Robert Burns Supper
St. Johns Neighborhood, Portland, Oregon
I hadn’t played a Robert Burns Supper for a few years and I would say this is one was one of the best I had ever attended or played. Burns suppers or Burns Nights are formal or informal gatherings to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s National Poet Robert Burns. The night typically includes haggis, other Scottish delicacies, Scotch whisky, varied entertainment and recitations of Robert Burns’ poetry.
After our initial phone contact I met the hosts at the closest thing to my “local” (mainly because I can walk there) – The Beer Store in Milwaukie, OR. I brought along a couple of kilts for the husband to try on and borrow and we discussed the program for the night. Sean, the husband (who is of Scottish heritage) and his wife, Sarah, and their two children are lovely people and I was impressed to learn they have been hosting a Burns Supper for several years.
On the night of the event Sean greeted us outfitted in my McKenzie tartan and sporran. I had chosen my Cameron kilt paired with a white shirt, black waistcoat and jacket, blue hose and semi-dress black leather sporran. The event was held in a condo in Salem, OR. After a quick nip of Scotch from their generous and varied offerings I stood on the walk outside their door and piped in the guests. It was a starry, clear (thankfully) evening and I played a festive medley of tunes (an assortment of jigs, reels, and marches) for about 20 minutes while their oldest daughter handed out programs to arriving guests. Guests as well as neighbors and passersby on foot and bike stopped for a listen.
Sean’s parents had made a variety of dishes, including the haggis, and after the welcome speech, and ample time for guests to mingle and enjoy refreshments I piped in the haggis. I entered the room leading the whiskey bearer, the dirk (knife) bearer, and of course, the haggis bearer. After Sean gave a rousing speech and eviscerated the haggis with the dirk it was time for Supper! It was a delightful spread that included cock-a-leekie soup, shepherds pie, tatties (mashed potatoes), neeps (mashed turnips), scones (savory and sweet) and Typsy Laird. After dinner we were treated to a whole program of entertainment, from Burns poetry and anecdotes to songs by several talented musicians and vocalists. I made the Toast to the Lassies and was treated to an excellent rebuttal that included the entertaining http://lyricstranslations.com/prevod/traditional-drinking-song-the-drunken-scotsman.
What a wonderful evening! And what kind and generous hosts. It is after parties like this I feel so grateful that my passion for piping allows to me play such events. (all names and places have been changed to retain confidentiality.)