October 4 Pub Night Recap

BPS October 2019 Musicians. Photo by Shelby Fletcher

On October 4 the Pipers’ Society hosted what is likely to be its last outdoor pub night of 2019, as winter weather is sure to start rolling in by November. The weather for this meet was perfect, starting in the low 70s and dropping into the 60s as the evening wore on.

The Pub Night featured 12 musicians – 7 bagpipes, 2 tenor drummers, and 3 chanter learners – one of our largest turnouts of pipers to date. The group also featured gender parity – 6 of he musicians present were women. In all, one piper joined a large ensemble for the first time today, two joined their first Pipers’ Society meeting, and one made their performance debut of any type on the chanter today.

Performances ranged from piping duets to full ensembles, as well as smallpipe performances, Galician gaita, practice chanter, and border shepherd pipes, most accompanied by tenor drum.

With the end of the year coming, chances are good that this was our last outdoor pub night. We’ll be back next month regardless on November 8 – if the nights are too cold, we’ll be on our quieter smallpipes! We hope to see you then.


June 7, 2019 Meet Notes

The second half of the evening featured session tunes.

Summer is in full swing in Bloomington, Indiana, and that means the Bloomington Pipers’ Society is outside on the patio of the Runcible Spoon! Five musicians – one piper, one chanter learner, two drummers, and a guitarist came out, alongside some enthusiastic audience members to enjoy some tunes on a lovely sunny day in the low-80s. All in all, 8 diners watched, while folks inside listened, and passerbys hung around throughout the night to listen to some pipes, drums, and guitar.

In the first part of the evening piper Angus broke out the big pipes and played a few sets spaced out across the first hour – mainly upbeat dance tunes, but also tunes including “Hector the Hero” and a set of 4/4 Marches for a visitor on a trip through Bloomington from Portland, Oregon to New York City. Bodhran players Jeanie and Lois accompanied Angus on all sets on the big pipes. Angus and Joe demonstrated the practice chanter to some curious guests. Closing out for the last half hour of music, all performers played together on smallpipes and other instruments while guests had dinner.

The next Pub Night will be held on July 12, 2019 at 6PM. They are held until 8PM. Some full sized drums may be in attendance, along with pipers. The evening will be mostly the same format – bigger and louder instruments early on, and winding down to smallpipes and session instruments later in the evening.

If you’re a piper and interested in coming out, take a look at our set tunes list for suggested tunes to bring to play along!


March 8, 2019 Meet Report

Seven days ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, the Bloomington Pipers’ Society rolled out another of its monthly Pub Nights at the Runcible Spoon Restaurant. The weather is beginning to warm up in Southern Indiana, but still not quite suitable for the big pipes, so we were inside on smallpipes and other instruments for a bit of Scottish sessioning.

On this particular pub night, we were joined by seven musicians – three pipers, two chanter learners, a guitarist, and a fiddler. All told, thirty people came out to have a drink, eat some food, and listen to some Scottish tunes.

The BPS Set Tunes list is beginning to see some use at the gatherings as folks work those tunes up to performing level, this month featured some of the jigs on the list. Chanter learner Joe got the chance to play on a goose pipe (just the bag, blowpipe, and chanter) along with Marc and Angus on a run of Auld Lang Syne – his first performance of a tune in public.

The next Pub Night will be held on April 12, 2019 at the Runcible Spoon from 6:00PM to 8:00PM. If weather serves well, there may be some tunes on the big pipes on the patio early in the session. If not, it’ll be once again on the smallpipes indoors!


December 2017 Gathering Report

The December Gathering this year was a low-key affair, drilling down into tunes and prepping performance material for our members for the coming season.

Angus running the Set Tunes Club.

The afternoon kicked off with a walk-through of two tunes from the Bloomington Pipers’ Society’s set tunes – the aire “Skye Boat Song” and the jig “Oft in a Stilly Night”. These two pieces are bite-sized tunes which are fun to play and were the first tunes featured in our monthly Set Tunes Club because they are great for pulling out at performances. The Set Tunes are meant to give Society members and other pipers in the area a common set of tunes to perform together, regardless of if they’re in different bands, or no bands at all.

After running through the tunes, the pipers present took out their pipes to give the instruments a go. Chris Eller took up his pipes to do a test run of his 2018 solo competition 2/4 March, “Captain Norman Orr Ewing”. After a bit of tuning on “Skye Boat Song”, he did an initial run on the tune. After the first run he played it again. Chris’ pipes had a good powerful sound, and his the pipes were well tuned.

