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In this newsletter you'll find the latest news and reports about all that's happening in the world of Celtic Piping in Australia and around the world.

An Evening with the 
Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson Trio

Report by Garret O'Kelly

On Friday 13th March the Celtic Piping Club hosted An Evening of Piping with The Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson (and Ali Hutton) Trio at the Celtic Club in Melbourne. What an evening!

It began a little before 6pm with Ali and Jarlath giving guitar and uilleann pipe workshops respectively on the 1st floor, while Ross and the border pipers headed up to the 2nd floor.

Smallpipe/Border pipe workshop with Ross

Guitar workshop with Ali

The uilleann pipers ranged from potential converts and beginners, to highland pipers getting familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the uilleann pipes, through to more practiced and confident players. We spent the workshop looking at O'Rourke's Reel keyed in A (there are recordings available if people are interested). Learning an unfamiliar tune by ear for the first time is pretty humbling, and a great reminder of how we take muscle-memory for granted on familiar tunes, but Jarlath was very attentive to each player’s level and what they needed help with, and made sure to engage everyone. He managed to progress each of us along in the tune even in just a single sitting. The only 'critique' was that the time passed too quickly! Reports from the other workshops were equally positive.

Uilleann pipe workshop with Jarlath

We broke at 7pm to eat. Credit to Geoff and Shona for having the foresight to order the food in advance (and for their organising generally) so that the Celtic Club were able to keep the whole thing moving smoothly.

Shortly after 8pm sound checks were finished, the crowd was in, and the lads’ gig got off to a bright start with an upbeat set based around The Old Bush & The Jolly Tinker.

One thing that quickly stood out for me was the good work by the sound engineer. Amplification can easily render the music over-loud, or lose one instrument behind another. I found this to be the case in the Ding Dong Lounge last November where the amps had to rise above a noisy crowd on a shared billing. The setup in the Celtic Club had all the instruments well balanced, and the music fully filling the room without blaring.

The first half of their set was a great mix of songs, whistle, and pipe tunes, both from their new Air-fix album, like Hiya Pal and Fred’s Advice, and trad tunes like Eavesdropper. It rounded off with a guest appearance from the superb Georgia Rose, a fiddler with a complimentary Scottish style that gave good counter-point to the pipes-rich sound that preceded.

After a short interval the second half got underway and very soon Ross picked up on the vibe that the crowd were enjoying the fast tunes, so they obliged. From there on the lads absolutely took off. The Trio went into a romping repertoire of meaty Irish, Scottish, Bulgarian, and Spanish tunes, with no quarter asked and none given. Cue 20 minutes of driving energy, braying hard Ds, big fat-bellied crans, and tight triplets machine-gunning across the room from those sweet, sweet, honking chanters.

Those sweet, sweet chanters!

The tunes came thick and fast. Every note hit the back of the room clear as a bell and had the crowd whooping and yelping like crazy. Whether your ear was tuned into the finer points of ornament and technique, or you were just a lay appreciator, everyone knew that we were listening to a standard of playing as good you'll ever hear. I had invited friends with me for the evening so they could hear how good Celtic piping can sound when it’s done right, and I was inwardly bursting with pride when the lads so well and truly delivered.

When the second half finished, Jarlath, Ali, and Ross came off duty for the night and everyone moved downstairs for an open session. It was our chance to do some sweet, sweet, honking of our own while they got to enjoy a pint and a chat and unwind. It was a super night. Well done to all involved.

[ED: The dots and audio for the two tunes learned in the workshops (
O'Rourke's Reel & The Wild Irishman) are available on the CPC website under the Resources > Tunes page.]


Pipers' Gathering @ the National Folk Festival

Report by Merran Moir

In early April four representatives from our Celtic Piping Club made the trek to Canberra for the National Folk Festival. Sarah, Geoff, Matt and Merran were ‘on the bill’ to present a demonstration/workshop about various bellows pipes, and then host a come and try and session.

The actual presentation included Geoff and his Northumbrian pipes, Merran with borders, Matt with Uilleann and Sarah with smallpipes. The event was well attended, by both players and interested onlookers. We were able to present not only the instruments but demonstrate some solo tunes, duets, trios and quartets! Many appreciated the opportunity to come and try some bellows pipes - especially some young highland pipers in the audience, and some others pulled their instruments out of the box for advice and tips.

The session that followed included about 20 players of various pipes, and we were fortunate Dave Alleway joined the fun with his beautiful harp. Thank you Dave!

Some of the players after the session

An offshoot of being at the festival was the opportunity to take part in many blackboard events – Sarah with “Duck Duck Goose”, Matt with Trioc, Geoff with Taliska, and of course the myriad of opportunities presented by being with other musicians around the festival and in the session bar.

Sarah with 'Duck Duck Goose'

Matt with 'Trioc'

Thanks to Sarah for coordinating our involvement. It’s certainly exciting to be part of the group as it gains momentum.


LBPS Annual Competition

The Lowland & Border Pipers' Society Annual Competition has been run and won. Congratulations to Geoff Jones for once again taking out the Overseas Class in this year's LBPS Competition. You can listen to the Overseas Class place-getters entries on the LBPS website.


Celtic Piping Club Stickers

Need something to tart up your pipe case? You're in luck. Celtic Piping Club stickers have now arrived! Selling for $3 at Club events.


Regular Piping Sessions

Adelaide - Pipers Gathering

When: 1st Monday of each month (usually)
Where: Contact Jack for details.
Contact: Jack Brennan via brennanjack@optusnet.com.au

Brisbane - Irish Piping Sessions

When: 2nd & 4th Tuesday of each month
Where: Milton (Brisbane)
Contact: Malcolm McLaren on (07) 3820-2902 or email mrmclaren@bigpond.com

Brisbane - Smallpipe Sessions

When: First Tuesday of each month
Where: Milton (Brisbane)
Contact: Malcolm McLaren on (07) 3820-2902 or email mrmclaren@bigpond.com

Melbourne - Celtic Piping Session

When: 2nd Sunday of each month (usually - see below) 2pm - 6pm.
Where: Upstairs at the Lord Newry Hotel - 543 Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy.
Contact: us via email@celticpipingclub.com
Future session dates:
  • Sun 10 May (focus on uilleann pipes)
  • Other 2015 dates tbc

NESSIE - North East Scottish Strings including Elbow Pipes

When: 2nd Sunday of each month
Where: North East Victoria
Contact: Kristen on (03) 5766 6282
Do you run a piping session or get to any folk sessions where pipers are welcome, or would like to write about a piping-related event? Click here to send us an email...we'd love to hear from you.

That's all for this newsletter.

Until next time...

Your friends in piping,

The Celtic Piping Club crew

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