Check out our new Interactive Route Map (button in menu above). After a month in the Smokies, three months chasing the sun and birds in Florida, we’re embarking on a more ambitious trip. This time we plan to cross the US, Canada via a Northerly route, picking up a headboard from our van manufacturer, Read More
We contacted the Pacific North West Northumbrian Smallpipes (NSPs) Group (yes there really is one, and a very active one) to see if we could attend their monthly meeting near Tacoma, WA. We received a return email from one of their members living in Bellingham, Peter Dyson, who no longer makes the long monthly drive South, but is still musically active. Peter has temporarily suspended his pipe playing in favor of the concertina due to a shoulder injury. He very kindly invited us for a music session at his home in the countryside, outside Bellingham, and invited two of his musician friends to join us. We had a great time playing together, meeting and talking with new friends. Here are some short clips from our session.
Peter Dyson: Concertina; Rachel Vogel: Fiddle; Michael Baker: Guitar; Cheryl: Flute; Colin: NSP.
Aln Water – Margaret Watchorn (harmony, Michael Korchonnoff)
Shingly Beach – Tom Anderson (harmony, Abby Newton)
Brafferton Village – Kathryn Tickell (harmony Derek Hobbs)
We gratefully accepted the invitation to join the group of Northumbrian Smallpipe players, a week later, that meets every month at the home of Paul and Ruth Anne Hickey in Lakewood, Washington. We had heard many stories about the group over the years and were not disappointed to meet the faces behind the names. The group was formed around the leadership of Gail Gibbard, and has been meeting monthly since 1998. This area has by far the greatest concentration of active NSP players in the US. We played all afternoon and enjoyed ourselves immensely. For anyone brave enough to want to know what a multitude of Northumbrian Smallpipes sounds like, here’s a short clip, one of the tunes we played.
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Playing with fellow NSP players near Seattle
Showing us a beautiful blue sky from the Space Needle, Seattle was magnificent from 500 ft. up in the air. We followed this with a street level tour and found many fun places to go and observe. Pike Place Market (see below) was truly candy for the eye, and we spent a fun time at the Experience Music Project Museum (see below). Many of the newest and tallest of Seattle’s skyscrapers are covered in glass, creating some interesting cityscape reflections. Leaving the Space Needle we enjoyed listening to a Panpipe player and his band from South America (movie below).
The crowds were such that we were walking shoulder to shoulder and being carried to the next stall. It was difficult to stop and linger over some of the exquisite displays, the people all wanting to purchase, take pictures, and stand with their favorite fish or vegetable! The seafood on display was particularly memorable. Colors, smells, and fragrances attacked and overwhelmed our senses at every turn. We visited a cheese factory, decided not to queue for access to the original Starbucks and stopped for a quick bite at a local eatery with a view over Puget Sound. Cheryl found a very strange and profound poster in the woman’s bathroom! (see gallery below)
Seattle’s EMP Museum was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000, dedicated to contemporary music and pop culture. We found it fun and interesting, giving us ‘double-takes’ at the artwork to make us sure of what we were seeing and experiencing. Besides a Star Trek gallery, there was the guitar pillar which played music, a room as if you were in an electronic game, and amazing ‘Wearable Art’ clothing displays out of many unusual materials. Colin enjoyed the Jimmy Hendricks gallery about his European tour. It brought back memories of listening to ‘Purple Haze’ in a small marquee at his college May Ball. Experiencing the Hendrix sound a few feet from the band, he can still feel his ears ringing. We listened, saw movies, found references to his England trip, and saw paraphernalia from the band’s traveling days. No less of an influence on both our generations, here was the original Easy Rider motorcycle that Peter Fonda rode in the movie of the same name. (Other inspiration for our road travel have been the well known: Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, and particularly for Colin, Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America which he listened to every week on the radio as a boy.)
Quichua Machis playing near Seattle’s Space Needle
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