Tuesday 19 March 2024

Murder Pool - New Song and Video from Scotland.


Murder Pool is a song written by Jimi McRae and Scottish guitarist Neil Warden. 

It can be downloaded or streamed via your favourite music site by clicking this link: https://emubands.ffm.to/murderpool 

 Murder Pool is the first release from a new eight song project by Jimi and Neil which follows on from McRae's well received 2022 six track EP 'The Hills Where I Began'. The new releases will see McRae exploring little discussed, stark, dark and often quite horrific periods and episodes from Scottish history, in this case the barbaric practice of murder or drowning pools.

 In an article entitled 'The dark history of Scotland's drowning pools' dated April 2016 'The Scotsman' newspaper writes: “The threat of execution was one of the primary tools of law enforcement in early medieval Europe, and it was no different in Scotland. One example is the use of so-called drowning pools, also known as drowning pits or murder-pools. 

“Their use was self-explanatory. But what made them unique was they were traditionally reserved for women." The article continues: “Feudal Scotland had no central government that we would recognise today. Royal authority was a distant concept. Local landowners held immense power and were expected to dispense justice as they saw fit. Why women were drowned and men hanged cannot be definitively explained. One theory is that it was viewed as less violent death, and considered an act of leniency”. 

However, men too were on occasion sentenced to drown. Rope was expensive after all. 

Sir Walter Scott recorded in 1815 that Border reivers of earlier centuries, who raided farms and property in both Scotland and England, were traditionally sentenced to be hanged or drowned, depending on the locality. He wrote many were drowned “in a deep eddy of the Jed, near Jedburgh,” adding that “the next tree, or the deepest pool in the nearest stream, was indifferently used.” 

 One such known 'murder pool' featuring in this music video (42 secs, and again at 3mins 5 secs) is located in the Scottish Borders town of Hawick, where the Slitrig water runs into the River Teviot. In an article entitled 'Rough Justice for the Reivers' author David Pike writes: “Here, where nature has cut a little deeper into the natural landscape, you will find the town’s infamous drowning pool or murder pool, depending which side of the law you were on. 

"In July of 1562 some 22 Border Reivers met a watery end in the ‘pool.’ The Reivers were in the habit of bringing their ill-gotten gains to Hawick market but on this occasion Walter Kerr, Warden of Scotland was one step ahead. 

"Acting on the authority of the recently crowned Mary Queen of Scots he sealed off the town and captured dozens of Reivers. Those on the lower rungs of the social pecking order had their hands bound and were executed at the pool, their bodies held underwater by lances. Their leaders were afforded the courtesy of a trip to Edinburgh and a ‘gentleman’s’ death by hanging.” 

Drownings like this were carried out until the late 17th century across Scotland as a punishment for a variety of crimes. The Scotsman newspaper states: "In 1611, an Edinburgh man was drowned for stealing a lamb, and in 1623, eleven gypsy women were recorded as being drowned in the city’s Nor Loch. In 1679, a woman named Janet Grant was tried for theft in the baronial court of Sir Robert Gordon of Gordonston. She was found guilty and drowned the next day in the Loch of Spynie." The Scotsman adds: "There are no records of drowning being used as a capital punishment after 1685. The practice survived in France until at least 1793."

Friday 1 March 2024

A busy start to 2024 for Jimi. New poetry and piping releases planned.

Making the most of a decent, late winter sunny morning, Jimi was out filming scenes for a new music video on the banks of the River Almond near Cramond, NW Edinburgh.
The song is one of eight, still to be released, original 'poetry orientated' tracks composed with guitarist and sometimes songwriting partner Neil Warden.
The new release will be a follow up to Jimi's 2022 six track EP 'Hills Where I Began' which saw Jimi moving in a more lyrical direction than on previous bagpipe driven, studio recordings.
'Hills Where I Began' received favourable reviews in the UK, Ireland, USA and Australia upon its release. Anyone interested can refer to the 'Reviews' section of this web-site for more details.
It has been a very busy start to 2024 for Jimi musically at home and overseas. He has been piping at prestigious engagements in Scotland every weekend since his return from Russia in early February.
He is back out performing live at a VIP reception at premises in the Cowgate district of Edinburgh this Saturday. (March 2)

Recording offers are also being discussed following the announcement of Jimi's successful 'home recorded' musical collaboration with Italian singer Luca Minnelli and his producer Stefano Panizzo.
"I've been approached by several friends in the music business who are interested in the possiblity of me piping on their songs" said Jimi. "Probably the most exciting of these is a query from a well known songwriter and producer based in Austin, Texas."

Jimi is also hoping to record several new, original and popular pipe tunes which feature in his live show.
"The tunes always go down well with audiences so it makes sense to have them available for people to stream or download"he added.
"I have been quite humbled by the number of booking requests for me to pipe at events here in Scotland since I returned from my latest musical mission overseas. I have been piping as a solo performer for over 30 years now. I'm self employed so any musical income is always included in my annual tax return. However, I honestly cannae remember a time when my piping services were in such demand. Quite extraordinary. Long may it continue."

