CD A0352: The Islay Ball

The Islay Ball
Gary West

CD coverThe Islay Ball … is a delight from start to finish. Gary doesn't mess around and enlists some very able help to provide the accompaniment to his superb piping and whistle playing. A well-chosen mix of his own tunes and some well-weathered classics gives Gary's CD a beautifully balanced feel. Gary's CD has to be a strong contender for piping CD of the year. (Chris Mackenzie, The Living Tradition)

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Gary West: profile & index of recordings

Track Listing & Audio Samples

The Islay Ball

1.  The Mason's Apron
2.  Pipe Jigs of the Border Country
3.  Chi mi'n Gheamhraidh
4.  2/4 Marches
5.  The Coupit Yowe
6.  The Plummeting Piper
7.  Kilworth Hills
8.  Scarce o Tatties
9.  A Camilo Jorge
10. The Islay Ball
11. Loosen the Ties
12. Last Waltz at the Islay Ball

CD Notes

CD Sleeve Notes

1.  The Mason's Apron
     Fleshmarket Close (M.Grey;pub Isa Music)
     The Yellow-Haired Tinker (trad/arr. G.West & T. McManus/pub. Grian Music)
     The Mason's Apron (trad/arr. G.West, T.McManus & D. Milligan/pub. Grian Music)
Gary: smallpipes in D
Tony McManus: bouzouki
David Milligan: piano

2.  Pipe Jigs of the Border Country
     Dixon'sHighland Laddie (trad/arr.M.Seattle/pub Dragonfly Music)
     Rangers' Frolic (trad/arr. Seattle, Bayley & Hannigan/pub Dragonfly Music)
Gary:smallpipes in D
Kath Campbell: cello
Tony McManus: bouzouki
Wendy Stewart: concertina
Two tunes from the William Dixon Manuscript of 1733, which the Perthshire collector, Lady Dorothea Murray, recognised in 1909 as a collection of 'Pipe Jigs of the Border Country'. The manuscript lay virtually forgotten in a Perth library until it was re-discovered and published by Matt Seattle in 1995, thus providing the lowland and border piping revivalists with a wonderful insight into the music of their forebears. Most of the tunes are of the 'theme and variations' form, and would probably have been the standard musical fare of weddings, dances, and domestic gatherings on both sides of the border during the 18th century. Many of the tune titles are earthy to say the least: Dixson's version of Rangers' Frolic was given the rather more graphic and less politically correct name, 'Hit Her Between the Legs'.

3.  Chi mi'n Gheamhraidh (C and R. MacDonald, pub Isa Music)
Gary: whistle
Wendy Stewart: harp
The melody of a modern Gaelic love song composed by Calum and Rory MacDonald of the band, Runrig.

4.  2/4 Marches - Willie Angus MacDonald of Melness(S. Forbes, copyright control)
                          Cleveland Heights(G. West, pub Grian Music)
Gary: highland pipes
One of my most special piping memories was playing the first of these marches on the Sutherland croft of Willie Angus MacDonald. The tune had been written for him by an old friend some years before, but he had not heard it since. He shyly produced the sheet music and asked whether I might be able to play it onto a cassette for him, which I was more than happy to do, especially as he was kind enough to let us camp on his land. The pride on his face when I played it for him is something I will never forget: it's what it's all about. Sadly, Willie Angus has since passed away.
Cleveland Heights was composed while visiting my sister-in-law, Fiona McEwan, in her former home in Cleveland, Ohio.

5.  The Coupit Yowe
     Wendy's Favourite(G Grian Music)
     The Half-Coupit Yowe(G West. pub Grian Music)
Gary: low whistle, whistle, highland pipes
Colin Campbell: fiddle
Tony McManus: guitar
Davod Milligan: piano
The first of these was written for my wife. The other two were written for sheep.