Chanter student Wolfe took up the stage next to perform his piece for competition, the 2/4 March “Teribus”. Wolfe performed this piece at the Bloomington Bagpipe Recital on November 28, and it continues to come together. Wolfe is the first practice chanter student to have performed solo at a BPS meeting.

Society president Angus Martin pulled out his pipes to set up a reed in one of his solo chanters. After fiddling with a reed, and an aggressive amount of attention on the high-G, Angus got the chanter set decently. He then performed two of his three 2018 competition 2/4 Marches back to back – first “Millbank Cottage”, followed by “The Knightswood Celeidh”. Going into part 3 of Millbank Cottage Angus had a bit of a memory bauble, but got back on and finished the tunes.

Next month we will be holding the second session of the Set Tunes Club, tackling the jig “Rocking the Baby” and the 4/4 March “Dawning of the Day”. Set Tunes Club will go from 4:00pm to 5:00pm, followed by the January Gathering proper, from 5:00pm to 6:00pm. Details about the gathering program will be coming in the next week or so. Bound 2018 Set Tune volumes will be available for Society members, and registration forms will be available for those interested in becoming a member.


January 2017 Gathering Notes

Performers of the January 2017 Gathering, Left to Right:
Chris Figland, Angus Martin, Siddharth Bhaskar, Chris Eller, Mary Jean Holwager

The Bloomington Pipers’ Society kicked off the new year with a new space at St. Thomas Lutheran Church, and with a bit of Irish piping and whistle! Our featured performer was Siddharth Bhaskar, uilleann piper and tin whistle player, filled out by some smallpipes by Angus Martin, highland pipes by Chris Eller, and a practice chanter demonstration by Chris Figland, Chris Eller, Angus Martin, and Mary Jean Holwager.

Our local piper Angus Martin began the evening’s music with several sets on his set of Nate Banton smallpipes. He played first a medley of tunes modeled on the classic pipe band medley format; hornpipe, strathspeys, reels, slow air, and jig. From there he played a favorite waltz and jigs set of his featuring the tunes Sailing Solo on the Minnow, The Kitchenmaid, and Geese in the Bog. After taking some questions about the instrument, he performer by request the Cabar Feidh march followed by the strathspey version of the same tune.

Siddharth Bhaskar on the Uilleann pipes

Angus was followed by piper Chris Eller who performed on the highland pipes a set made up of a 3/4 March and Slow Air. The tunes were I See Mull and The Skye Boat Song. Chris took questions about the instrument, as we had a large number of newcomers at our gathering! He received questions ranging from the instrument’s history to its construction.

The evening’s featured performer followed Chris. Siddharth alternated sets between the Uilleann pipes and the Irish tin whistle. Siddharth performed sets from different regional styles in Ireland, from the west coast to the northern coasts near Scotland. To the delight of experienced pipers and newcoming audience members, he detailed the features of the instrument, and discussed with members of the audience the differences between the other two types of bagpipes seen throughout the evening. He performed hornpipes, airs, slip jigs, hop jigs, highlands, and reels. After the main portion of the evening, he showed piper Angus Martin the instrument, and had him try out jumping up to the second octave, which Angus’ native instrument is unable to do.

The evening concluded with a performance by four of the Society’s highland pipers demonstrating on practice chanter the tune Green Hills of Tyrol together.

The Society meets again at St. Thomas Lutheran Church on February 26, 2017.

Chris Eller on the Great Highland Bagpipe

October Gathering Report – 10.16.2016

The Bloomington Pipers’ Society kicked off its third season on October 16 with a robust lineup of artists. On a bright sunny Homecoming weekend in Bloomington, Indiana, the Society presented a program featuring bagpipes, Scottish snare drum, and highland dance, presenting to one of its largest audiences to date. In total, six artists performed for an audience of 31 at its beak, including journalists from the Indiana Daily Student.

Ian Arthur, October Local Hero

The program was started by Angus Martin on his Nate Banton Scottish smallpipes. Warming up with a set of marches, Angus moved on to play a series of short and long jigs, followed by a strathspey and two reels. Taking a brief break to explain the music and his instrument, he finished off the introductory performance with a waltz and a jig.

The evening’s Local Hero was piper Ian Arthur. The audience was full of folks who had never heard any type of bagpipe in person before, and Ian took the opportunity to present the instrument and explain a bit about the mechanics and how it works. He proceeded to play two march sets, and a set of dance tunes.

Piper Chris Eller followed, with a medley of tunes comprised of two 4/4 marches, a slow air, and two 2/4 marches.

Ian Arthur returned to the stage to accompany Clancy Clements for a rousing selection of Irish tunes in a duet with Clancy on the Gaita Galega and Ian on the Great Highland Bagpipe. Clancy spoke about the history and construction of the Gaita.

