Bagpipe judge has played with Sir Paul
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 06:00 am
Mull of Kyntire isn’t the only rock classic featuring the bagpipes. Here are some other rockers who have used the traditional Scottish instrument.
1.It’s A Long Way To The Top —AC/DC
2. Sky Pilot — The Animals
3. Hair of the Dog — Nazareth
4. Tomorrow —U2
5. 96 Come Talk to Me — Peter Gabriel
Some days it seems even a bagpipe aficionado will be keeping his focus on the present and not thinking of “Yesterday” when he judges at the Foothills Highland Games this weekend.
Seconds after Sir Paul McCartney finished singing “Yesterday”, bagpipe judge Rene Cusson joined 15 other pipers and six drummers on the Mosaic Stadium stage in Regina on Aug. 14 for what can only be described as the performance of a lifetime.
“It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of things,” Cusson said. “Just to be on stage was a great experience.”
Cusson, who lives in Nanaimo, B.C., is a member of the Regina Pipe Band, which was invited to join McCartney for the iconic Wings’ hit “Mull of Kintyre” at his concert in Regina earlier this month.
During the sound check, McCartney had some verbal exchanges with the Regina Pipe Band and the other musicians on the stage.
“We had a rehearsal during the sound check and he had some friendly exchange with the musicians on stage, but there is no doubt he is in control of the stage when he is up there,” Cusson said. “He’s directing and commenting on things he would like to see changed during the performance.”
Although “Mull of Kintyre” isn’t a particularly difficult piece to play, Cusson said things get a wee bit intense when you are playing with a member of rock royalty.
“You have to really think about the counting and the timing,” Cusson said with a chuckle. “You couldn’t rely on your neighbour and watch his piping fingers . You had to be bang on. When you are on stage with Sir Paul, you want it to sound really good and fit right in to enhance his performance.”
He admitted it was hard not to sneak a glance at the former Beatle while on stage.
“I think we were all concentrating on our music, but myself, I was definitely looking at Sir Paul once or twice,” Cusson said.
Cusson is more than willing to share his story on stage with McCartney when he judges the pipers at the Foothills Highland Games this Saturday at Foothills Composite High School.
It will be Cusson’s second Foothills Highland Games.
“I thought they were great when I was there in 2011,” Cusson said. “There are some very fine players who will be there.”
There’s one other guy who knows how good Canadians are on the bagpipes — Paul McCartney.
“He didn’t perform Mull of Kintyre in the United States, I don’t know what that was all about,” Cusson said. “I guess he feels he can get good pipe bands in Canada, so he includes it when he is here.”