Sunday 16 June 2024

Jimi's successful mini Highland tour.

 Jimi has completed a mini musical tour of the Scottish Highlands - on his motorcycle.

The week-long tour, which saw Jimi play to audiences in Dufftown, Abriachan and the NW Highlands, culminated in a performance at the wedding of Tomas and Jennifer Gaine in Gairloch.

"Big congratulations to Tom and Jen for getting married" he said. "It was a special occasion in a beautiful location and a great honour to be asked to pipe at the ceremony."

Smaller, impromptu performances for friends and fans before and after the wedding allowed Jimi to debut new material live and experiment with different techniques for developing his show.

He said:"I was performing both big and small pipe sets, trying out new ideas including using my voice and generally looking at ways to expand the potential of my live-set".

He added: "It is always an honour to be invited to perform in the Highlands and sound the Piob Mhor - the big pipes or Great Highland Bagpipe as the instrument is officially known. However in recent years I've been experimenting more with poetry and song, as regular visitors to this blog will know.

"This was the first time I deliberately set out to present and perform some of these ideas live. It was very heartening and encouraging to receive such a positive reaction, especially from audiences in the Highlands - the spiritual home of Scottish bagpipe music."

Jimi was pleased with the reception to his new music and added: "A common question put to me was 'why weren't you doing this years ago?' My reply was 'No idea'! I suppose I had nothing to say via spoken words creatively in music. Perhaps I was preoccupied with my fingers doing the talking. Maybe I've only recently found my voice, literally".

Jimi hopes to be back in the Highlands for more performances later this summer. In the meantime he has a diary full of engagements to keep him busy, including a visit to Marrakesh, Morocco in mid-July.

As a footnote, Jimi was delighted to complete his 1000 mile + Highland adventure on his motorbike - a 2006 Suzuki GSF 1200 Bandit. "This was her first serious ride-out after a major winter rebuild by myself" he added. "I was happy and satisfied with her performance - she never missed a beat".
































Sunday 26 May 2024

'On Ladhope Brig' - An original song dedicated to McRae's home town, Galashiels.

 


 Jimi has officially released a new song dedicated to his home town of Galashiels.

'On Ladhope Brig' is a song about industrial decline, the demise of the UK textile industry and the impact on communities like Galashiels - The town was once home to some of the biggest brands in international fashion manufacturing. 

Music was composed by Jimi. The words were written by his late father, Kenny. 

 Stream or download via your favourite music site here:https://emubands.ffm.to/onladhopebrig


 

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Jimi joins international gathering of musicians, artists, academics and historians at second Anti-Fascist Festival of Music and Culture in Samara.

 





 

Jimi was honoured to be invited to perform at the second consecutive Anti-Fascist Festival of Music and Culture in the beautiful city of Samara on the banks of the Volga River.

Jimi participated in the inaugural festival last year. This year he was joined by artists and acts from Italy, China, Finland, Serbia, Slovenia Columbia, Montenegro and Russia at the five day festival held in the run-up to VE anniversary commemorations and celebrations on May 8/9.

Jimi and his fellow performers took the stage at over 20 different packed concert halls across the Samara region before joining together for a sell out festival finale in the city's massive ice-hockey arena, headlined by Russian singer and songwriting star 'Shaman'.

Jimi said: "The festival was all about remembering and honouring the millions of people from many countries who fought and, in many cases, gave their lives in the struggle to free Europe from the Nazis in WW2.

"It was great to be back in Samara performing for and alongside many good friends. It was also important, I think, to show solidarity with ordinary Russian people following the terrible recent terrorist attack at the live concert in Moscow. All the shows were packed out with huge appreciative audiences. It was a great privilege to be asked to play a part".

This year's festival also included a conference attended by distinguished academics and historians from many countries including Canada, the UK, Finland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Montenegro and Russia.  Jimi was very humbled to be invited to attend a special conference round table event and give a talk about his recent blogs which revealed that a monument bearing the insignia of a WW2 Nazi Waffen SS volunteer unit - men who swore an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler - was standing in Scotland. 

Jimi's talk, which included a slide-show, was very well received.

"I was quite nervous beforehand" added Jimi. "I love history, always have, but academic presentations before some of the most knowledgeable living writers on WW2 and Nazi history is another level entirely.

"Fortunately my presentation seemed to go down well. I talked about my revulsion and shame at the discovery that a Nazi monument was standing in my home country. How these men, over 500 of them in Scotland and thousands more throughout the western world, had been allowed to settle and live out their lives without fear of prosecution. I mentioned my dismay at the uncritical reaction from the UK media when it was announced that over £50,000 of UK taxpayers' money had been allocated to upgrade the site. 

"I then went on to talk about the extremely encouraging reaction to my blogs - 20,000 hits and counting, many interesting comments posted and scores of personal messages of support from people in the UK and throughout the world. I talked of my plan to launch a petition calling for the removal of all Nazi insignia at the site and the need to modify sign-posts and a notice board to include details of the crimes against humanity committed by men serving in this particular SS Division".  

Jimi told the conference how, in March of this year, a stone monument bearing the insignia of the same Nazi SS Division had been removed from a private cemetery in Ontario, Canada after a long campaign by ordinary Canadians and the North American branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies. Full story here: https://www.oakvillenews.org/local-news/oakville-monument-honouring-nazi-collaborators-removed-8474982

"I found this news really encouraging" added Jimi. "It shows what can be achieved when a proper public campaign is mounted against the presence of these alien, Nazi objects in our landscapes.

"Slaughtering civilians in cold blood; locking women, children and whole village communities in barns before burning them alive; atrocities like these have long been linked to the men 'honoured' by these particular monuments. How can we call ourselves civilized societies if we allow abominations glorifying women and children killers to stand in our landscapes? "

 Jimi added that numerous investigations by several countries and human rights institutions over many years had proven conclusively that murderous criminal acts were carried out by men serving in this particular SS unit.

"Monuments glorifying Nazi SS veterans would never be tolerated in modern Germany" said Jimi. "Why should we accept it in countries like Canada and the UK where so many of our grandparents/close ancestors fought to defeat the Nazi scourge in Europe."

Jimi said he hoped to reach out to 'like-minded citizens' from across the UK, Canada and also the USA when he launched the campaign. More details to be published here soon.

Jimi's first blog on the SS monument in Scotland can be read here: http://www.jimithepiper.co.uk/2023/12/waffen-ss-ww2-memorial-standing-proud.html  

The second, in response to UK media criticism of his decision to perform at music festivals in Russia can be found here: http://www.jimithepiper.co.uk/2024/01/international-condemnation-to-adolf.html

Jimi added: "I must say for the record that, to the very best of my knowledge, neither newspaper which carried articles attacking me - the 'Scottish Sunday Times' nor the 'Scottish Daily Express'-  made any attempt to contact me for a comment before running their stories. Sad times indeed."

More pictures from the festival and Samara below -




















Friday 26 April 2024

Second official release of 2024 - By popular demand it's 'Black Jack Davy'.

Jimi's second official release of 2024 - by popular demand it's a stream/downloadable mix of 'Black Jack Davy'.
Click on the link here https://emubands.ffm.to/blackjackdavy for a free sample, or, stream and download at your preferred music service. (options in link)
 

                                                            
Watch on Youtube:
 


For a free 'Black Jack Davy' listen or to stream/download please click here:  https://emubands.ffm.to/blackjackdavy

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!