Book Release Video! (with notes)

August 26, 2021 on 4:59 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Video | No Comments

Thanks to all who managed to tune in Facebook to the kick-off of the publication of my book, “Grey’s Notes on a life around Bagpipes”! Even as a (sadly) virtual part of this year’s Piping Live! festival in Glasgow it turned out to be fun to put together – and – I hope time well-spent for viewers.

The program is still available. Here you go:
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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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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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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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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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Canntaireachd & The Prince’s Salute

October 4, 2015 on 3:06 pm by Michael Grey | In Music, Solo Piping, Video | Comments Off on Canntaireachd & The Prince’s Salute

I was given the opportunity yesterday to lead four sessions at the annual Fall Fusion workshop. A great event staged each year by the management of the Paris Port Dover Pipe Band (special call-out to Darlene Carreiro here). With well over 100 participants the day, if nothing else, was jam-packed with boundless enthusiasm. And, oh, to bottle “boundless enthusiasm”, a fortune would be made.
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Cowal Games 1929

March 15, 2015 on 7:07 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips, Video | Comments Off on Cowal Games 1929

Say what you like, but I’ve always liked Cowal Games. Of those I recall, my memories are nothing but the happiest – or – at least – really good. OK. Not always, “really good”, but memorable. Yes. Memorable. Well, mostly memorable, but usually fun. Cowal, as much, if not more, than other contests, has given me some stuff to remember. I’ve socked it all away and stand today with a good few stories to regale the unsuspecting at the drop of a hat. Cowal Games: you rock.
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Glasgow 1901

February 26, 2015 on 8:43 pm by Michael Grey | In Photographs, Stories, Video | 2 Comments

A sort of random posting here: a really interesting video clip filmed in April of 1901 of Jamaica Street, Glasgow. An old street name, even for Glasgow, the thoroughfare, or, at least, the street named Jamaica, opened in the late 18th century and was apparently named for the then raging rum and sugar trade.
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Rare Photo and Video: G S McLennan

October 29, 2014 on 6:02 pm by Michael Grey | In Delightful Data of the Day, Music, News, Photographs, Solo Piping, Stories, Video | 1 Comment

Back in June I wrote a little about the recently posted Pathé film footage of the great Highland dancer, Mary Aitken. Among many other good things, she was the namesake for a fine bagpipe tune, the jig “Mary Aitken”.
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Mary Aitken

June 16, 2014 on 6:21 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Random Thoughts, Video | Comments Off on Mary Aitken

One of my favourite two-parted jigs is that named, “Mary Aitken”. It’s a tricky little finger challenge first published in 1936 in John Wilson’s outstanding first book of music. Written by Malcolm R MacPherson (son of “Mrs MacPherson of Inveran” and Angus), a piper more famous for his playing than his composing, the tune is named for a champion Highland dancer of the day: Mary Aitken of Aberdeen.
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