckled trout, brook trout and Atlantic salmon. Regrettably, I haven’t fished for anything – bagpipe prizes aside – in years. Fishing, I think, is a great pastime: it focuses a person’s thinking, yet relaxes; water flows, or, at least, is present (and how great is that) and daily stresses usually become less, even fall away.
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Piping Today: You’re the reason our kids are ugly

May 3, 2016 on 9:33 am by Michael Grey | In From Piping Today Mag, Humour, Music, Solo Piping | Comments Off on Piping Today: You’re the reason our kids are ugly

The highland bagpipe can create some of the most rhythmically amazing music imaginable. A well-practised set of mitts can rattle off near endless streams of reels, jigs, strathspeys and hornpipes.

Highland dancers would be lost if not struck dead still without a piper’s tunes. The undulating groove inherent in any good-going reel has the power to move even the most rigid and uncompromising of feet. Dancing can reveal all the mystery that music conceals, wrote French poet, Charles Baudelaire. And on that, like drum and stick, wind and waves, bed and breakfast, music and dance are inextricably linked.
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