10 Favourite Musical Memories of the Noughts

December 29, 2009 on 9:18 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories | Comments Off on 10 Favourite Musical Memories of the Noughts

Yikes. Its two days to 2010. Cliche alert: it seems like yesterday … we were all freaking out about the apocalyptic possibilities of a new millennium. Then, as now, I was working in the technology field and clearly recall being assigned a “war room” shift. For those not familiar with the tech business staple of system recovery, the “war room” is a small group of multi-skilled people charged with restarting failed computer systems. I was the scribe of the group (an important role, of course). With black marker at the ready I was set to record the crashing systems and falling sky.

Happily, my shift didn’t start until the afternoon of January 2, 2000, so I was good to go and enjoy the passing of the millennium as I pleased. And my choice happens to kick off my list of memorable musical moments of the “naughts”: 2000 through to two days from now:

And my list in rough chronological order (note: these spring first to mind and I wouldn’t be surprised, if I tried again, the list might be slightly different):

10. New Year’s Eve 1999. James and Jan MacDonald host one of Vancouver’s most famous Hogmanay doos. The hoi polloi of Vancouver’s piping and drumming community all find their way to the MacDonalds. This special year I managed to snag an invite and subsequently flew five hours west to be part of the fun. What hosts. What fun. A remarkable midnight marchpast of our throw-together pipe band with members including Pete Aumonier, Jack Lee and Angus MacPherson will never be forgotten. Good people; good times. [by the way, for fans of the movie “Whisky Galore“, James MacDonald is the wee baby in the carriage in the scene where his dad, Neil Angus, plays at the réiteach].

9. Recording Shambolica! and Jane Siberry, July 2001. I was awfully lucky to engage a pile of talented people to work with me on Shambolica! and one of my all-time favourites was among that group. There’s something about Jane Siberry’s voice that moves me. She’s a national treasure – or, more rightly, an international treasure. She jammed her eclectic backside in Bryan Greenwood’s studio’s sound booth and for six straight hours made amazing music. Her work on “Nut Brown Maiden” is electric.

8. Bruce Gandy’s Gold Medal-winning performance, Northern Meeting, Inverness, September 2003. Bruce and me go back a long way and while we’ve always been intense competitors (especially with each other) I was thrilled to be there for his winning tune. One of those performances that fires on all cylindars and can’t help but win. “The Rout of Glenfruin” was the tune, for the record – a tune that should be played more, I think.

7. Colin MacLellan’s Clasp tune, “End of the Little Bridge”, at the Northern Meeting, Inverness, September 2003/4 [Colin, nor I, sure of the date]. What a tune. This tune was edge-of-your seat stuff. Tempo, rhythm, drama, all falling together in one rare and fabulous explosion of pibroch playing. People who hate pibroch should’ve heard this tune.

6. Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band tuning up for the World Pipe Band Championship, Glasgow, 2007. FMM are the poster people for precision and musical intention. Listening to them prepare for their world-winning performance: an indelible memory.

5. A week in Glasgow with the 78th Frasers (Halifax Citadel) Pipe Band, 2007. As a traveller to Glasgow for piping and pipe band events the 2007 trip with the Halifax Frasers, a great band I “guested” with, will be hard to forget. I can’t speak for any other time but in August 2007 this band had magnetic and percolating pipe band chemistry. What a great time. Win or lose, this was a great adventure with great people – one that sustained the whole week’s visit.

4. Toronto Police Pipe Band playing off the field at the North American Pipe Band Championships in Maxville, Ontario, August 2008. The park had been beset by hurricane-like rain and the usual (fantastic) performance spot had been moved to a farmer’s field – or what felt like a farmer’s field. The crowds were right up yer backside and well in to their rain-delayed cups. This was the year of “Variations on a Theme of Good Intentions” and marching off with Padrig Sicard’s Breton march will never be forgotten.

3. Ruth Sutherland’s singing of, “Tuireadh Mhic Criomain”, at Scott MacAulay’s memorial gathering, November 2008.

2. The Toronto Police Pipe Band’s playing of “His Father’s Lament for Donald MacKenzie” in the car park of Lycée Des Métiers Marie Le Franc in Lorient, France, August 2009. A strange moment. No one around. Our band manager, Jack Wield, ex-Edinburgh Police Pipe Band, thought the same. He said, “My God, that was beautiful”. Goose-bumpy.

1. OK. This isn’t in order. And, its not a bagpipe-y sort of thing. But a bit of a confessional: One of the most memorable musical moments for me may not’ve been in the bagpipey world. Here is k d lang:

All the best!


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