On a bitterly cold January day this year I photographed Michael Grey before he got on a plane home to Canada. Fast forward 12 months and I'll be photographing him again when he is performing in the eagerly anticipated Live in Ireland 87 piping concert at Celtic Connections 2016:
Mike's achievements in piping are too numerous to mention, and every piper will have heard of him, or at least read his name at the top of a sheet of music. He has published nine CDs, six tunebooks — and he is a fantastic writer. His Grey's Notes columns for Piping Today magazine contain some of the most articulate, insightful and funny words ever written about the Great Highland Bagpipe — or even life in general:
I first met Mike in 2010 through Piping Today. He was coming to Glasgow for Celtic Connections and suggested we meet for a pint in Blackfriars, a well-loved pub in the Merchant City — but it did surprise me that he knew of it. He was with his long-time friend Malkie Bow, and I remember laughing all night. I found out that Mike and Malkie had been coming to Celtic Connections for years, and if you add their visits for World Pipe Band Championships, they both know Glasgow better than I do.
But the big coincidence was Saltcoats, my home town. It so happened that Mike and Malkie had visited Saltcoats earlier on in the day we first met in 2010 — just so Malkie could relive a childhood memory and eat his favourite cake from the Kandy Bar bakery. They also visited Saltcoats harbour and Mike seemed impressed (maybe that’s the wrong word) with its aromatic “fishy”, hole-in-the-wall doorway — so we had to go back there for the photoshoot.