Volume XIII Number 3 - March 2004


So, enough of Martha Bloody Stewart, already. Who gives a rat's rosy about her woes? Arrogance gets paid for in the end. Besides, when there's much more grist for the mill out here in WUSPBA land, who cares what happens to a bitchy homemaker in Noo Yawk?

Seems that the 'Champion of Champions' contest held last October violates the WUSPBA charter and bylaws - hooda thunkit? Not to mention the $3k it put the organisation in the red. Maybe those Rocky Mountain High types should try READING the regulations before they ramrod another hair-brained idea through their Board. Back when the Great and Powerful Oz was in charge, do you think he would have put up with this sort of crap? Fuhgeddaboudit! As I'm no longer a member, I can't complain; hell, I'm laughing my head off!

...I just report the facts, ma'am, just the facts!

NEW IN THE SHOP DEPARTMENT: Crozier Drone reeds from OZ, a true 'Rocket' clone that delivers serious tone in an air-efficient package. More volume than Duatones for your band pipe - or for your solo pipe if you want a stronger drone in the blend. Easy adjustments and clean design make this reed a winner. I have ONE set left in stock and more coming later this month....

Meanwhile, back at the BBC (the Basement Bagpipe Company?) we're still finagling with prices relative to the skyrocketing pound. In less than two years it's gone from $1.42 to $1.86, and will assuredly climb to $2.00 or more over the summer. Mix that with expected $3.00 gas prices and we'll see a lot fewer people at games this year. I had hoped to expand my shop travel this year, but with expected rises in travel costs, we'll be sticking close to the old campfire, if you get my meaning. I WILL be at my usual haunts of Pleasanton and Woodland, and I'll make appearances to sign autographs (yeah, right) at several other venues close to home, but it looks like Costa Mesa and San Diego are out this time around. So, I hope to see a lot of you at Woodland next month....

We are sad to hear that P/M Richard Parkes of FMM fame suffered a stroke on March 8 while returning home from a trip to the US. We wish him well for a speedy recovery.

Our first review of the CD:

Armed and Dangerous' - New Pipe Music from John Partanen and Iain Sherwood

A Preview by Pipe Major Roger Huth; President of the Piping Society of London

Old and New

On the tartan cover of this CD we find a message in the form of an antique pipe chanter by Prize Bagpipe Maker and ancient music compiler, Donald MacDonald lying across a dirk from circa 1700. Although we are about to listen to freshly written pieces, there is this constant reminder that the Art of the Highland Bagpipe has a deeply founded history. Pipers would play for their Clan Chiefs, and also encouraged those soldiers in battle, who were armed and very dangerous.

The Reasons

In my view, this CD is not just about two pipers showing off their obvious bagpiping skills. It is also an audible record of good present day compositions that might otherwise be lost. Anyone who has reason to contact Iain Sherwood, for instance, is soon aware that he has studied history and is a reliable authority on the Scottish aspects of it. He speaks the Gaelic and has a huge depth of piobaireachd knowledge including canntaireachd. This CD is in memory of Iain's brother Captain Charles Sherwood who sadly died in 2002. When Iain was seven years old, he was rescued from drowning by his older brother.

The Instruments

We are reminded of Iain's interest in history by the fact that he informs the listener which instrument and reeds the player is using. As the years pass, this information often gets lost to the regret of ensuing generations.New mixes with old as we see that John is playing tried and tested 1912 Lawrie drones with 1990 Naill chanter, while Iain plays a modern set of 2001 reproduction J&R Glens with Kintail chanter. What Iain also offers on this CD then, is the opportunity to compare all the different tonal qualities of instruments and reeds.

The Music

A glance down the page tells us that, although this CD is Iain's creation he has wanted John to be the major player with seven of the eleven tracks. Iain composed eighteen of the pieces, John seven, Brian Donaldson and D.R McLennan one each.

The Tracks

1. John Partanen kick starts the CD with three superb 2/4 Competition style four parted Marches composed by Iain Sherwood.  'Angus Hamilton' in the D key is contrasted by 'Susan Galterie' which breaks into the key of A and has a tricky birl ending.  'Donald Dewar's Welcome' seems to incorporate all the keys providing a nice finish to a pleasing set of tunes.

2. John then plays the moving Piobaireachd 'Lament for My Brother'. Iain composed this piece on the sad death of Captain Charles Sherwood USMC in June 2002. As with most good Piobaireachd, it is worth more than one listen in order to feel the tune. John plays this piece very well indeed on a good pipe. The crunluath variations are especially good to listen to, as John allows the difficult grace notes to flow in an open fashion.

3. Iain Sherwood now picks up his pipes and gives us four more of his own tunes, this time in Waltz rhythm. 'The Absent Wife', 'Princess Elizabeth', 'Mrs MacManus' and 'Theresa Soder'. The reproduction Glens gently hum their pleasance in the background as Iain cannot resist some piobaireachd movements in the second tune. The set flows well and the tunes intertwine very nicely together. The last piece makes full use of the chanter's note range.

4. Further lightening the mood somewhat, John plays three of Iain's strathspeys called 'Beatrice Mackintosh', 'Footering About' and 'Ham Kelley of North Neck'. These become ever more delightful as John's fingers and his pipes warm to their task. This is good stuff and it is nice to hear some good new strathspeys getting played. The pipes stay settled and are good.

5. Iain's pipes have also settled nicely for the piobaireachd 'The Golden Gate'. Iain composed this very nice and special piece in 2000 for the eightieth birthday of his mother.

6.  John now plays some tricky hornpipes and jigs that Iain has composed over the years called 'Cheeky's March To Glory', 'Brian Donaldson', 'The Scooter' and 'Stewart Mackintosh'. His bagpipe is very sweet and he is obviously enjoying these tunes as will any listener to them. He has good fingers and the ability to keep these new tunes flowing and interesting.

7. It is now time to hear some of John's compositions. A March, Strathspey and Reel 'The Road to Kilmaluag', 'Molly's Pouffee Pillow' and 'The Bobbin Winder'. All good tunes and played with careful skill. Particularly good control of tempo as with all the tracks.

8. Time to slow down a bit and relax with a slow air called 'A Coronach for Beatrice' played and composed by Iain, followed by Brian Donaldson's 'Lady Georgina Bruce'.

9. John now plays his own Piobaireachd 'Scarce of Drumming' which is surprisingly good and very well played. The tempo is bright and uplifting on an excellent bagpipe.

10.  John now plays some more of his own pieces. The slow air 'Matilda of Scotland' and three jigs 'Linn of Lorn', 'Jimmy the Genius' and 'The Lacemaker'.  For those who like sliding C's and F's there are plenty of them here. As always the pipes and tempi are good and can only add to the listener's pleasure.

11.  Time to go and Iain closes his CD with a slow air by D.R McLennan 'Chi Midh Mulla' followed by a 4/4 march 'The Guard at Heaven's Gate' which Iain took from his piobaireachd 'Lament for My Brother'.   As the piece fades sadly away, we are reminded as to whom this CD is dedicated.

Roger Huth


Well.. I gave up politics with the WUSPBA, for Lent.  Easter though is only 4 weeks away now.  There are already messages on the wuspbachat message board that it is to quiet.  I tried to "pep" things up a bit by adding the, but alas, attachments aren't allowed to prevent viruses.  Guess that's good.  I urge all to have a look at Roger's review above if you haven't already, and BUY ONE!  Everyone that has so far has been very pleased.  All of the music is original.  Sheet music may be provided on request.  For now, all you'se out thar have a nice Lent, and be sure ta gae ta church on Easter Sunday, and says yer prayers nic'en reverently like.  Pray fer the WUSPBA whilst yer at it.  Be good pipers and drummers and play well.

Ol' Black Part   

until next month....

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