Music copyright: Glen v. Henderson

March 31, 2021 on 7:27 am by Michael Grey | In Stories | Comments Off on Music copyright: Glen v. Henderson

I don’t know if musicians end up in courts of law any more than other occupations. I do know that when they find themselves on the wrong side of a judge it’s more likely due to copyright infringement than serial murder. Just a hunch. I also know that if they’re famous musicians their cases get lots of press.
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Bill Livingstone on Lament for Mary MacLeod and Ceol Mor (generally)

February 24, 2021 on 10:56 am by Michael Grey | In Solo Piping, Stories, Video | Comments Off on Bill Livingstone on Lament for Mary MacLeod and Ceol Mor (generally)

I’ve known Bill Livingstone since I first met him as a young feller attending The Seaway School of Piping in 1981 where Bill was an instructor. The school was held each July centred in and around Ban Righ Hall of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. Colin MacLellan directed the school and his, dad, Captain John MacLellan, the school’s principal instructor. I recall this because, in part, the video presented here has Bill talking a little about his time there and a pithy – yet monumentally important – piobaireachd lesson Captain MacLellan offered Bill related to piobaireachd interpretation. You’ll have to watch the video to glean that secret (33’15”) and the many others mentioned connected to interpreting the big music of the Great Highland Bagpipe.
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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…

Video: Behind the Scenes: Glasgow Police Pipe Band’s Ceolry Concert

May 13, 2020 on 6:26 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Stories, Video | Comments Off on Video: Behind the Scenes: Glasgow Police Pipe Band’s Ceolry Concert

I’ve always wanted to play tunes in a bagad, that great combo of musical sounds found mostly in Brittany, France. Just after I had finished up my time with the Toronto Police Pipe Band (and the hugely fun “damned suites” period) I thought I’d have my chance. With the good consulting of my friend (and Breton), Yoann Le Goff, I was sure I was good-to-go. Allons-y!
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John Morrison of Assynt House

August 6, 2019 on 6:30 pm by Michael Grey | In Stories | Comments Off on John Morrison of Assynt House

I was talking to Glasgow piper, Craig Turnbull, a little while ago. He had been travelling in the Western Isles and the subject of the famous reel. “John Morrison of Assynt House” came up. Craig had passed by Assynt House in Stornoway. I always had it in my mind that Peter MacLeod, Senior, the composer of this reel – a piece of music that is without doubt, one of the greatest music compositions of all time – named it for a place in Ross-shire, north of Inverness (Scotland).

Our discussion ended with me committing to do a little research to find out what was what. Because. I was sure I was right.
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Tunes from John Wilson (1906 – 1979)

May 29, 2019 on 4:51 pm by Michael Grey | In Audio File, Solo Piping, Stories, Video | Comments Off on Tunes from John Wilson (1906 – 1979)

There aren’t a lot of easily available recordings of great players of the past – especially the long past. Here are a few samples from the great John Wilson. I no longer assume people know of him, or, for that matter, almost any of the greats of the not-so-distant-past.

John Wilson was born in Edinburgh. He came from a piping family, his Uncle John, for instance, was “The Baldooser” (how’s that for a nickname). You can find the jig named “The Baldooser” in Willie Ross’s first book. John Wilson took to the pipes very young and, even then, was a good player. His life changed forever when as a kid in Edinburgh he was playing on the beach with a detonator (as one did) and blew off big parts of his left hand. He always noted in the story’s telling that this happened the day before the Great War’s Armistice in 1918; the irony appealed to him, I’m sure.
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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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New Book: Young MacCrimmon and the Silver Chanter

December 17, 2018 on 10:29 am by Michael Grey | In Shout Outs!, Stories | Comments Off on New Book: Young MacCrimmon and the Silver Chanter

I picked up the new children’s book, Young MacCrimmon and the Silver Chanter as a Christmas present for a (lucky) kid on my list. It’s a rare book that doesn’t gift its reader some new insight or bit of knowledge. Written by Mick Broderick and Robert Wallace and illustrated by Norman Matheson, this children’s book didn’t fall short: I was reminded that the late Broderick stood as a great Scottish tradition bearer and found piper-solo-piping-judge, Matheson, to be an outstanding illustrator – and so, an artist beyond his piping.
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From Benbecula to Quebec (Documentary Interview)

November 8, 2018 on 5:11 pm by Michael Grey | In Audio File, Stories | Comments Off on From Benbecula to Quebec (Documentary Interview)

For a strong dose of wistful nostalgia its hard to beat listening to an audio recording of a long-gone – and much-loved – relative. Presented to you today is my grandmother – Grammy, to all of us – my dad’s mother: Margaret Teresa (MacBain) Grey. Thanks to the passionate and thoughtful field work of the late Ian Tait of Sherbrooke, Quebec the world has access to about 600 recordings of tradition-bearing residents of Quebec’s Eastern Townships. The full recording sits in the archives of Bishop’s University (Lennoxville, Quebec).
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