- Where are you from and how did you get into piping?
I’m from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia residing on Caribou Island, Nova Scotia. I started with the local Army Cadet Corps 219 under Captain Donald Carrigan’s instruction then continued with the Nova Scotia Highlanders then the Clan Thompson Pipe Band then Halifax Police (Grade 3 and Grade 1). I played with a Celtic rock band called Mackeel for a few years then I went back to pipe bands and played with Dartmouth and District. I took 18 years away from playing due to my career and every other excuse I could come up with. I restarted again a few years ago and then started lessons again and competing.
- How has the pandemic affected your piping personally?
The pandemic has its good and bad for my playing. I’m employed as a Dynamic Positioning Operator/Ship’s Navigational Officer off the west coast of Africa. When I travel to work, I have to undergo a minimum ten-day quarantine (down from two-four weeks, I’m actually in quarantine now) then my work rotation is six weeks on the ship, four weeks home. I can’t bring my pipes with me to the ship so no matter how much I work on practice chanter before I return home, I still have to start from scratch in getting my dead pipes back into shape and getting my body in shape as well. The extra time on practice chanter when in quarantine has been great. The online competitions have also been great. To be able to compete against others within the same grading but players from around the world instead of just the local players is amazing. We need to continue this aspect of competition after the pandemic has passed.
- Is there anything you can’t leave home without?
My backpack with laptop, certificates of competency, licenses, practice chanter and music books. The Smart phone, too.
- What’s your favourite international food?
- What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten
A giraffe burger in Hoedspurit, South Africa.
- When you travel is there something you particularly miss when away?
Being with my family.
- Do you have a set practice routine you could share with readers?
I’ve recently developed something that’s started to work for me: exercises over and over while warming up, then on to the tunes. A relaxed grip on the chanter; no tension in fingers and forearms. I wasn’t taught that when I was young.
- What’s your most memorable performance you’ve taken part in, either band or solo?
Playing for the G7 leaders in Halifax in the 1990s.
- What’s your most memorable performance you’ve heard – band or soloist?
Live in Ireland and Allan MacDonald’s Cill Chrisod.
- Who has been the biggest influence on your piping?
I have had many over the years. Since starting to play again three years ago, I have had influence from Andy Rogers, Bruce Gandy and John Walsh.
- How do you relax and do you have other interests or hobbies?
When at work, practice chanter. At home, family time, social gatherings, outdoor life, music and BBQ. Maybe the odd bucket of chicken.
- Have you taken part in any show, concerts or recitals this year?
- What’s your favourite destination, either for a holiday or on a piping trip?
Caribou Island. I live where I want to vacation.
- Do you have a go at the local language when abroad?
- Favourite piece of music – any music?
Cherede Darieva and The Little Cascade. These are two brilliant compositions.
- Was piping something you wanted to do from an early age?
Was there a choice?
- Which pipers did you aspire to, if any?
When I was younger it was Dr Angus, MacDonald John Walsh, Bruce Gandy and Bill Livingstone. I still dream big and listen to the best players of today and of the years past. There are so many great recordings available today that just weren’t available when I was younger so my list is huge now.
- Do you recall the very first competition you competed in?
- Favourite piobaireachd?
It’s very difficult for me to pick just one right now as I’m relatively new this genre. Since I started playing again in 2018 and taking some instruction in piobaireachd, I’ve been listening to more and more of it so it really depends on the month or the latest discovery that I’d not heard previously.
- Any humorous piping anecdote you can relate to the readers (keep it clean!)?
There are way too many to mention. What I can say is some of my greatest memories are of times spent with pipers and pipe bands from my early days as a cadet to the present day.
* Thank you, Dane!