John Bottomley – a listening recommendation



I first met John Bottomley the year we entered Queen’s University at Kingston (a very long time ago!) and joined The Queen’s Bands, me playing clarinet in the marching band and John playing bagpipes in the pipe band. We recently reconnected – as these things seem to go – on Facebook, where I discovered John is still playing the bagpipes, is very accomplished and successful, and also now recording. So here’s John to tell you more …


John Bottomley

What is your latest release and what type of music is it?
An all piobroch (classical bagpiping music with a theme and variation structure) CD based on independent research into one of the earliest manuscripts available, the Campbell Canntaireachd. The manuscript does not indicate note lengths at all – it’s all written out in vocables – so the player has to use his or her musical sense and training to interpret the tunes.


Quick description of the music you perform:
Bagpipes – I have thousands of tunes I can play at this point! I’ve recorded four CDs, all solo piping. I’ve also done some composing, and the pibroch I composed has been posted on the Piobaireachd Society’s website in Scotland.

10998849_10153411650035283_298452665_oYour brief bio:
I have been playing since 1963, before anyone in North America even knew there was a Beatles. I have competed and judged all up and down the United States and Canada, from Nova Scotia to Texas. I’ve been taught by a number of the finest players in the world, and listened to a variety of styles to create my own. I also did the piping part of the soundtrack for the feature film TROOPER, which is now available through iTunes and Google Play, as well as many other outlets. Apparently Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, whose music is also in the film, weren’t good enough to compose and play the pipe tunes.

Links for people to buy your music or hear you perform
On my website there is a shopping link. The release that would probably be most interesting to a non-piper is Bagpipe Classics New and Old. It contains a number of more popular tunes as well as tunes with strong melodic hooks to introduce more of the piping idiom to a casual listener.


Promo links:
My Facebook page often has announcements about what I’m doing.

What are you working on now?
I’m planning two more CDs. The first is going to be called Well Grounded, and it will be a collection of a number of pibroch grounds (the opening variation of the tune) designed for people in the lower competition grades. An educational CD basically. The second will be call My Favorite Things, with seven or eight of my favorite tunes.

Please recommend the name of a musician or band whose work you’ve enjoyed hearing lately.
I loves me some Dave Matthews. And The Cream – Disraeli Gears. Johnny Winter always played like he meant it, and the Tannahill Weavers, a Scottish folk group.

Queen’s Pipe Band playing Scotland the Brave

Oil thigh na Banrighinn a’Banrighinn gu brath!
Cha-gheill! Cha-gheill! Cha-gheill!

Queen’s Bands playing Oil Thigh

Oh, and, what the heck! I’m feeling incredibly nostalgic after putting together John’s promotion so here’s the

Queen’s Bands with Old Queen’s Sweater/Oil Thigh!

“For it’s not for knowledge that we go to college but to raise hell all the year!”

12 responses

  1. Thanks, Susan, for the great interview and bagpipe music. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the wonderful comments, everyone!

  3. I love the sound of bagpipes!!! Its haunting and inspiring, makes you want to get up and do a little jig.

  4. ..stirring stuff, m’Lady 🙂

    1. Thought you might like this, kind sir!

  5. Reblogged this on Reading Recommendations and commented:

    From over at my main blog, here’s a new Listening Recommendation featuring a friend from university days where we met as members of The Queen’s Bands!

  6. I’ll be sharing your blog with an accomplished piper acquaintance of mine.
    I found it interesting from a slightly different angle…. I’ve been reading a three volume history of Clan Campbell, which mentioned the Campbell Canntaireachd in passing. It’s always interesting to fill out my knowledge base a bit more! Thank you. 🙂

    1. Thank you canadianbooklady!

  7. Cool! One of my neighbors plays his bagpipes once in a while. I’ll have to check out the Tannahill Weavers – never heard of them.
    In the 50’s and up to about mid 80’s there were a couple of high schools here who had “drill teams” that played bagpipes during football halftimes. Now there’s only a few private schools that do that – some do travel to contests overseas. Interesting how music migrates, too

  8. Thanks for sharing this. I love bagpipes and always have. As a kid I wanted to learn how to play them and sadly never did. I’ll check it out.

    1. You’re never too old to learn, so I’m told! Very happy you found and read this blog post and I hope you do act on your dream!

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