Cumbria Gaita Band are based in and around Kendal, Cumbria, and play traditional Galician bagpipes (Gaitas), accompanied by Galician-style percussion.
The Cumbria Gaita Band was founded in 2014 in Kendal by Colin Blakey and Philippa Bull of Macaroon Music. Colin has been interested in Galician Celtic music since he first lived in Galicia in the 1980’s, when he joined a local Galician folk group band as guitarist and flute player. He took up playing the gaita bagpipes some years later, when on tour with The Waterboys. He has collected many tunes that now form the basis of the Cumbria Gaita Band’s repertoire.
The couple invited Philippa’s sister Hannah and Bill Lloyd to join them on pipes, and the percussion section is made up of Ali Lloyd on bass drum and music student Sam Bowen-Wild plays snare drum. The authentic Galician sound is completed by letter-carver Pip Hall from Dent, playing the conchas (scallop shells) – the traditional symbol of the pilgrimage to Santiago.
It is an exhilarating sound – lively and uplifting, and Galician pipe music has gorgeous harmonies which give it a sweet sound, similar to Scottish bagpipes, but with its own distinctive character. Galicia is a Celtic culture, and the tunes have similarities to Irish and Scottish music, but they also include syncopated dance tunes such as the Rumba, which are unknown in other Celtic music.