6.  The Plummeting Piper
     The Plummeting Piper(G. West, pub Grian Music)
     Douglasfield (G West, pub Grian Music)
     The Streaker (D Johnstone,MCPS and PRS)
Gary: highland pipes
Tony McManus: guitar
Wendy Stewart: electro harp
The first of these hornpipes is, unfortunately, wholly autobiographical: within seconds of arriving for the first time on the Island of Mull I fell off it. The second was composed for Jimmy and Christine Craig, sometime of Douglasfield, Burrelton, Perthshire, to comemorate their emigration to the south of England. The first part of the melody was unwittingly, though undeniably, 'inspired' by the 4/4 march, MacFail from Bunessan by Freeland Barbour, to whom I offer my apologies, my thanks, and 25%! The Streaker is just one small part of the rich legacy of tunes left to us by the late Duncan Johnstone.
This set is dedicated to the memory of Davy Steel, first hand witness to the piper's plummet, and with whom I shared so many good times.

7.  Kilworth Hills (G.S MacLennan/Pub Dom/arr G.West & K.Campbell/pub Grian Music)
Gary: smallpipes in D
Kath Campbell: cello
A classic retreat march by one of the greatest ever composers of Highland pipe music.

8.  Scarce o Tatties
     Scarce o Tatties(N MacLean/MCPS & PRS)
     The Gold Ring (trad/arr. G.West. K. Campbell & T. McManus/pub. Grian Music)
Gary : smallpipes in D
Kat Campbell: cello
Tony McManus: bouzouki, guitar
Two of my favourite jigs, one from Scotland, the other from Ireland.

9.  A Camilo Jorge (words: John Gillies/melody: Carlos Arredondo/cop/con.)
Carlos Arredondo: vocals, guitar;
Gary : low whistle, smallpipes in A
Wendy Stewart: electroharp
I first got to know Carlos Arredondo when he came to study in the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh, although I had been an admirer of his music for some time before that.
This is a setting of a poem written by John Gillies, to celebrate the birth of Carlos' son, Camilo. The poem combines images of Carlos's native Santiago, Chile, and those of the birth place of Camilo's mother, Carrara in Italy.

10. The Islay Ball
      Saligo Bay (G. West, pub Grian Music)
      Cabar Feidh (trad/arr G West/pub Grian Music)
      The Islay Ball (trad/arr G West/pub Grian Music)
       Broadford Bay (W. Fraser/cop.con)
       The Rejected Suitor (trad/arr G. West/pub Grian Music)
Gary: highland pipes

11. Loosen the Ties
      Strip the Willow with Hugh MacDiarmid's Haircut
      The Hag at the Churn
      The Lark in the Morning
      Old Hag You Have Killed Me
(all trad/arr. G west. C. Matheson. M. Watt & S. Wilson/pub Grian Music)
Hugh MacDiarmid's Haircut are
Gary: highland pipes
Colin Matheson : guitar, keyboards
Marcos Watt :percusion
Stan Wilson : bass guitar

12.  Last Waltz at the Islay Ball (Gary and Wendy West. pub Grian Music)
Gary: low whistle, whistle
Colin Campbell : fiddle
Kath Campbell : piano and cello
Tony McManus : guitar


CD Credits

CD Credits

Musicians :
Gary West : Highland pipes, Scottish smallpipes, whistles
Carlos Arredondo : vocals, guitar
Colin Campbell : fiddle
Kath Campbell : Cello, Piano
Colin Matheson : keyboards, guitar
Tony McManus : bouzouki, guitar
David Milligan : piano
Wendy Stewart : Concertina, harp, electroharp
Marcos Watt : Percussion
Stan Wilson : bass

Produced by Tony McManus
Recorded and mastered by Peter Haigh

Special thanks to Tony McManus and Peter Haigh for their patience, imagination and ears. Most of all, thanks to all of my family, especially my son Charlie for his enthusiastic dancing to the practice tapes, and to my wife, Wendy: I owe her so much.

Cockenzie Business Centre
Edinburgh Road
East Lothian
EH32 0XL email:

© 2001 Greentrax Recordings Ltd

Album Information

Title: The Islay Ball
Artist: Gary West
Genre: Traditional / Scottish
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0350
Label: Greentrax Recording Ltd
Year: 2001
Origin: Scotland (EU)