Why is Larry so happy? Click here to find out! ::: more»

Now, hold on to your knee britches there folks! 2009 has begun in fine style with a postcard image from famed Oakland (nee Deansgrange) piper Peter Heelan. He found the item on Ebay. It has "John Carey" and "An Irish Piper" printed onthe front. It belongs to a set of three, he tells me. If anyone has the third I'd love to have a look at it. Peter's is the first one in the queue.
From the frozen pipemaker Joe Kennedy: "Applewood C set built for Ross Anderson 2003 regs added last summer. Photo was taken in my back garden. It was lovely and warm now its full of snow." Joe
West Coast Tionól 2009, San Francisco

ROAD TRIP! Larry Dunn, Joe Abarta and myself took the 101 north last Friday, past the "Mountain Groves" which happened to be covered in snow at the time. Luckily we missed the bad weather and made it to Peter Heelan's (after much driving and seeking advice) for the Friday night shindig before everyone had run out of tunes ;) It was great to see everyone so well and in such great form, all excited about the weekend ahead. This years guest was the immensely talented and thoughtful Emmett Gill. He was firmly rooted in the living room at Peter & Sabra's when we arrived so we headed out the back in search of refreshment after our long and weather beaten drive. A local hoppy elixer was produced and a small room off the back of the dining room emitted ( Emmetted ;) some lovely sounds which I saw were coming from a gorgeous set made for Bob Wilson pitched in B which was made by Michael Hubbert and being played by the bauld Emmett. We tried to hold off on the hello's long enough to listen a bit. It reminded me of the year Mick O'Brien was out, he played someones new set in that room that year too. Looking back though the site I see it was my frst tionol, the one in 1997.... madness! Anyway, the pipes sounded great as did Emmett playing them. We were then instructed by the man of the house to set up shop in the kitchen and so, being timid and meed, we obeyed like good little guests. We were there in that kitchen for a good few hours playing tunes with the odd song calming the hollers and stamping feet and raising a political eyebrow or two. Peter even managed to coerce us to break out into Sardinian song harmonies briefly... I'm not sure what exactly we were up to but I can tell you it was brilliant fun and for a second there it actually sounded like we knew what we were up to :) Larry drove us ably over the Oakland bridge to the city and to the lovely abode of Dr. Lewis Blevins. Lewis was kind enough to agree to putting up with us us up for the weekend which always helps make things easier on the wallet and we greatly appreciate it Lewis! Unfortunately Lewis had left the party before we arrived and was home curled up in his bed by the time we came a knock, knock, knocking. He answered the door with a smile and we had a nice chat before we all decided tomorrow would be another day.

Saturday morning kicked off very nicely with a leisurely stroll from Lewis' house to a very fine Noe Valley establishment named "Eat Toast" I beleive... so we did! Very full and content we strolled back to the house to gather our gear and head over the bridge again, this time in Lewis' very desireable and jealousy inducing Porsche Boxster, to the home of Cathy Chilcott, our gracious hostess for the weekend. She has hosted the San Francisco Tionól three times now, a great deed that is greatly appreciated by us out of towners as we don't have to find our way around unfamiliar streets at all hours of the day and night, thanks for that Cathy. I sat in on Emmett's class in which he taught a jig and a hornpipe. Both gorgeous and unusual tunes, just what we know Emmett to be great with. Lunch was donated by the good Dr. Blevins on this day and was some of THE best pizza I've ever had,.... since my last trip to San Francisco... or Chicago (I have connections there you know... can't be upsetting them!) that is :-D

The Saturday evening concert was observed by a well behaved attentative audience. The show began with Joey Abarta playing a nice set which included a generous lash of slides and polka's. Joey's wonderful rhythm abounded and set the scene for a good night's music. Emmett took the stage next and played a great selection of tunes he has re-discovered for us all to enjoy. He was joined by Aoife from Donegal for the last few tunes. When they were finished and encores had been played Sean Folsom hopped up and asked if we wanted more! Being a room full of pipers I believe he already knew the answer. He asked Hungarian piper Tobak Ferenc and his girlfriend, a tamburitza player, to play a tune. The so did and whilst tuning outside Sean told us tales of Seamus Ennis... the gist of which escapes me now. A very enjoyable evenings music. After much chat and slaggery we retired to various cubby holes in the house for our own round of tunes and solializing.

Sunday was spent hanging around the main room looking at and playing old sets that John Pederson had brought along. Also a considerable time was spent playing sets in B made by California pipemaker Michael Hubbert. Wonderful pipes! Then it was back on the road again far too soon! I vote for a week long event next year... being a piper..... I wanted MORE! ;)

Thanks to Seán Folsom for sending me details about Tobak Ferenc and his music. Thanks also to Fel Bautista for allowing me to host his great photos of the weekend here. Thanks mostly to Larry for driving.

Michael Hubbert's Photos

Fel Bautista's Photos

Ellie Mae was into flat sets.... who knew?

Jonathan Parker of San Diego brought this book to my attention "Some Reminiscences & The Bagpipe (1907)" by Alexander Duncan Fraser. Found online at the Internet Archive. Here it is to download PDF 21M.

Kevin Rietman pointed out that "Ferguson's Egan set is on pg. 376 of the PDF (252 in the book), with this description:
Quote: "The large set, with no fewer than twenty-seven keys on it, is said to have been a presentation by late Queen Victoria to one Ferguson, a blind piper, who played in and out of the large hotels in Dublin in the early part of last century. Such a Pipe would cost anything from ;^30 to ;^5o and upwards, and it came to be known as the Irish Organ. When played on as an organ, the chanter was put out of use by having the neck of the bag twisted tightly, and the piper devoted both hands to the keys of the regulators."

Kevin also brought up this on the C&F. Etching's of an uilleann piper featured in "Glen's Collection For The Great Highland Bagpipe (1900)" by John Glen & Robert Glen. Found at the Internet Archive. View a PDF of the book PDF 2.3M. I wonder is this Glen any relation to the pipemaker of the same name?
Something was stirring in St. Paul at the tionól...
The Southern California Uilleann Pipers Club had their monthly meeting this past Sunday...

Congratulations to the bride and groom! Michael Cruite and his bride Irene got married in San Diego last night. Here are a couple of shots of him playing his O'Briein set for the last time. Thanks Michael Eskin for the photos.
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