The bagpipes might be the butt of more jokes at the Fringe than any other subject. Anyone tempted to poke fun at or curse this most Scottish of instruments, however, would have to think twice after hearing the Whistlebinkies' presentation of Scottish Music Traditional and New. These were not the blaring street corner pipes purporting to bring you a slice of Scotland that Fringe-goers so dread. This group of musicians was very much the real deal.
Besides the pipes, which were played by Rab Wallace (the closest thing the Whistlebinkies have to a band leader), the group deployed all manner of instruments, most of them unconventional to modern listeners but all of them entrenched in tradition: the clarsach, the bodhran, the concertina and more. These instruments combined for a variety of tunes from all parts of Scotland, with Wallace or some other band member always sure to put a piece in its geographical and even historical context before launching into it.
Along with traditional Scottish pieces, from quicksteps and jigs to more sombre laments, the Whistlebinkies also explored the connection between Scottish music and traditions from Brittany and Ireland. Of these less local samplings some ancient clan marches had the crowd stomping along with particular excitement. In all, this rich and surprisingly diverse selection of Celtic tunes made for a perfect antidote to the countless public renditions of Scotland the Brave that usually pass for traditional Scottish music during the Fringe.