Dew drops debut album / One piper’s adventures in becoming an Army piper

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Scottish piper, John Dew, releases his first album next Friday (27th). Mackerel Sky is mainy self-composed and includes one piece of ceòl mòr (The Marquis of Argyll’s Salute, the tune Dew played at 2019 Royal National Mòd where he was the overall winner).

The album was recorded during the spring of this year and follows on from his 2020 EP The High Bridge Walk.

Dew said: “The inspiration behind the album was the idea of layering multiple bagpipes and whistle parts and exploring the concept of polyphony underneath traditional and neo-traditional tunes. My main inspiration for the title track was the mackerel sky clouds in Scotland – the tune depicts the build-up of the layering of the clouds and then the rainfall. This sort of tension and release was something I wanted to mimic in the music of the album through polyphonic textures – though there are a few simple tune sets as well. I love polyphony and harmony and wanted to explore writing in that style for bagpipes.”

John Dew.

The album also features Dylan Cairns on guitar and Eoghainn Beaton on bodhrán. Dew [pictured], who is a member of Inveraray & District Pipe Band, graduated from Scotland’s Royal Conservatoire of Scotland last year.

Mackerel Sky will be available to buy on CD, stream and download on all digital platforms, on Friday, August 27. For more information and to pre-order visit John’s website.

John will be performing tracks from the album at The Crieff Folk Club on Wednesday, November 24.

• Bagpipe.News will carry a review of the album in due course.


Ayrshire piper, Hector Thomson, has published a biography of his adventures in fulfilling his dream of becoming a piper in the Scots Guards.

Hector of the Glens takes the reader on a colourful and sometimes riotous journey from his childhood to joining the army aged 16 and becoming a piper. Hector says his book is, “A tartan rollercoaster of typing errors and the perfect cure for insomnia.” Bagpipe.News has had a quick skim through the book and can vouch that it is much more than that. It is a great read. The book begins with a humorous account of how Hector became interested in learning to play the pipes, aged seven and goes on to provide a humorous insight into the rich culture of Scottish and military piping. It is very funny and, at times, quite poignant.

Hector, who competes in the National Piping Centre’s CLASP, says the book is the first in what he hopes will be a trilogy.

Hector of the Glens can be purchased, priced £12.50 plus shipping from Amazon and a Kindle edition is available at £7.20. Hector tells us an audiobook is in the, er, pipeline.

  • A free signed and dedicated copy of Hector’s book goes to the sender of the daftest photo of someone reading his book. Send your photo to us in the first instance. The photo will be included on Hector’ ‘rogues gallery’:
Some photos from Hector’s ‘rogue’s gallery’.