Imagining Three Greats: Animating Ross, McLennan & MacDonald

March 6, 2021 on 1:30 pm by Michael Grey | In Audio File, Photographs, Solo Piping, Video | Comments Off on Imagining Three Greats: Animating Ross, McLennan & MacDonald

There’s a famous photo generally available online and everywhere (I suppose that’s redundant) of three of the most famous pipers of the twentieth century – if not all time. The photo is a post-WWI study of Pipe Major William “Willie” Ross, George S McLennan and John MacDonald (Inverness). You’ll likely know, MacDonald almost always gets an “Inverness” plugged on to his name due to the popularity, to this day, of the combination of given and surnames. Though, truth be told, he isn’t the only John MacDonald to ever call Inverness his home. But to pipers everywhere, when the name appears with the marker “(Inverness)” we know precisely the man mentioned: one of the greatest exponents of piobaireachd, one who left a great musical legacy thanks to a hugely impactful lifelong teaching effort.
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To confer importance: John Ban MacKenzie

December 31, 2020 on 2:01 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Random Thoughts, Stories | Comments Off on To confer importance: John Ban MacKenzie

Thanks to technology we’re all photographers. The mobile phone-cum-camera is everywhere. The late writer, Susan Sontag, famously wrote of the subject in her book On Photography (1977). I’ve talked about some of her ideas before but her cleverness stands repeating. She wrote that to photograph is to confer importance. I suppose importance is relative to the photographer and the person that observes the photographed subject. Your pic of your take-away boxed lunch of chicken tikka, pilau rice and Gulab Jamun is likely to mean much more to you than me. But, still, to be fair, a tasty lunch of colourful Indian treats has, for a time, an importance of sorts to any photographer and so there’s a ring – or, maybe, tinkle – of truth to Sontag’s words.
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An ardent epitaph

September 24, 2020 on 7:57 am by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories, Tips | Comments Off on An ardent epitaph

I was recently part of a very small group of people who were lucky to have a private expert tour of a few choice corners of Bruce County, Ontario. Bruce County is Ontario’s largest county and – as the name might suggest – magnetic for many of the settlers of The Clearances – and even later. With verdant, rich arable land (well, after newcomers found their way to fell the massive trees, haul the stumps and clear the stones) the county is full of echoes of Scots and Irish immigration. Continue reading An ardent epitaph…

A Line Up of Knees

October 10, 2019 on 7:08 am by Michael Grey | In Humour, Photographs | Comments Off on A Line Up of Knees

I was talking to John Walsh the other evening and learned – among other things – he had one brand new knee. It was last week in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia when his plastic patella was, er, planted. Like so many procedures of this kind there’s no shortage of discomfort in recovery.
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Ronnie Rollo: Folk Artist

February 13, 2019 on 8:05 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Random Thoughts, Stories | Comments Off on Ronnie Rollo: Folk Artist

In a recent mid-winter clear-out of my house I found myself with a little extra wall-space. I also found a few things I’d forgotten. Anyone who knows me knows that walls were made for one thing: to hang stuff. When I was younger I used to move a lot. And here’s a Top Tip for the itinerant: I found that the fastest way to make a place feel like home is to nail to the wall a favourite photo, picture or poster (even before all boxes are unpacked). I say “nail”, I mean hang, as in hung. A well-hung picture makes any strange new place instantly more familiar.
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Performance Options

December 12, 2018 on 7:39 am by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on Performance Options

A frequent topic of conversation in some pipe band, em, circles relates to performance options. For instance, is the three-pace roll start and march to centre field (where the band moves to centre stage and curtly turns their collective back to the audience) the best we can do? Except for the most change-averse, most interested in such things, I think, say a big “no”.
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“Let me take your picture”

November 30, 2017 on 7:14 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Stories | Comments Off on “Let me take your picture”

Here’s a classic example of one of those forced picture-taking moments (FPTMs). It’s not often anything good comes of it (see exhibit A below). Here, with my eldest sister, Jane (Campbell) is the 17 year-old me in my 48th Highlanders of Canada number ones (minus feather bonnet but still, with impressive head of hair, I must say … in those days it was always said to the barber, “just thin it out”).
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Photo Intensity: Glasgow Police Pipe Band

May 31, 2017 on 6:42 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on Photo Intensity: Glasgow Police Pipe Band

It’s the last few remaining hours of the month of May and I’m feeling it’s a good time to post a positive highlight of the month – or my month – that was …
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From GS’s Scrapbook: A Highland Dancer: “One of the finest I have ever … seen”

March 30, 2017 on 5:17 pm by Michael Grey | In Delightful Data of the Day, Photographs, Stories | Comments Off on From GS’s Scrapbook: A Highland Dancer: “One of the finest I have ever … seen”

Here’s another interesting look into one man’s personal book of record, the scrap book of one of the greatest pipers in history: George Stewart McLennan of Aberdeen. Again, as before, the clipping provided here is courtesy of his grandson, Hamish.
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Backstory and Reflections: Live in Ireland 87 Project

March 3, 2017 on 5:14 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Stories | Comments Off on Backstory and Reflections: Live in Ireland 87 Project

Writing a blog has to be the ultimate in vanity exercises, or “vanity projects”, as is usually said when referring to almost anything a person undertakes that requires a healthy ego. We flatter ourselves imagining – or blindly assuming – that people are gagging to get a dose of our words and unsolicited opinion. I invite you (surely countless readers) to consider otherwise. But I do believe this to be true. A blogger rides the pud-puller that is the web log – the blog (come to think of it, Facebook musings are much the same).

It seems to me, too, that the blog can be that and something more. It can be this and that: in my words here, I try to also use this self-made forum as a record of stuff that happens to and around me. I guess you’d call that a diary. Yeah, that’s it; a diary. I’m not as a faithful a diarist as I’d like but when I look back on the last ten years of my dunaber blog I’m reminded of people, events and opinions changed and retained. So, in looking back, I’m happy I kept a little record of one part of my life.

With this in mind I want to provide a little context and reflect briefly on the “Live in Ireland 87” project, so in future years I’ll recollect and today you’ll know a little of the background of the thing.
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