Let me do, or die (trying)!

I’m a 60 year old Engineer, come Forester, come Pastor, come Counsellor; life’s been an interesting journey to say the least.  And now, as I look downslope on the latter half of my life, I’m finding I have a tremendous love for my Celtic roots — and even moreso, our traditional Scottish music!

You’ve likely heard this from many other aspiring musicians (pipers), but I really want to discover who I am through Celtic music.  39 years ago, I desperately wanted to become a proficient GHB-piper… that’s the truth. I even went out and bought a stand of Norm Kyle ABW pipes, unsolicited!   Alas, too little inspiration, and too much persperation, led to me surrendering this gargantuan dream.

Today, I far prefer the sweet dulcimer tones of the SSP’s (small pipes), the Border pipes, the Northumbrian and Uilleann pipes, and the like.  I’ve watched many videos of Fred Morrison and Gary West and Martyn Bennett and Will Woodson, and many notable others, play the small & border pipes on YouTube — and every time I do, the hairs on the back of my neck literally stand to attention.  My heart is filled with joy and sorrow, both… as I yearn to be able to enjoy the creation of similar sweet melodies.

Today, I desire to move towards a deeper appreciation of the history, genealogy and love for the Small pipes, if its not too late.  I’m wondering what a person might do to become a budding Vicki Swan or Rob Rife (playing some wicked blues on the pipes, like this Masterclass in Bagpipe Blues )


To this end, I’ve scrimped and saved and asked much sacrifice from my family in order to enter into an agreement with Mr. Les Mountford of Ceol Mohr NZ Ltd., of Papakura, Auckland.  He is an absolute genius — and a fine pipe fettler, to boot.  His ability to craft smallpipes ranks up there with the best, IMHO.  He promised me, and dutifully delivered, the most exquisite stand of small pipes I could have ever hoped for.  I have to show the world the beauty generated by his refined craftsmanship.

SSP's named Sassanach -- you beauties

He used gorgeous Malaysian Ebony to fashion the drones / chanter, and an exquisite boxwood / stainless steel combo for the mounts / ferrules.  When he sent me this pic, my heart leapt into my throat as I began to realize that a 40+ year dream might potentially be realized.  Glory Hallelujah!

As soon as possible, I’d like to travel north to retrieve these beauties (which I’ve named “Sassanach”).  I can’t wait to hold them in my arms for the first time and perhaps, like Rob Rife, I may feel deep in my being “the spiritual topography of my soul humming the well-sung songs of Scotland (entering) the realm of fairies, goblins, and fiercely protective highlanders wielding overly large swords“.

In the immortal words of Rabbie Burns,

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow (I’m sure he meant blowing of the pipes)!
Let us do – or die!