Volume 10 - Flipbook - Page 75
I play Shepherd Bb chanter reed. Ezeedrone
tenor drone reeds. Murray Henderson Carbon
a cane bass reed made my Mark Bennet).
What have been your biggest achievements
For as long as I can remember I always wanted to
play the pipes so I feel very fortunate to be able
to play music for a living now.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to play with some
incredible musicians over the years, not least
my Breabach band members. I’m pleased with
my solo albums; I released my debut album,
James Duncan Mackenzie in 2013 and am
delighted that many of the tunes on that album
are now popular tunes at sessions as well as
being played by Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe
Band in two of their winning performances at
the Worlds! One of those tunes, Smelling Fresh,
was also performed at the world renowned Royal
Edinburgh Military Tattoo this year. Sròmos,
my second album which I released at the start
spent a couple of years composing the tunes,
taking inspiration from a wider variety of music
genres and incorporating a lot more in the way
of electric instrumentation.
Where has piping taken you in the world?
I have travelled overseas on numerous occasions
with my pipes - in fact its very rare that I travel
anywhere without my pipes! I’m very fortunate
that a large part of what I do for a living involves
travelling overseas for gigs.
One of my early trips abroad with my pipes
was to the USA for two weeks when I was 17.
I had won the Scottish Junior Solo Piping
Championships and the prize was a scholarship
to attend the Balmoral School of Piping in the
USA. I spent one week in Kentucky and one week
in California. It was an unforgettable experience
with tuition from John Wilson, Jimmy Maccoll
and the late Alasdair Gillies. Since then I have
travelled extensively for gigs and tours with
Breabach. We have had fairly regular visits to
tour in Europe, North America and Australia.
We’ve toured a couple of times in New Zealand
and we’ve also visited South Korea on two
occasions for gigs. As well as touring with
Breabach I’ve played some incredible gigs with
my solo projects over the last few years and
one of my highlights was playing at the MIMO
festival in Brazil. I’d really like to return and see
more of South America; with or without the
Who do you currently play with?
band. The band members are from all over
one of the original members who couldn’t make
a tour. It was a couple of years later that I joined
the band full time and have been gigging and
touring with them ever since.
I’ve also released two solo albums, which I’ve
gigged, and I invited several guest musicians
to join me on both of these. My most recent
album, Sròmos, is made up of entirely self
composed tunes. I also play with a relatively
new 10 piece highland pipers composers group
called Tryst. Everyone in the band has a shared
passion for playing pipes and writing new pipe
What goals do you have for next year?
I just want to keep on playing music and writing
tunes. I’d also like to learn more ceòl mor and
I’d be keen to compete at the Silver medal at
next year’s Argyllshire Gathering and Northern
Meeting piping competitions. Perhaps I’ll also
make another solo album.
Do you compete in solos?
in solo competitions after a hiatus of about
seven years. I used to compete lots as a junior
(under 18) and then my focus shifted away from
competing and more towards learning other
instruments, playing with other musicians and
writing tunes. I really enjoyed competing again
this year and getting out and about to play at
lots of Highland games this summer was really
enjoyable. I think the fact that the weather this
summer in Scotland was unusually warm and
dry made this an even better experience! I
particularly enjoyed playing in the piobaireachd
section of the competitions again. I enjoyed
the focus of relearning and practicing three of
my favourite tunes and found it very rewarding
playing full piobaireachd when the pipes were
memory were all working! I even picked up
quite a few prizes a long the way which helped
pay for my travel and accommodation. I have
actually just applied to the Competing Pipers
that fairly soon I’d imagine.
Who would you most like to have a lesson
If I could have a lesson with anyone, and also
time travel, I would have loved to have learnt
from the late great PM Donald Macleod. I
listen to his piobaireachd tutorial CDs on long
of his character from the commentary. I realise
I’m being slightly biased as he was also from the
Isle of Lewis.