Southern California Tionól
25, 26 & 27 October
2002 SCUPC Tionól with Robbie HannanThe Southern California Uilleann Pipers Club can now officially say that we have had our first full blown Tionól and what a tionól it turned out to be! We have had events before with fabulous pipers who, luckily for us, were in close proximity to our location but this is the first time we've flown in a piper from Ireland and held a concert in a public venue. Taking place over the weekend of 25, 26 & 27 of October, It worked out very well and provided both an educational and enjoyable environment for all the piping psycho's in attendance... including the organizers!

I picked up Robbie and Larry at Larry's house on Friday afternoon to take the drive to the picturesque San Juan Capistrano (SJC). Larry had graciously picked up Robbie at LAX on Thursday and himself and Larry's wife Linda had three freshly smoked salmon ready for dinner, what a taste! Needless to say there was a LOT left over, which they had intended, and these "leftovers" were ideal for feasting on over the course of the weekend. I think Saturday lunchtime was their lifespan, a testament to their tastiness. Of course when one is in the old Mexican province of Alta California one has to dine on native delicacies such as tacos! A great little spot called "Pedro's Taco's" exists in SJC so we though we'd drop off our gear at the McKeagney's and head off for this delicacy only three miles from their house. Robbie enjoyed them at the time but rumour has it he was singing that great Johnny Cash song "Ring of Fire" later in the day.... okay I get it...... T.M.I.!

That afternoon we thought it a good idea to have the organizers and a few others attend classes in preparation for the throngs that would be descending on the house the following day. We had a great class with Robbie sharing some really interesting perspectives on the tune "Clancy's Fancy" reel, a tune he got from Seán Donnelly.

Things officially kicked off on Friday evening with a party at the home, once again, of Gabriel, Eileen, Brian & Terese McKeagney. A great deal of thanks to them for opening their doors once more to the piping masses, particularly now with a new baby in the house! I think they are the most passive kids I've ever come across, they seemed to enjoy the weekend as much as the rest of us. Just think of what their childhood memories will be.... may God help them. At this point Larry Dunn was in full flight, scanning the attendees for unpaid fees and outdated dues. We all know how awkward it can be to tackle this issue but Larry does it with such an air that people hand over gladly, some even adding to the pot... something which is very much appreciated securing future events and club activity. Thanks to Larry for doing such a fine job.

We had a great evening with Robbie playing plenty of tunes for us on both his Kenna set and my Geoff Wooff set. When Robbie felt he had sweated enough it was the turn of the locals to keep up the pace, not an easy task as Robbie was playing great! At around this point things begin to get hazy....

The following morning everyone was up, on time and in surprisingly good form after the previous nights antics. The classes went in the following order: intermediate, beginners and advanced to try to accommodate a person who ended up not being able to attend, he had a very good excuse mind you. He ruptured a disc in his back and instead of flying to California to see us spent the weekend in bed on morphine! I certainly know where I would have preferred to be.... no jokes please this is serious stuff ;) Robbie taught the wonderful tune An Sean Bhean Bhocht to the class I attended on Saturday.

Saturday continued on with jokes and piping until the classes ended. Food update, for lunch Eric Olson volunteered to order a few pizzas that went over very well. A few others, myself included, decided to visit Pedro once more, them's some tasty taco's! Later in the day after a good dinner of "El Pollo Loco" chicken headed over to The San Juan Capistrano Library for the sound check. This all went very smoothly and with Victor Fitzsimmons in tow we knew we wouldn't be bored... howaya Victor? At this point I am reminded that Victor Fitzsimmons was single handedly responsible for getting sponsorship from Guinness, this is no small feat achieved skillfully and with unusual style. Great thanks is due to Victor for getting this great stock of Guinness, Harp, Bass and Smirnoff Ice... well done!

The SJC Library does a series of world music concerts each year with one evening dedicated to Irish music. Last year Danú took the stage. This year we were greatly honoured to give it a go ourselves. It worked out very well indeed. The library doesn't sell tickets prior to the show so we had no clue what the turn out would be. What a relief when we saw the crowd before the first concert! It was standing room only! We were set up for a great night. They have one hour concerts which means twice as many people can attend, which is good for everyone. A veritable "band of gypsies" took the stage to start. I had hustled together a few friends at last minutes notice to play some tunes as an opening act, thanks be to goodness we all made it over the finish line together after each tune, it was great fun and hopefully we'll be able to do it again soon. At that point I introduced Robbie who swooped in to take the pipers chair... and all the microphones that come along with it! We sat in awe as he went through some of his repertoire with his signature style, the crowd were mesmerized along with the rest of us. At the end of his set he called up what has become known as "Charlie's Band" for a grand finalé. It worked out well with us driving through The Fermoy Lasses and The Bucks. The crowd wanted more and so who were we to deny them? We went up again with Robbie to play The Mountain Road and The Crooked Road to Dublin, what a high I was on.... I'm still coming down. During the second concert we were delighted by the sean nůs singing of Lillis Ó Laoire from Donegal between the first and second acts. His participation was a wonderful addition and I have to thank him now for singing that evening.