Aimee Dobbs dancing a fiery Irish Jig

Following Clancy was highland dancer Aimee Dobbs, dancing an Irish Jig, with piper Angus Martin accompanying. Before her dance, Aimee described the dance, stressing that it is a Scottish Highland Dance style simply named the Irish Jig. She told the story of the dance – an Irish washerwoman, after a long day of work, having her husband come home late from the pub, having spent all of her hard-earned money.

Before the break for intermission, the pipers of the Society were invited to come up and play as a group in a rendition of Amazing Grace.

Jon Carter on the Scottish Snare Drum

After intermission, drummer Jon Carter was invited to the stage as our Featured Performer for the evening. He was accompanied by Angus. Jon helped explain to the audience about the differences between the Scottish snare drum and the American, both it construction and in technique. He performed a series of march tunes, followed by the Fountain Trust Pipe Band’s 2016 competition March, Strathspey, and Reel set. To cap it all off, Jon and Angus performed the Fountain Trust’s 2016 competition medley at a brisk pace.

The evening was ended with Angus Martin performing on the Great Highland Bagpipes our closing piobaireachd. This month’s piobaireachd was The Battle of Waternish.

Our next gathering is on November 20, 2016 from 4PM to 6PM.

October 2016 Performers, Left to Right: Angus Martin, Ian Arthur, Clancy Clements, Jon Carter, Aimee Dobbs, Chris Eller

Angus Martin
President, Bloomington Pipers’ Society

February Gathering Report

On February 18, the Bloomington Pipers’ Society held its second monthly gathering. At the time of the gathering’s start, the temperature was a frigid 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was 6 inches of snow on the ground from several days’ worth of winter storms. Never to be deterred, six lovers of the bagpipes came out to have dinner, play their pipes, and discuss the instrument which inspired them to brave the weather. Three pipers were in attendance, two of which played. There was of course dinner by the Noodles & Company, our hosts. This month’s gathering was a small but passionate crowd.

The evening’s piping was kicked off by Chris Eller on his set of John Walsh retropipes. Chris performed a set of marches on the smallpipes which he will compete with in Lexington, Kentucky at the Midwest Pipe Band Association’s regional solos qualifier there on February 21. He will be competing in Senior Novice, and will play two, 2-part 2/4 Marches; The Brown Haired Maiden and Mairi’s Wedding. This weekend in Kentucky will be Chris’ first competition on the full pipes, having competed last year on the practice chanter and on the bass drum – the latter of which he won a Champion Supreme title for.

Following Chris was Angus Martin, starting out straight to the Great Highland Bagpipe with a strathspey/reel set which he will be competing with in Lexington, Kentucky at the Grade II level. This will be Angus’ first Grade II contest, having been moved up after his very successful season in Grade III last year. In 2014, he won the Champion Supreme title for Grade III Light Music, placing in the top three in nearly every one of the 30 contests he played in.

For his strathspey/reel set he played the strathspey Dorrator Bridge, and the reel The Sound of Sleat. He followed this set with two hornpipes and two jigs; As Good As It Gets, Mr. Jack, The Kitchenmaid, and Geese in the Bog. He had a few complications in the third part of Mr. Jack, but was able to get back on track and complete the set. Once completing his HHJJ, Angus yielded the floor.

Chris playing his 2/4 march set

Chris took over briefly after that, playing his competition 2/4 marches set on the full pipes. He quickly yielded back to Angus, who played a short set of jigs – The Gaelic Conspiracy, The Foxhunter, and Cutting Bracken – while Chris saw his family off. After that the evening fell into discussion, until Chris picked the pipes back up, and played two marches, I See Mull, and Will Ye No Come Back Again.

Another piper arrived without his pipes, so he could listen and talk. Angus played again with a set of 2/4 Marches – Muir of Ord, Willie Ross’ Farewell to the 2nd Battalion Scots Guard, Haughs of Cromdale, and Campbell’s Farewell to Red Castle. Some discussion followed this, until about a quarter til 8, when Chris played his competition set one last time. The evening was rounded out by Angus playing his own competition 2/4 March for this weekend, The Crags of Sterling.
All in all, a successful evening! Thanks to all those who braved the cold, snow, and ice, and we hope to see them and more at our next gathering! The next Bloomington Pipers’ Society Gathering will be held at the same location, on March 18 – the day after St. Patrick’s Day. If you play, bring your pipes! Next month we will begin with our monthly piobaireachd, so if you know one (or several!) come swing by. 
Angus Martin 
Bloomington Pipers’ Society Co-Founder

Angus plays The Crags of Sterling