Monday, January 17, 2005

Gie us a Haggis!

Last Saturday night I played for a rather early celebration (about 10 days early) of Robert Burns' birthday put on as a combined effort of the San Gabriel Valley and Orange County branches of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (a.k.a. the "RSCDS"). It was an outstanding evening: good food (yes, even the haggis), good company. . . and what music. The dance musicians were Calum MacKinnon and Lisa Scott. They were unbelieveably good. My right foot is still a bit wonky so I only did three dances but their lift and drive made every step easy. If you ever have the chance to dance to their music don't miss it.

Calum made a recording a couple of years ago with Muriel Johnstone which can be ordered from his website here. Highly recommended for any who love traditional Scottish fiddling. (There are clips on the site which can be downloaded for a sample, although I wasn't successful in doing that tonight. Admittedly, I didn't try very hard as I have the cd already.)

ADDENDUM: What do I mean when I say I "played" for a dance but other musicians were the dance musicians? Typically, the piper for a Burns Supper pipes a procession in to the dining room consisting of the haggis bearer(s), a brace of swordsmen guarding the said pudding, the orator who will recite the toast to the haggis, and a maid bearing the dram(s) with which to perfect the toast. And then they're piped out again. I also play for a half hour or so before the evening's festivities. And finally I play for the "Grand March" properly so called which leads the dancers into the assembly room for the dance. This last can be anything for a 3 minute toot to (at least once) a 15 minute ordeal depending upon the circumstances. Last Saturday was closer to the 3 minute stroll. Occasionally an SCD group will have a piper play for "The Reel of the 51st Highland Division" or "The Reel of the Royal Scots" but not this time.