After the concert we had arranged for the library to allow whoever wanted to to hang around and play a few tunes. This took place and I'm glad it did. It gave some members of the public a chance to have a closer look at our instruments and it gave us all a place to socialise and play some music without having to worry about juke box's playing in the background. It appeared that a great night was had by all.

Sunday I was resting peacefully until I heard a ominous voice in my head saying "Get Up... what time do you call this? This is no place to be!" etc... I was glad to see that it was Ted Anderson rousing me, a scary enough sight at that time of day but I was relieved to see that it wasn't the Grimm Reaper beckoning me! Ted kept me there filling my head with history of reed collectors in California who sent cane over to Ireland, great stuff if only I could remember it?! Can you remind me Ted?

We spent Sunday taking it fairly easy. Michael O'Donovan and Ted Anderson assumed positions in the garage once more and worked their black art while the rest of us had the odd tune and bid farewell to Wally & Linda. Robbie rounded off the day with some fabulous tunes on Larry Dunn's new (to him) B set by Peter Hunter. A really lovely set and Robbie made it sing! Another food update, the fair Eileen ordered a round of Chinese food that was well appreciated. Delivery food worked out perfectly this weekend with everyone pitching in what they could.

Now, I think I have everything covered :) This certainly ended up a word or twelve longer than I expected. Thanks to everyone that put in so much effort to get the weekend working right. We all agree now that the club is confident enough to host a tionól on an annual basis. If we can repeat this past weekends success the piping community in Southern California will go from strength to strength for years to come... here's to it!

This is the Friday class which was unscheduled. The idea was to have a quiet class for the organizers but it became one of the biggest classes of the weekend.... there's just no nice way to say no is there ;)
We were delighted to have Wally & Linda Charm with us for the weekend. Here we have David Coultrup showing Wally some of the sets he has made.
Here we have Robbie getting his pipes acclimated to the Southern Californian weather. Luckily that weekend's weather was very mild, cloudy and the odd bit of drizzle, that was the first rain since April I heard someone say! Good timing for the pipes, there were no problems out of the ordinary and his set sounded wonderful.
I was interested in hearing Robbie play some tunes on my Geoff Wooff B set. Unfortunately we couldn't play together as his own set is quite sharp of B. Got some nice recordings of him playing away... now to incorporate all those techniques he showed us in the class!
The Friday night session kicked off to a good start with Richard Cook on flute, Linda Charm on banjo, Wally Charm on pipes and Michael Eskin on whistle.

Saturday morning started with the intermediate class. Dave Collins from Costa Mesa, Steve Prybil from Los Angeles, Joseph from Bakersfield, Caven Clark from Phoenix, Arizona, Tom Wolverton from Santa Barbara and Dave Riddles from Eagle Rock attended. I have to mention that Dave Riddles made a few T-Shirts for the N.F.C.S.C.U.P.C. The Northern Flying Column Southern California Uilleann Pipers Club a group of renegade pipers living in the further reaches north of the usual club meetings. These t-shirts are fine examples of post modern impressionistic animated art, well done Dave! You may remember Dave also made the cartoon of my wedding night :)

