After hitching a ride from Uig with a lovely couple from Nottingham, England, I arrived in Portree to the stirring sounds of the Skye Youth Pipe Band (Comhalan Oigrigh an Eilein in Gaelic). I hurriedly got out my recording equipment and caught the last few tunes right as the breeze fizzled out and the midges made their appearance known, visibly affecting some members of the group. The pipe band, made up of students from Portree High School, had formed a ring in Somerled Square and were running down some sets for the public. Their music could be heard floating all throughout the town (which, with 12 or so pipers, I would certainly hope so!).
Portree (Port Rìgh in Gaelic, which translates to ''King's Port'') is a great little town found about halfway up the east coast of Skye, definitely worth a trip to visit its cute harbor as well as its wide selection of shops, pubs, restaurants, and hostels.
One of the adults in the group, Alan Mackenzie, the Pipe Major of the Isle of Skye Pipe Band, would occasionally check all of the pipers' drones to ensure that they were still in tune, quickly moving from piper to piper and sliding a drone here and there.
The other adult in the band, who I assume was Pipe Major Iain Ruairidh Finlayson, would call out and count off the tunes, keeping the beat with his foot. This proved to be important particularly in the last set below (starting with ''Red Fox''), as this was a medley set with many different types of tunes and time feels. The bass drummer was keeping a close eye and ear on P/M Finlayson's foot, making sure to stay right in time with every change and helping the rest of the band find the beat.
If you happen to be out in Skye (or in Scotland) and want to hear a great youth pipe band, the group regularly updates their Facebook and keeps everyone posted on their next gigs. According to their Facebook, they usually play in Portree Square on Wednesday nights in the summer. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/Skye-Youth-Pipe-Band-214521961913570/
Back in March 2016, the pipe band entered the Scottish Schools Championship and placed 1st in the Debut category. More information can be found on this page, which details their repertoire and includes more pics/news of the band: