Breakfast in Balquhidder | Orchestra Macaroon

Warning: This product may contain traces of bagpipes

“Shot through with joyful melody… massive intoxicating sound… a wake-up call to the dead” Norman Chalmers, Scotland On Sunday

“Warm winter night music” David Honigmann, Financial Times

“Orchestra Macaroon have mixed conga, piano, sea samples and pipes. Somehow it works. …a seriously bagpipe-driven 53 minutes” John L Walters, The Guardian

“Quite simply some of the best Roots music I have heard in ages.” Phil Thomas, The Living Tradition

“GREAT dancing music, intriguing sounds, pipes galore… …this is wonderfully infectious music” Pat Napier, EdinburghGuide.com

Released in 2004, Orchestra Macaroon’s debut album, Breakfast in Balquhidder, was recorded, mixed and mastered on the tiny car-free island of Easdale Island, Argyll. The music combines strong groove with infectious melody, and features an international cast of musicians playing on a variety of instruments including double bass, piano, drums, bagpipes, strings, brass, congas, berimbao and even a yang qin.

Breakfast In Balquhidder was warmly received by critics and audiences alike. We recently found more copies in an attic, so are delighted still to have this music on sale on CD from Bandcamp, where you can also buy the album and individual tracks on download. With the album download you’ll get two bonus tracks: Dave Bagalley’s dub remix of Auga (track 6) and a 20 minute sample of seashore sound recorded at the back shore of Easdale Island. The music is also available to stream on Spotify. If you fancy a fry-up of tasty tunes with a flavour of the Celtic, on a bed of irresistible groove, grab yourself a helping or several!

All pieces composed by Colin Blakey
Arranged, mixed and mastered by Colin Blakey and Philippa Bull
Artwork and design by Fiona Blakey and Stephen McNally
Produced by Backshore Productions

Tracks

(For track descriptions, click here or scroll down page)

  1. Arriving in Oban (4:36)
  2. Sun in the Eyes (4:09)
  3. The Old Dispensary (5:33)
  4. Tobar Halamog Variation (1:31)
  5. Auga (4:29)
  6. The Irish Sea (3:52)
  7. Breakfast in Balquhidder (5:00)
  8. Karmac (3:29)
  9. Hall Farm Blues (5:43)
  10. Guapa (4:21)
  11. Tobar Halamog (5:16)
  12. Low Tide (4:58)

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The musicians
Orchestra Macaroon on Easdale Island, 2004 (photo courtesy of and © Marc Marnie)

Having Breakfast in Balquhidder together were (in alphabetical order):

  • Colin Blakey – piano, gaita (Galician bagpipes)
  • Ron Blakey – clarinet
  • Steve Brown – double bass, electric bass
  • Philippa Bull – drum set, percussion, strings
  • Lorne Cowieson – flugel horn
  • Kieran Gallagher – congas, berimbao, pots, bongos, caxixi
  • Kimho Ip – yang qin
  • Patrick Martin – highland pipes, uilleann pipes, low whistle
  • Stephen McNally – border pipes, gaita (Galician bagpipes)
  • Steve Wickham – violin

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Track Descriptions

1. Arriving In Oban
The tune was written on the Glasgow to Oban train, and the groove has a train-like momentum behind it. Paddy Martin’s highland pipes playing is incredibly light and grittily rhythmic. Jazz on a train.
Congas: Kieran Gallagher | Highland pipes: Patrick Martin | Flugel horns: Lorne Cowieson | Piano: Colin Blakey | Drum set & percussion: Philippa Bull | Double bass: Steve ‘Wee’ Brown

2. Sun In The Eyes
Uses elements of Afro-Cuban music including piano montuno, and tumbao on the congas. Lorne Cowieson’s flugel horn solo is the high point of this track, whilst the Galician pipes unfold the melody in an expansive soundscape which is given headroom by Steve Wickham’s multiple violins.
Flugel horn: Lorne Cowieson | Violins: Steve Wickham | Congas: Kieran Gallagher | Piano & gaita: Colin Blakey | Drum set: Philippa Bull | Double bass: Steve ‘Wee’ Brown