Anyone interested in booking Jimi or finding out more about his many projects can email him direct at mcraejimi@gmail.com
Here's a few pics from Jimi's video shoot beside the River Almond. Hope you enjoy. Slainte!


Monday 12 February 2024

New recording project with top Italian music producer and singer


Jimi has embarked on a new recording project. He is composing, arranging and rehearsing bagpipe parts for a popular classical music album being put together by celebrated Venice based composer/producer/song-writer Stefano Panizzo and famous Italian tenor singer Luca Minnelli.
Luca and Jimi met and became friends during a tour of the Ryazan and Pskov regions of Russia last November. Luca is a popular performer on the lucrative private function international circuit and sings to sell out audiences everywhere. 
As a side project to his own work Luca is currently recording a second album for Queen guitarist Brian May, no less!
Stefano is one of the most sought after composers/producers/score arrangers in the popular classical music world. Google or do an internet search for Stefano Panizzo for more info.
Jimi began rehearsing his parts mid- January after being approached by Luca, Steffano and Venice based business associates. In early February Luca and Jimi debuted their first pieces of music together live, before a sell out audience, with full orchestral backing in Omsk Philharmonic Concert hall, Siberia. They received two standing ovations.

"We have some excellent video footage of the concert but Luca has asked me to hold off from sharing it until the new album is officially released, probably this coming May" said Jimi. 
"It is still very much a case of work in progress. Stefano is still fine tuning the arrangements and also working on several new songs to which he is keen for me to contribute".
 Luca said he was impressed by Jimi's live act plus the power and tone of his pipes. Jimi's pipes are tuned to 440 Htz, concert pitch A major.
Most Highland pipes (probably over 99 per cent) from novice to World championship level, are tuned to the key of B flat.

Jimi said he was enjoying working with Luca. "He's a great guy with a great voice and a healthy love of most musical genres.
 "We're about the same age and share the the same sort of unpretentious, working background. He likes a laugh and can also relate to my former busking days in Edinburgh and around Scotland. He worked as a singing gondalier for tourists visiting Venice for several years. Luca's team have big plans for us. Let's see what happens".

More pics from the recent sell out concert in Omsk.


Thursday 8 February 2024

Jimi back from latest concert tour of Russia.

Jimi has returned from his latest concert tour of Russia.

This trip included a visit to and performance at Russia's first Malt Whisky distillery near the city of Saransk, the capital of the Republic of Mordovia. (located one-and-a-half hour flight time SE of Moscow)

Jimi was also on duty as a piper and top table speaker at the Caledonian Society of Moscow's annual 'Burns Supper' on the anniversary of the birth of famous Scottish bard, Robbie Burns. The evening doubled as a tribute to the great Russian scholar and friend of Scotland, Dimitry Fedosov who sadly passed away after a short illness at the New Year. 

Dimitry was a leading light in the Caledonian Society of Moscow for many years. He leaves behind a collection of acclaimed scholary and highly readable academic work detailing the many Scots who played important roles in shaping Tsarist Russian history, including 'soldier of fortune' Patrick Gordon from Aberdeenshire who became right hand man and military advisor to Peter the Great. 

Jimi took the floor to entertain guests with a selection of stirring Scottish tunes on his bagpipes. He performed the traditional 'address to the haggis', (translated into Russian for the audience by Vitaly Mironov) and also joined well known Moscow band Grenada on stage for a rendition of 'Auld Lang Syne', 'Whisky in the Jar' and 'Flower O' Scotland'. Video footage of Jimi and Grenada performing the latter can be viewed here:

Jimi then headed to the city of Omsk in Siberia where he teamed up with popular Italian classical singer, 'the Voice of Venice' himself - Luca Minnelli, Chinese Soprano Ding Yao and Chinese pop star Wang Hao for a week long series of concerts to mark the finale of the 'Workers and Musicians Solidarity Against the Cancellation of Russian Culture' festival. The festival had been running since the start of November with sold out concerts in Ryazan Oblast, Pskov, Moscow, Samara, Pskov Oblast and Kaliningrad.

Jimi said the concerts in Omsk and surrounding area were huge successes with local folk musicians, classical singers and the Omsk Philharmonic Orchestra participating and contributing to the success. "I'd also like to thank the organisers who worked so hard to ensure everything ran smoothly" added Jimi. 

Here's a video of Luca performing two well known and much loved Italian songs with a traditional Siberian folk ensemble during a particularly memorable performance.

Jimi joined Luca on stage for a stunning rendition of the classic song 'Moscow Nights'. Luca is currently recording a new album and he hopes to have Jimi piping on several songs. "He's a great guy. We get on very well" added Jimi.

Check out the pics below from just some of the Omsk performances. Salute!


Saturday 27 January 2024

International condemnation to Adolf Hitler Waffen SS memorial standing in Scotland - but still the UK media remain silent.

