Saturday, December 14, 2002

Christmas Gigs

I played at a Christmas party last Thursday for a group of retired academics. The request was from an old friend so the remuneration was only nominal. But the company and the lunch were excellent. I played for a bit before lunch and afterward gave my 50¢ lecture on the history of the pipes. (It would have been a touch more coherent if I’d known beforehand that they wanted that.) Fortunately, I like talking about the pipes almost as much as playing them. And then a few more tunes to end.

In the evening the Scottish country dancing group to which my wife and I belong had its Christmas ceilidh. It seems to be the last of the genuine ceilidhs around. So many events are still called a ceilidh but they have all the spontaneity programmed out of them. A ceilidh is supposed to be a party with do-it-yourself entertainment. The people attending do their party pieces, whether it’s singing or reciting their favourite poetry (Bill has a great Robert W. Service repertoire) or a good joke. We had all of that and some fiddling, some piano, and a bit of the pipes. And dancing, ending the evening with Rob Roy, an absolute cracker of a jig.

And finally today the band ended our 2002 performance season playing for a few hours this afternoon at the Valencia Mall. A mall, by the way, is an excellent venue for a pipe band. Much better than a parade: there’s a controlled climate (no 98 degree heat, no rain, no freezing wind), the route is level (no steep hills, no speed bumps, no pot holes), the acoustics are good, the crowds are friendly and in a good mood, and we don’t even have to worry about whether we’re following any horses. We had a good turnout with 14 pipes showing up, and I think, half a dozen drums giving us a nice, full sound. The only drawback with so many of the newer folks in the circle, is that the repertoire of tunes we all know was a bit reduced. On the whole, though, a good performance and good fun.