Big plans for Tartan Week 2017 in the Big Apple

Craig (right) with Jamie McGeechan (aka Little Fire) at the Robert Burns statue in Central Park. Jamie recorded Burns songs inside the Burns Cottage in Alloway.

Craig (right) with Jamie McGeechan (aka Little Fire) at the Robert Burns statue in Central Park. Jamie recorded Burns songs inside the Burns Cottage in Alloway.

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Carnoustie piper Craig Weir has returned from a second year of Tartan Week engagements on America’s East Coast with plans to take his band there next year.

The 22-year-old student, who has piped for rock band Queen, the Bay City Rollers and the Dalai Lama, took part in this year’s Tartan Week in New York and Boston as an Ambassador for the World Peace Tartan, Scottish culture and his celtic rock band, Gleadhraich.

Craig playing his commissioned piece The Immigrant's Lament on Ellis Island for the second year.

Craig playing his commissioned piece The Immigrant's Lament on Ellis Island for the second year.

And he has returned with hopes to take them with him next year.

Speaking about the visit, Craig said: “Once again, experiencing how crazy the Americans go for Scottish culture in general was pretty special. The response I got when I was piping was great and it was an incredible week.

“I had talks with the organisers of New York Tartan Week and I hope we can make a deal to have Gleadhraich play there next year.”

The band have already played in Germany and France, as well as festivals in England and Wales. The plans for their first Transatlantic trip come only weeks after they surprised their Dundee gig audience with guest spots by Bay City Roller Alan Longmuir and Scots Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall.

Craig with (left) Margaret Kelly of the Highland Divas and fashion designer Siobhan Mackenzie in Times Square.

Craig with (left) Margaret Kelly of the Highland Divas and fashion designer Siobhan Mackenzie in Times Square.

Once again Craig’s schedule on the five-day tartan trip was hectic, but this year it included playing at Tartan Day events in Boston which he’d personally organised.

Held at The Black Rose bar, the celebrations included music from Craig, Canadian piper Jean-Michel Leduc, the Boston Scottish Fiddle Club and An Acoustic Mind - the band of Mike Ogletree (Simple Minds/Fiction Factory) as well as whisky promotions and a Scottish menu.

The event, in aid of the Scots Charitable Society in Boston (the oldest charitable society in the Western Hemisphere – founded in 1657), proved so popular with Bostonians organisers had to use the overspill bar to accommodate demand. As a result they are keen to repeat and expand on it next year.

Back in New York, Craig, who won a Young Scot award in 2014 for promoting the pipes to young people, reprised many of his engagements from last year - talking about Scottish culture and playing the pipes to schoolchildren at the Alexander Robertson School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (the oldest in the USA) early in the week before leading them in the annual Tartan Day Parade on the Saturday.

Craig leading the Alexander Robertson School down the Avenue of the Americas on the Tartan Day parade in heavy rain.

Craig leading the Alexander Robertson School down the Avenue of the Americas on the Tartan Day parade in heavy rain.

He also gave a lunchtime recital at Bryant Park for the American Scottish Foundation, played with The Highland Divas and performed ‘The Immigrants’ Lament’ - the piece commissioned by the Clan Currie Society - on Ellis Island on his final day.

New this year on his show with the Highland Divas were the addition of Franklin Vanderbilt, drummer to Stevie Wonder and Lenny Kravitz, and Jamie McGeechan (Little Fire) - the only person to record Burns songs inside the Burns Cottage in Alloway.

Craig also met Fashion Designer Siobhan Mackenzie, who created Miss Scotland’s national costume for Miss World 2015, and got to sign copies of Gleadhraich’s EP ‘Where We’re From’ at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern as well as playing in the Belhaven Best show at The Rookery, Brooklyn, and at the Belhaven Best ‘Outlander’ Gathering at Beer Authority.

Now he’s hoping his band can be as popular Stateside next year as the US show about Scotland has proven to be.

Craig with Mike Ogletree at Fairfield, Connecticut, en route to Boston.

Craig with Mike Ogletree at Fairfield, Connecticut, en route to Boston.

Craig (right) and Jamie McGeechan (aka Little Fire) hail a cab on Manhattan.

Craig (right) and Jamie McGeechan (aka Little Fire) hail a cab on Manhattan.