A Passion For Pipering
Good Piping is the name of new documentary film by a young filmmaker from Nashville, Davis Watson, in which he traces the history of the uilleann pipes right up to today’s practitioners.
In 2008, Watson sold what assets he had in the USA to travel around Ireland documenting what he could of the uilleann piping tradition. Shot over two years, Good Piping is a mix of music, song, story, place, individuality and the passing on of a tradition. It moves in and out of the lives of a handful of Ireland’s finest pipers, such as Seán McKiernan, Néillidh Mulligan, Kevin Rowsome, Jimmy O’Brien-Moran, Eugene Lambe, Leo Rickard and others.
Of his own fascination with the pipes, Watson says: ‘my first memory of the uilleann pipes would be hearing Seamus Ennis on a collection of music recorded with Alan Lomax in the ‘50’s. Alan Lomax is a hero of mine from age 16 or so - my introduction to a huge cache of music and culture from around the world. Ennis made a huge impression on me. The voice alone would have been enough, but these pipes he played…. And the command of them! He was an absolute musical genius.’
On the motivation and ability to make the film, he says: ‘At some point I became achingly self-aware of how far I was removed from the piping tradition. My contribution wouldn’t be in the playing. Making a film on them began to consume my thoughts. I went to a lot of organizations in Ireland and the States to see if I could find assistance in funding the endeavor. In the first 3 years, I turned up nothing. When I was 25, my grandfather left me a small trust, which was enough for me to think of at least beginning the film. So I packed some gear and with a couple numbers in hand, headed for Dublin.’
With the help of Foras Na Gaeilge, Tom Mulligan of the Cobblestone Pub, Terry Moylan of Na Píobairí Uilleann, friends and family, and the cooperation of the pipers themselves, the film is now made and being seen at various events and festivals in both Ireland and the United States.
As part of Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, the next screening is on Wednesday, 11 July in Miltown Malbay, at 5pm in Tom Malone’s Pub, and Watson is keen to hear from other festivals and venues that might be interested in hosting a screening.
Published on 6 July 2012