3. The Old Dispensary
Possibly the only piece of music in the world which has highland, Galician, uilleann and Scottish border pipes all playing together – at the same time! The tune migrates through various keys, and is underpinned by a driving Ijexa rhythm.
Uillean & highland pipes: Patrick Martin | Border pipes: Stephen McNally | Gaita: Colin Blakey | Congas: Kieran Gallagher | Drum set & percussion: Philippa Bull | Electric bass: Steve ‘Wee’ Brown

4. Tobar Halamog Variation
This is a gaita (Galician pipes) and Scottish border pipes duet in the style of a Bach musette.
Border pipes: Stephen McNally | Gaita: Colin Blakey

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5. Auga
Roots Jamaican music shows its influence here. The melody, played on clarinet and uilleann pipes, is underpinned by a gigantic double-bass counterpoint, played by Steve ‘Wee’ Brown.
Clarinet: Ron Blakey | Uillean pipes: Patrick Martin | Piano: Colin Blakey | Drum set: Philippa Bull | Double bass: Steve ‘Wee’ Brown

6. The Irish Sea
On this track Kieran Gallagher plays a Brazilian single-stringed instrument called a berimbao which you hit with a stick, in between soaring gaitas (Galician pipes) and big thunking bass and drums. Starts clean and ends dirty.
Gaitas & piano: Colin Blakey | Berimbao: Kieran Gallagher | Drum set: Philippa Bull | Double bass: Steve ‘Wee’ Brown

7. Breakfast In Balquhidder
Features the yang qin (a traditional Chinese dulcimer) playing of Kimho Ip, and begins with Philippa Bull’s ‘cello. It starts quietly and slowly somewhere in China, then picks up speed and instruments, and ends up in the swamp somewhere near New Orleans.
Yang qin: Kimho Ip | Cellos & fiddles: Philippa Bull | Uillean pipes: Patrick Martin | Gaitas: Stephen McNally & Colin Blakey | Flugel horns: Lorne Cowieson | Triangle: Kieran Gallagher | Drum set: Colin Blakey | Double bass: Steve ‘Wee’ Brown

8. Karmac
This is a pop song with no words, sung by a pair of Galician pipes (gaitas), over piano, bass and drums, pure and simple.
Gaitas & piano: Colin Blakey | Drum set: Philippa Bull | Double bass: Steve ‘Wee’ Brown

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9. Hall Farm Blues
This piece highsteps its way from Jamaica to Scotland via Galicia, and winds down to a percussion-only ‘version’ finish, featuring a congo groove.
Border pipes: Stephen McNally | Congas, caxixi & elder-wood claves: Kieran Gallagher | Gaita & keyboards | Drum set & percussion: Philippa Bull | Double bass: Steve ‘Wee’ Brown

10. Guapa
Colin was once given a piglet for Christmas. She was very cute, so he called her ‘Guapa’ which means ‘good-looking’ in Spanish. She grew into an enormous monster of an animal. On this track there are no bagpipes of any kind at all! Flugelhorn and electric piano joust together over a gliding 5/4 rhythm.
Piano: Colin Blakey | Bongos & vocals: Kieran Gallagher | Flugel horn: Lorne Cowieson | Drum set & percussion: Philippa Bull | Electric bass: Steve ‘Wee’ Brown

11. Tobar Halamog
From jazz waltz to baion, there are three variations of the one theme, which also appears elsewhere on the album as a musette. Features Galician gaita and Chinese yang qin working together in in close harmony.
Gaita & piano: Colin Blakey | Yang qin: Kimho Ip | Border pipes: Stephen McNally | Drum set & percussion: Philippa Bull | Double bass: Steve ‘Wee’ Brown

12. Low Tide
In this meditative piece the melody is hauntingly played on low whistle and uilleann pipes. They are accompanied by the sound of The Backshore near to where the music was recorded, on Easdale Island.
Berimbao & pot: Kieran Gallagher | Low whistle & uillean pipes: Patrick Martin | Guitar: Colin Blakey | Double bass: Steve ‘Wee’ Brown | Sea: The Backshore, Easdale Island

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Please explore the website to find out more about Backshore Productions, Orchestra Macaroon and all our releases: Hong Kong to Sligo, Breakfast in Balquhidder and The Roke. For any further information or if you’d just like to get in touch, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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