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“Piper and Former Street Busker Jimi McRae Plays the Pipes Like a Lead Guitar”

Added: (Tue Nov 01 2005)

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“Piper and Former Street Busker Jimi McRae Plays the Pipes Like a Lead Guitar”

Celtic/World/Inst/Bagpipe/Air Pipe Players As In Air Guitar.

In February 2003, the Jimi McRae Band was formed (renamed Pipedreams in 2005), featuring Piper and former street busker Jimi McRae, record producer Iain McKinna on bass, Kirsty Anderson on electric violin, and Dave Haswell on drums and percussion. With a solid band line-up behind him, Jimi's big heart creates an inspiring sound which is like no other pipe music. His roots in both pipe music and rock have found an expression which is powerful, graceful and accessible.

Since its formation, Pipedreams have been setting the heather alight with dynamic performances at many of Scotland's prime venues, including T-in the Park, The American Football World Bowl Final at Scotland's national stadium Hampden Park, Glasgow West End Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Meadowbank Stadium, Sutherland Folk Festival, Stockton-on-Tees Riverside Festival and Traquair Fair. The band also provided the main support for Lulu at Stirling Castle on Hogmanay 2004.

As part of their now-established Edinburgh Fringe appearances, the band's live one-hour performance under Edinburgh Castle was filmed for cable TV Channel 90. Pipedreams travelled to Beijing in February 2005 for the Chinese New Year celebrations to perform a series of nine acclaimed concerts at the Chaoyang Spring Festival, where attendances averaged 50,000 people per day.

Following a gig at the PRS stage on Edinburgh's Fringe Sunday 2004, in which they were the only band to be unanimously chosen by a panel of Music Industry experts to perform out of thousands of applicants, Jimi won a 2005 national composition award by the PRS Foundation Atom Award (Performing Rights Society) for his composition Dornie Bends. Forty five composers in the UK were nominated and from those fifteen won the prestigious award.

The music is a unique blend of explorative compositions by Jimi and Iain, the main aim being to present the pipes to a whole new audience who may not otherwise be exposed to this awesome instrument in an enjoyably presented and musically proficient performance.

Jimi plays the pipes like a lead guitar in some of the tunes, exploding into feedback and screaming guitar type effects with one foot on the monitor for the more powerful show stopping compositions. The band is also on tune when it comes to playing the trickier Celtic based numbers.

The pipes and violin duel and harmonise visually and musically. The chemistry between all the players is apparent at their gigs and its ability to ignite an audience as a result is moving the band onto a new level.

How Jimi McRae & Iain McKinna Met
In early 1999 Ian McKinna had just finished producing an album called Borderland by John McNairn and decided to have a go at composing and recording some Celtic influenced music.

Having recorded some backing tracks I was not satisfied that they were Celtic enough, not coming from a folk background the tracks sounded too contemporary. While wandering down the High Street one day I introduced myself to street busker and Piper Jimi McRae who had often raised a smile as I passed him playing on several occasions. I was struck by the way he made the Pipes sound almost like a guitar, bending notes and adding dollops of vibrato. To out it mildly I wasn't a fan of the bagpipes but Jimi sounded refreshingly different.

I invited him to my studio to guest on the two tracks I had begun writing. Even in the studio, when he was jamming parts for the track Jimi's commitment to what he played struck me straight away. Inhibitions were cast aside as we both burst into air pipe poses (and gales of laughter) while he screamed through the tracks.

After the session Jimi informed me that he planned to hire a DAT recorder and find a quite field somewhere to record a solo album that he could sell on the streets. Straight away I offered to record the album in the studio and after approx one week recording and mixing we had completed his debut album 'Pipedreams'.

As soon as it arrived back from the pressing plant Jimi got to work on selling the album and within six weeks we were already pressing another batch. Realising I had a product on my hands I set about trying to promote Jimi more actively and seeing the need for a video to promote his presence and image

I approached the Ross band stand In Princes Street who were hosting cable TV events to promote acts in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1999 which was about to begin. I decided to phone the organisers and try to blag a spot for Jimi on the Princes Street stage.

When I asked if they needed a piper to appear the organiser didn't sound too keen. "What, is it just a piper on his own? I don't think we want that". At that time I was producing an album for Senegalese drummer and vocalist Hamed Kane and looking around the room
I noticed the Djembe he had give me as a gift. "No" I said, "He also has an drummer who plays the Djembe".... "That sounds great!", said the organiser. "We're looking for something a bit different to open the festival tomorrow, would he be able to do it?" . "Of course!" I said, "We would love to do that".

Ten minutes after the call Jimi and I were rehearsing for our first gig which thankfully went very well. Walking down the High Street after the appearance (which was filmed for cable TV by World Art.com), somewhat elated, we noticed lots of street acts on stages on the High Street. We asked the organisers if we could have a spot. They agreed and five minutes later we were doing a street show, after which we sold a reasonable quantity of CDs. We were promptly booked by the street organisers to appear every day for the duration of the Festival.

Fairly soon into our stint, we decided to beef up our street act and end the finale with a 'Who' type ending to your show. Jimi would go down on his knees and start freaking out with pipe sounds that resembled guitar feedback while I did a kicking the shit out of the Djembe routine that would have made Hamed Kane deeply ashamed of me had he witnessed what I was doing to his beloved drum. This mad addition to the show immediately boosted our CD sales by a factor of 10!

Towards the end of our stint we were invited to play several slots at the Bongo Club and at the end of the Fringe we were invited to play the best of the Fringe gig at the famous Cafe Graffiti .Our Festival ended with us doing the closing spot at The Ross bandstand on Princes Street for Cable TV.

Around a year later we started another album for Jimi called Earthdance. The two tracks we had first recorded together before we had even started his debut album Pipedreams (Highland Trance and Mystical Mountains) were the starting point for the album.

Label: Off Beat Scotland.
URL: www.offbeat.co.uk
Cat No: OSO 10 CD
Release Date: November 14, 2005.
Distributor: Proper Music

Submitted by:Pat Tynan Media
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