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



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