IF you think Ian was long winded, press "delete" now. This is just for the record. Here's a bit more detail about NSPiping in the Pacific Northwest.
Sandy Ross was my close friend, fellow Highland piper and neighbor here on Vashon Island in the early '70s. His father was from Newcastle, so Sandy introduced me to the NSP via a recording of Billy Pigg. Sandy lived in a Hippie commune in an old farm down the road. We sat around the pot belly stove playing practice chanters and listening to LPs, drinking tea or beer while partially dressed Hippies went about their tasks. I often worked on the farm cutting wood, building fences and taking care of the animals. It was quite an education for a Vicar's son. NSP will forever be associated in my mind with naked Hippies and a little wooden table in a kitchen smelling of goat's milk, garlic and drying herbs. Sandy eventually got a set of pipes from Colin Ross, who turns out to be distantly related to him. I hope I can be candid without starting a fire storm. I too sent letters to Colin Ross asking to order a set of pipes and more information about them. When I finally received a reply it was to say he was too busy to help. I was completely unaware of the NPS. In 1979 I went to the University of Edinburgh to study Scottish Literature. I again attempted to make contact with Colin Ross while in Edinburgh. I don't remember exactly how this attempt failed, but I didn't make any note of it in my journal, so it must not have been a big surprise or disappointment. I do remember being told that the NSP were essentially dead and that Colin was the only person making them, but by whom I don't remember for sure. If I remember correctly it was a Scottish friend from the Borders who found David Burliegh's phone number for me. We made a trip to Longframlington, stopping off in Falkirk for meat pies and baked beans at a pub where I entertained the locals with my unintelligible English. They had Andy Stewart and American country music on the juke box. I think they thought I was German. David Burleigh was very accommodating, delivering an eleven key set to me before I had to go home three months later. Last I heard, David Power, the uilleann piper has that set now (#392?). David Burleigh sold me the NPS book one, which along with the tunes enclosed in the "Cut and Dry Dolly" LP were my only NSP music for about a decade. I found Butler's tutor somehow. I continued to cast about for instruction and help until finally Lance Armstrong contacted me. He and his lovely sister, Jane, visited my family in Seattle where we had several small workshops over a period of years. Gail Gibbard in Portland had discovered NSP on her own and eventually took over organizing Lance's workshops, bringing in many more people in the process. The fact we have so many NSPipers here in the PNW is due to Gail's heroic efforts. About this time Gordon Mooney was part of the Balmoral School of Highland piping in Tacoma. Many of us attended solely because Gordon was there. Gordon covered Lowland piping on SSP and spent quite a bit of time on the NSP as well. He played the first Border pipes that I saw and heard up close and personal. I didn't see the benefit of joining the NPS nor did anyone I met suggest it would be a good idea to send them money. Lance and Jane introduced us to a structured way of learning the NSP. Lance became a source for reeds, which were very difficult to come by otherwise. Lance is a controversial figure, but it must be said he made an effort to help us when few we knew in Northumberland would return our letters. I think Lance got in touch with me through the NAALBP (the North American Association of Lowland & Border Pipers). The Pipers' Gathering was creating a lot of excitement about bellows blown pipes at the time, but a trip to Vermont was too expensive for me (still is). Lance introduced us to the playing of Pauline Cato among others. Personally, I don't enjoy structured learning programs with exams, medals and levels--it's too much like work. So I didn't participate in that part of Lance's program. Ian Lawther gave us a big shot in the arm when he moved here and has been a generous source of knowledge and inspiration ever since. Chris Evans, likewise, was an amazing addition to our little group during the short time he worked at that software company in Kirkland. Gail, Peter Dyson and others have put in many hours organizing workshops with "big name" NSPipers over the last decade or so. Unless I'm being unforgivably forgetful, I don't think the NPS has been an integral part of our success. If you've made to the end, I'll buy you a pint the next time we meet. Cheers, John To get on or off this list see list information at http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~wbc/lute-admin/index.html