Playing the bagpipes is something I have done for some 40 years.
It has allowed me to meet people I would never
have been able to do orthewise. It has allowed me to travel many
including Australia, Scotland an the United Staes (that was before
I came to the states to live). My piping background is very much
centered in my home country - New Zealand.
Click here to listen
to Ian's performance on the Shuttle
Pipes with Guitar playing Amazing Grace.
The Pipes Are Calling
by Phil Houseal
Mar 12, 2008
Whenever I have needed an obtuse musical reference
I have called upon the bagpipe, figuring there were no Scottish
Highlanders in the Texas hills
to take offense.
I stand corrected, and duly admonished, for now we have an authentic
piper in our midst.
Ian Blackie will perform on bagpipe at the Third Annual Paddy's
Party this weekend, in benefit of the Hill Country SPCA.
Blackie, who moved to Fredericksburg last May, is a native of
New Zealand. While that country is 12,000 miles from Scotland -
of the bagpipe - Blackie boasts proud Scottish roots from his grandparents,
who influenced his love for the instrument he has played for
years. New Zealand apparently has a rich tradition for Scottish
"I grew up in a very small town one-third the size of Fredericksburg," he noted. "Even
though it was a small community, it had its own pipe band. At one point there
were more pipe bands in New Zealand than in Scotland."
He pointed out the historical connection between Scotland and
Texas, starting with the 30 Scots who fought in the Battle of the
Alamo to the more than half
of all Texas counties named for Scots. Some linguists even maintain that
the Texan phrase "y'all" evolved from Gaelic. In spite of the shared history, Blackie
is aware of America's ambivalence toward the traditional Scottish instrument.
"Some of that distaste is deserved because some people who play bagpipes here
don't play it well," he said. "I like to play the very best I can so they get
a good impression of the instrument."
Appreciation of the pipes is an elusive quality. Bagpipes were
woven into the lives and culture of Europe in the 16th and 17th
centuries. They were the centerpiece
of weddings and religious festivals, and led British military forces
into battle right up to World War II. But due to their limited
musical range, they gradually
fell out of favor, a trend that continues to the present day.
What does Blackie consider to be the true beauty of bagpipes?
"It is difficult to answer, because the sound of the instrument and of a good
band gets my attention every time. I have been doing it for so long, that it's
part of me, I guess. But it is also cultural. One of the things I do when I teach
is to make sure the student has an understanding not only of the history of the
instrument, but also of the music itself. It is very rich.
The Thompson family will join Blackie in providing Celtic entertainment at Paddy's
Party. Sisters Kelsey and Kathryn dance jigs, reels, and step dances to the accompaniment
of brothers Garret on fiddle and Gavin on guitar. Sponsors promise ample quantities
of Irish food and drink at the event.
Blackie, who runs a small marketing company, turns to marketing
when he performs at special occasions. He likes to share some history
of the instrument, explain
how it works, and answer questions about the music. He will be
doing just that at Paddy's Party.
"I have interest in getting involved in the community as far as music, whether
teaching or playing, whatever it might be," said Blackie, who is often booked
for weddings and funerals. "But the focus this weekend is on the Society."
Even so, the pipes, the pipes are calling.
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