S.C.U.P.C. Meeting, January 10th 2010: The new year meeting of the Southern Califfornia Uilleann Pipers Club was high-lighted by the arrival of Fel Bautista's new concert pitched set in acid stained boxwood brass & faux ivory by Michael Hubbert. We all brought them for a spin and concluded they are a very, very fine set of pipes!
S.C.U.P.C. Meeting, April 11th 2010: A nice gathering yesterday. Everyone was in great form and we rambled through a rake of tunes. Some new faces which was excellent to see! Ryan Ramirez and Ken Matley, welcome guys!
Popped along to the Great Northern Irish Pipers Club Tionól 2010. Great - craic - was - had! As usual Larry Dunn wrote a report on it for The Pipers' Review.

“Down by the River to Play” by Larry Dunn
Great Northern Irish Pipers’ Club Tionól, May 15-16, 2010. St. Paul Minnesota.
I’ve been attending the Great Northern Irish Pipers Club Tionól on a regular basis for the last several years, usually taking a direct flight from LAX-MSP. This year I thought I would be clever and use frequent flyer miles, even though it would require a lay-over along the way. I reached the airport nice and early, settling in at the gate with a good book only to hear: “Attention passengers, American Airlines flight number 2428 to Dallas-Fort Worth has been cancelled.” Thus began this year’s adventure, which involved lots of running from gate to gate, being put on stand-by for a succession of flights, eventually snagging a seat on a flight to Chicago. I just managed to get to Minneapolis after a multi-terminal sprint through O’Hare to catch the only flight for the next three hours— it was a harrowing experience altogether.

I landed at MSP Airport hungry, thirsty, tired and disheveled about four hours later than scheduled. Adele Binning (Tom Klein’s better half) promptly arrived with a care package of Kurdish delicacies and whisked me away to the Friday night party, which was in full progress. Most of this year’s tionól (including the Friday’s festivities) took place at the Covington Inn, a turn -of-the-century Mississippi tow boat that has been converted to a bed and breakfast. The inn, a magnificent assembly of wood and brass, is moored right on the river, with a spectacular view of downtown St. Paul. I was fortunate enough to book a room on the boat, which made for a very pleasant as well as convenient stay.

Saturday was a stunningly gorgeous spring day on the river, complete with a serenade by a panoply of migratory song birds. Liz, the Covington Inn’s skipper, whipped up a delightful breakfast for those in residence. The tionól then began in earnest, with guest instructors Ivan Goff and Skip Cleavinger each teaching workshops while Joseph Smith and David Boisvert set up a reed and repair station out on the lower deck. A quick break for lunch was followed by another round of workshops in the afternoon.

The Saturday evening concert took place in the all-new Titanic Lounge at the recently-relocated Kieran’s Pub in Minneapolis. With the irrepressible Edmund Tunney as Master of Ceremonies, the evening kicked-off with local legend Ton Dahill accompanied by a concertina player. The concert continued with guitarist Daithi Sproule and included Laura MacKenzie on several types of bagpipes. There were pipe and fiddle duets from Pat and Karen Cannady as well as Nicolas Brown and Nathan Gourley, with solo piping from Pat D’Arcy, Skip Cleavinger and Ivan Goff, mingled with the sean nós dancing of Danielle Enblom and Anna Lethert. Patrick Coles’ adorable daughters Cecilia and Nora also joined in for a few steps—delightful! The pipers joined forces for a grand finale and a splendid time was had by all. The taps at Kieran’s continued to flow freely for sometime after concert. They finally booted us out when Tunney and I refused to stop signing. Somehow, several of us arrived at Mickey’s Diner for a late night/early morning breakfast, where I learned the secret to the perfect omelet, an egg-to-butter ratio of 1:1 (by volume, of course) and bacon… lots of bacon.

Sunday included another round of workshops followed by a very interesting presentation by Skip titled “Uilleann Pipes for Highland Pipers.” There are rumors of a mighty session at Keegan’s Pub on Sunday evening, but I was lucky enough to stay on the boat for an impromptu session on flat pipes (in C) with Ivan and Skip—magical! Many thanks to Adele Binning, Tom Klein, and all the GNIPC crew (I believe they are all named “Patrick”) for their hard work and kind hospitality; to Ivan Goff and Skip Cleavinger for their excellent instruction and generous spirit; to Joseph Smith and David Boisvert for manning the reed and repair station, and to Liz and crew on the Covington Inn. It was a brilliant weekend and I’m already looking forward to next year!
S.C.U.P.C. Meeting, August 8th 2010: The lads assembled in an orderly fashion yesterday. Nice day. We set up in the garage and played 'til we could stands no more. Notes ricocheted off the walls until it was time for home. Michael O'Donovan gave Tim Drake a hand with a bold baritone regulator reed that obviously hadn't read the regulations! All better now. Sam Moehring from Berkeley visited us with his new Michael Hubbert half set.
I just saw a photo of a set of pipes I've heard much about but have never seen. It was in the Seattle Pipers Club publication "The Pipers Review" in an article by Damian Werner chronicling the Johnny Doran Tionól held in Spanish Point, County Clare on April 23-25. Damien says "On exhibition at the Saturday night concert was a set of pipes so unique and magnificent that they deserve special mention. This full set was commissioned and built for the late Felix Doran in the 1960’s. They are entirely composed of metal and dipped in silver. There is no timber to be found in any of the components, including the chanter, on this rare and virtually priceless set of historical pipes. They were the object of much curiosity and conversation throughout the event." It's great to see them, thanks Damien!
S.C.U.P.C. Meeting, September 12th 2010: Chadd Ferron, Mike de Smidt, Ben Jaber, Larry Dunn and I think that's the back of Michael O'Donovan's head there too? Yesterday at the S.C.U.P.C. meeting.
The Southern California Tionol went very well this year. Thanks to our guests, hosts and attendees alike!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of playing a concert with modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty at The Grand Ole Opry as special guests of bluegrass mandolin legend Ricky Skaggs. Here are a few of photos from the evening. It was a great experience. Playing tunes with other guests backstage was great fun and looking accross stage at Ricky Skaggs smiling back at me was a thrill that won't soon be forgotten. Apparently I am only the second uilleann piper to play The Grand Ole Opry. Paddy Moloney beat me to it! Good company to be in on all fronts.

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