Michael O'Donovan took the chair as reed maker for the day. Everyone really appreciates Michael's reedmaking affliction, visiting pipers are always amazed that we can all sit and play together in relative painlessness... pitch wise of course :) Eric Olson was also here from Colorado, I am still blown away that he can get his pipes to work in such high climbs! Wally Charm, Matthew Schibler of Brentwood and Eileen Clark from Phoenix, Arizona are seen in the other photos.
Gabriel just acquired a really wonderful sharpening wheel for his business. David Coultrup saw this and decided to take full advantage of this fortunate situation. He must have sharpened ten or more gouges of varying types that morning!
Michael Eskin of San Diego and Richard Cook of Anaheim (?) discussing chanters and the like.... you get the idea :)
After a brief break Robbie was back in the thick of it with the beginners class. Here we have Eileen, Joseph, Matthew, Steve Farrell of Los Angeles and Jeff Hurwitt of Santa Monica sitting in.
John Touhey attended which I was delighted to see. Wally was really pleased to meet him and see David Pages set of Kennedy pipes in the flesh. John was a student of David's and David was a student of Leo Rowsome.
Ted & Janaka Anderson showed up for a spell also. It's always great to see him and great stories and history abounded.
David Coultrup did a pipe making workshop. He brought a lathe and demonstrated how to turn a chanter, very interesting!
Here's Gabriel, Robbie and Larry taking a well deserved break, however brief.
Here Michael O'Donovan is trying to get Matt's Tim Britton chanter going while Wally and Ted discuss a very important topic.
Robbie takes the stage at The San Juan Capistrano Library. There were two short concerts at the library, this is how they do things. This photos is from the first concert.
Lillis Ó Laoire graced the stage with his good humour and wonderful sean nós songs. Lillis sang between "Charlie's Band" and Robbie in the second concert.
Now Robbie Returns for the second concert with a new list of tunes and nicely warmed up from the earlier show.
Sunday morning came around all too quick. Robbie & Wally sit down for a pleasant chat and to soak up some vitamin D before Wally hit the road.

Gabriel had to return to the library to collect the van from the night before which carried a lot of our "supplies". On a detour he brought us down to Dana Point to share a bit of the local surroundings with us. It's a lovely spot. Here Gaby, Brian and Robbie examine the condition of the cane growing on the road side. Then it was down to the docks where we saw some beautiful boats. A friend of Gaby's has beautiful marlin fishing boat down there and luckily enough he was there to greet us, there's Robbie at the helm, suits him doesn't it? :)
Here's Robbie later on Sunday playing Larry Dunn's Peter Hunter B set. Great stuff altogether!
The raggle taggle bunch... more below......
Fiddler extradinaire Katy Salvidge sent me this photo. Katy played with "Charlie's Band" this night.
These following seven photos were taken by Larry & Linda Dunn. Here is the group photo. Unfortunately we forgot to take one on Saturday, as you'll see below there were a lot more people in attendance and I'll name them wherever possible.
I gathered a few friends together with some other people and played as an opening act. We had about 15 minutes before the show to figure out what we would play. Thank goodness we came up with some tunes that we all know (sort of) and I've been told that we gave a convincing show. Thanks a million to Charlie Ke"ll"y, Rob "ZX" Sinclair, Barry "Ybarra" Fisher and Katy "Ya Good Thing" Salvidge for playing with me and making the night a great experience. We have to do it again soon! What name did we finalise on? Was it "Charlie's Band" or "Charlie's Angels"? ;)
Then it was time to get down to business. Robbie took the stage and in fine form proceeded to dazzle the audience with his pyrotechnic playing. There were more than a few "Oohs" and "Aahs" I can tell you!

After Robbie's set he called "Charlie's Band" band up for a 'grand finale' finish. We assumed positions and gave "The Fermoy Lasses" and "The Buck's of Oranmore" a lash. We tried to call it a night at that point only to be hailed back for one more. This time we played "The Mountain Road" and "The Crooked Road"... No major casualties were inflicted and we went on to have a great evening afterwards high on the music and the strong attendance at the concerts.
We had prearranged with the library that after the concert we could use the space for a session. It worked out very nicely.
I was delighted to see Ted Anderson came along for the weekend. His presence is always a great boon to any piping event with his well of historical knowledge and good craic. He played some beautiful tunes for us on his Zampogna, one of Italy's great bagpipes. The Zampogna hails from Sicily and has wonderfully harmonious tone to it.

As you may have seen earlier in the site, SCUPC Treasurer Larry Dunn got his hands on a particularly nice set of Peter Hunter B pipes. Larry asked Robbie to play a couple of tunes on them to see what he thought of them. Let me put it this way.... Larry had a job getting the set back ;)
   Larry & Linda took some snippet's of video with their digital camera. Here are five files from them. PS: these files are quite large (3.5M) so if you are on a slow connection (<DSL) you may want to make yourself a cup of tea while they download.
  1. Ted Anderson playing his Italian Zampogna.
  2. Robbie Hannan playing Larry Dunn's Peter Hunter B set outside on Gabriel's deck.
  3. Robbie Hannan playing Larry Dunn's Peter Hunter B set outside on Gabriel's deck.... sounds familiar for some reason??? ;)
  4. Robbie Hannan playing Larry Dunn's Peter Hunter B set in Gabriel's dining room.
  5. Robbie Hannan playing Larry Dunn's Peter Hunter B set in Gabriel's dining room.... this is getting ridiculous! Keep an eye on this fella Larry! ;)
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