SS supremo and Adolf Hitler's right hand man Heinrich Himmler inspects Ukrainian speaking volunteers of the SS Galizien Division in 1944. Himmler publicly praised the volunteers for their enthusiasm in slaughtering Polish and Jewish civilians. Men of the SS Galizien were never made to answer for their crimes. After surrendering to the British at the end of WW2 they were granted sanctuary in the west. Almost 500 were sent to a work camp at Hallmuir near Lockerbie before being allowed to assimilate into Scottish/UK society. 
The memorial stone at Hallmuir, near Lockerbie,bearing the insignia of Hitler's notorious Waffen SS 'Galizien' division. 

Jimi's blog last month revealing that a memorial stone commemorating WW2 Nazis accused of being 'women and children killers' is standing near the town of Lockerbie, Scotland has sparked international outrage. 

The fact that the Scottish Government, via a quango organisation called the South of Scotland Enterprise Board, decided to invest over £50,000 of taxpayers money to upgrade and help promote the site, where the SS regimental insignia is clearly on display,  has predictably added to the furor. 

The Waffen SS were the notorious military arm of the German Nazi party during WW2. They were hailed by Nazi leaders as the living embodiment of Hitler's genocidal, racist and evil ideology. 

Despite the widespread condemnation - over 15000 blog views in less than a month, comments posted by concerned citizens from around the world and personal messages to Jimi - the revelations contained in the blog have, so far, received no media attention.

The blog can be viewed by clicking here: http://www.jimithepiper.co.uk/2023/12/waffen-ss-ww2-memorial-standing-proud.html?m=1

Jimi said he was unsurprised by the reaction to his blog because it contained "shocking information which any decent person would find appalling." However, he added he was surprised and disappointed by the apparent refusal of "official media representatives" to pick up on the revelations and run with the story.

"My LinkedIn profile tells me about everybody who has been looking at my posts" said Jimi. "I shared this particular blog on LinkedIn and in due course I was informed that people at the BBC had viewed it three times, someone at the 'Glasgow Herald' newspaper offices and also a representative of 'The Times'

"Despite this nobody picked up the story. I'm not seeking acclaim. I just ask for journalists to do their job. I waited 18 months for someone to write this story after reading an uncritical newspaper article about the Scottish Government's decision to grant funding. Finally I gave up and wrote it myself".

Jimi has been in the 'news' himself over the past few months for his decision to perform at festivals and concerts in Russia with his bagpipes. Articles attacking him have appeared in the 'Sunday Times' and 'Scottish Daily Express'.

"Basically it appears that a guy from Scotland going to Russia with his bagpipes in an effort to promote peace, understanding and friendship between ordinary people is more newsworthy, at least to our media, than the Scottish Government providing a considerable sum of public money to promote a monument celebrating Nazi volunteers who stand accused by both Ukrainian and Polish investigative committees of committing mass murder and genocide, mainly of women and children."

Jimi added:" I dislike talking politics but if you want my views on the ongoing Ukraine tragedy please listen to the words of current American Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr in the link below. He is a highly educated, skilled lawyer and says things more eloquently than I ever could. He also comes from a distinguished line of good, decent and brave men - decorated warriors among them - who did their best to secure peace and a better future for all our children and grandchildren. God knows we need more like him in our politics and media today. Peace! "


Monday 15 January 2024

Musical Road trip, NW Russia - Jimi and 'LiberArte', Nicaragua perform Moscow to Pskov.

New music video, from the "Strength in Unity", Workers' Solidarity with Russian Cultur tour.

Jimi and friends - the multi talented 'LiberArte' from Nicaragua - make a musical journey from Moscow to Pskov, with a performance in the former home of celebrated Russian poet Alexander Pushkin along the way.

The tour included over 20 shows and also included visits to the Samara and Kaliningrad Oblasts as well as Moscow. 

Performing artists from Russia and Italy joined 'LiberArte' and Jimi for the concerts in Kaliningrad and Samara.


Monday 11 December 2023

New digital release for Russia

Jimi has released a digital album for his growing Russian audience.

Entitled "Alive in Russia", it features some new tracks and a specially chosen selection of music from his extensive back catalogue.

New tracks include a rocking version of the Russian classic 'Song of the Plains' (Poliushko Polie) - see youtube link below.

Jimi has not had time to upload the new album onto any 'western' music sites yet but promises it will be available to download via his 'Bandcamp' page sometime early in the New Year.

Jimi is already including several classic Russian as well as Scottish songs in his live set.

'Alive in Russia' can be found here: https://music.yandex.ru/album/27906623

 and here:  https://zvuk.com/release/31708295?action_name=open-release&is_retargeting=true&c=bandlink_1&pid=Bandlink&id=31708295&af_click_lookback=7 

Jimi's version of 'Song of the Plains' (Poliushko Polie) can be also be listened to here:


A live, unedited and uncut video of Jimi performing Russian songs on his Scottish bagpipes to an appreciative Russian audience can be viewed here:


 Slainte Mhor!