Thursday, April 14, 2011


A Busy Month and a Little Dance

Well, rather than try to summarize my musical career since my last major post, I'll just summarize the last month and pick up from there.

And it's been a busy month. on March 20, I hosted the March Fiddle Club meeting at my house, which featured some great tunes from a little-known composer (and from his publisher too), a fun jam, and my venison stew. The very next week was the annual Fiddle Club dance, which had good turnout from musicians and dancers, though not quite at last year's levels; and once again I got to lead the band, this time for the final three sets, and we were featured in a local newspaper!

Then April 2 rolled around, and we had the National Tartan Day festival in Old Town Alexandria. This promised to be a great event, with lots of vendors and public, though it was light on the musical acts because of conflicts - we had no Highland Dancers and only four Scottish Country Dancers, and only one Celtic band, my very own Devil's Tailors; and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums came out to give us some great tunes too. Alas, the weather was also very Scottish, and the festival was hammered by several rainstorms between bouts of lovely weather. Still it was a lot of fun, and we repaired to Pat Troy's for drinks afterward.

The next Sunday was another Fiddle Club meeting in DC, scheduled a week early. This time we talked about Fairy and Trowie tunes, and a slow jam (which the regular jammers eventually joined).

On Wednesday, April 6, I attended the National Tartan Day reception at the Capitol Visitors Center, playing for the St. Andrew's Society, National Tartan Day Committee, and several members of the British Embassy and the US Congress; with Minority Leader Pelosi and Speaker Boehner dropping by to say a few words.

Last weekend, I spent Saturday afternoon at the Carlyle House; they were reenacting the 1755 meeting of the colonial governors with General Braddock to begin the Seven Years/French and Indian War, and I turned out as an 18th century piper to play a few period tunes to lure people to the event. And Sunday was our Royal Mile jam - a light turnout, but great fun nonetheless.

Last night, I returned to the Durant Center to play for the dance after the Annual General Meeting of the NoVA RSCDS. The dancers were more experienced than usual, so there was less instruction and more dancing - they made us earn our pay! But it was great fun.

Some things coming down the pipeline include a website update/redesign. I'll be cleaning up the pages, updating where I need to, adding info, and changing the background tiles to make things more legible. I'll also try to create more event galleries, as I've piled a few up over the years.

In the slightly more distant future, I'll have some fun new instruments featured - I'm on the cusp of ordering a gaita grillera (a Spanish bagpipe in D), an instrument very similar to the great pipe from the Scottish lowlands, which went extinct around 1700. It'll be great for songs in D and G, especially Maggie Lauder (and is likely the kind of pipe the narrator of the song played). EJ Jones is going to create a new bag and stocks so I can plug it into a bellows, which is how it was played in the latter days of the 17th century before giving way to the smallpipe and border pipe.

My repertoire page will likely change a lot too, to reflect some of my favorite pipe and fiddle tunes, and songs, especially those not played by the Devil's Tailors!

Also, hopefully I'll be getting some more gear for reenacting, like a shirt, coat, and waistcoat, and I'll document making those. I might also start working on a suit of woman's clothing for my girlfriend, whom I'm trying to recruit into the Appins.

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