These guys are GREAT!! I’d vaguely heard of them, sort of, but don’t think I’ve (consciously) heard them perform. That was until a cobber of mine loaned me a DVD of a live performance by them at the Fruitmarket in Glasgow. Wow!!!I am a several generations removed of Scots heritage- at least that’s as far back as genealogy-dredging has managed to go so far. I have a strong suspicion that further back than the days of the highland inter-clan wars, way back when the Campbells were battling the MacDonalds my forebears resided in Ireland. We arrived in Scotland as sort of mercenaries or at least ‘indentured’ fighters taken across the Irish Sea to help the Campbells and their allies, and thus we find our Scottish heritage arising out of Argyllshire, around Loch Lomond.
And what does this have to do with the ‘Magic of Music’? Let me explain. I was watching the DVD of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and was SO impressed. Dressed in quasi-traditional garb- plain, dark kilts with kilt-pin, black shirts with monogram, red socks with black tabs, red or red and black tasseled sporrans and Ghillie brogues, they looked really smart. There are three pipers, one lead (electric) guitarist, one bass (electric) guitarist, one snare drummer, one major drum-kit drummer, one (electric) key-board and one bongo drummer. They have supporting wind players- saxophone, trumpet, trombone, and a group of Hot Chilli Dancers, also in quasi-traditional garb.
The performance started well with a really catchy, foot-tapping piece that demonstrated that ALL were pretty competent with their instrument, and even surprised somewhat with the clever mix of modern and traditional piping and catchy tempo changes. I had headphones on and was soaking up the sounds until about half-way through when they started playing a piece that started with a solo piper and subtle guitar and keyboard accompaniment which grew with the addition of the other pipers and drums, including the Kintyre Schools Highland Pipe Band (full contingent of pipes and rums) and it was about then that I found my eyes filling with tears and my thoughts being somewhat confused because my eyes were filling with tears, even to the extent that I had to admit I was crying! For God’s sake! Crying! Why? I’d never heard the piece before and so there was no reason! However the piece ran it’s course and it wasn’t until I rewound to just before the start when I heard the introduction. The Chilli Piper heard it first being played by the schools band, and the tune was written by a pipe major who was a POW in a prison in Germany in WW2, and was called ‘Song of Argyll’, the region from whence he (and coincidentally, my family) came. Could there be any other reason for the tears? I don’t know, but it hit me quite hard that such a thing had happened.
I was quietly recovering from that when the Chilli Pipers’ drummers started a to me very familiar rhythm- the introduction to ‘Highland Cathedral‘. Oh God- here I go again! They played it very well including the schools band after the three pipers had done their introductory bit. This time there was no surprise caused by the tears- this was the tune that I walked my daughter down the aisle to being preceded by a lone piper. She was fine with it but her father was hopeless- MY BABY! Getting married! So now whenever I hear this tune, especially when played by a full pipe band I become little more than a blubbering wreck! Hey ho.