Don’t however, talk to this blogger about climate change. This is Scotland – the climate changes every fifteen minutes, and duly played to form through most of the first day of the festival.
Not that the occasional nuisance value of the showers dampened anyone’s enthusiasm. On the contrary, by 11am, the town centre was resounding to the rhythm of seventeen three feet high, lavishly coloured metal drums, played by the ludicrously ill-named Trash band. The kids of Cornbank Primary School were led by an almost manically energetic Bill Muir and his young colleague, Steven Rayner, through a tidal succession of drumming moods, from a low whispering beat, to the thundering hooves of a buffalo stampede, and back again.
The metal drums and the counterpointing “batphone” great pipes and the “scaffold pipes” had started life as industrial pipes and drums, and to see and hear them alchemised into musical instruments capable of such changing moods, was testimony to Bill’s versatile imagination. Originally a Blues harmonica player, he, and his band, have been touring with their drums, pipes and sundry instruments since 1994, from Shetland to Germany, Poland and Israel.
In the afternoon, Bill and Steven held a drumming workshop for participants of all ages, in the South Kirk Hall and a session of good vibrations wound its mesmerising way from thunderstorm rhythms to near lullaby softness, while the pipes mimicked a, carillon of church bells, and a solo girl dancer wove her improvisations between and around the players. Between drum-bursts, Bill coaxed his pupils through such imaginative exercises as drum-riding and shark-impressions! Not to mention a little drumstick-juggling. At the end of the session, everyone left with a well-justified smile of self-satisfaction on their faces.