At the tender age of nine, a wee Dougie McCance from Glasgow picked up the bagpipes for the first time and he's never looked back. Now just shy of 26 years old, McCance is living the good life. He's already toured the world for several years as a member of the "most famous bagpipe band on the planet," the bagrockin' Red Hot Chilli Pipers. He performed on the soundtrack to the Dreamworks' film "How to Train Your Dragon 2." Earlier this year he was a finalist in the BBC Radio Scotland's Young Traditional Musician of the Year competition. He's engaged to be married in 2018, and he's just released his debut album as a solo performer, "Composed."
McCance's final set in the Young Traditional Musician competition
After studying, teaching and performing for over half of his young lifetime, McCance says the time was just right for him to share his music with the world. "I just felt like I was at a nice stage of my life where I had written some tunes and I just wanted to showcase myself as a musician to let people hear my own tunes, my own style of music, and my own tastes."
As a Red Hot Chilli Piper, McCance has earned his fame so far playing their unique fusion of bagpipes with classic rock and pop tunes - a musical genre the band has styled as "bagrock." As a solo album "Composed" is all about Dougie's love of traditional Scottish music. The album is a collection of 9 tracks, written mostly, says McCance, in the past year or two. Within these tracks are fine examples of traditional bagpipe styles, like jigs, reels, airs and laments, but the bagrockin' Dougie is never far away. The opening track, Loch Morar, proves this as the opening bars could backdrop a scenic walk across a Scottish Moor while slowly building to a heart-pounding, knee-slapping, foot-stomping ceilidh tune worthy of any Chilli's encore. In short, Composed delivers a blend of tunes sure to please both traditionalists and bagrockers and most in between.
McCance (center piper) with the Red Hot Chilli Pipers in a holiday TV appearance
A nice touch to the album (CD) was McCance's decision to include a small booklet within the CD sleeve in which he shares brief notes about the inspiration behind each song, like Leaving Home - written for his twin sister upon her moving to Dubai to work for Emirates Airlines or CathKen's Tune - honoring his Mum and Dad for their support of his following his musical dreams. The first music video from the collection, Kingston Road, features his girlfriend, now fiancé, Eilidh, as one of the Highland dancers.
Kingston Road is the only track on the album to feature vocals (in English or Gaelic). The video was filmed at The Cloisters at Glasgow University.
As a professional piper, McCance is available for hire for weddings and other special occassions. He also offers bagpiping lessons both online and in person. His success as a member of the RHCP has opened other doors too - the Dreamworks recording for example and a chance to perform with one of his musical influences, Ed Sheeran. Another memorable experience was his portryal of the Lone Piper at Edinurgh Castle for a 911 tribute video the band did honoring the 343 firefighters who died in the Twin Towers terrorist attack.
The official 343 fundraising video featuring Dougie McCance as the Lone Piper at Edinburgh Castle.
McCance says it's too early to know if there will be a Dougie McCance Composed solo tour but he didn't discount the possibility. McCance purposely did not use any of the Chillis as backing musicians on Composed but will he perform any of his own tracks with the Chillis? Other musicians well associated with bands have done so - Don Henley of the Eagles and Phil Collins of Genisis come to mind. McCance says that's not his decision, it's for the band and its management but he admitted it would be fun to do so. (McCance is not the first Chilli to launch a solo career - bassist Alan McGeoch released his first solo effort, Modern Love Affair, in October 2016 showcasing his talents as a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumental musician. McCance appears playing the pipes as a guest.)
McCance used crowdfunding to help with the costs of production of Composed with backers receiving personalized signed "pre-release" copies. The CD is now available to order through Dougie's own website (link below) or on iTunes.
•Dougie the Piper (website)
•Dougie McCance (Facebook)
•Red Hot Chilli Pipers (website)
•National Youth Pipeband of Scotland (website)