THE haunting sounds of Spanish bagpipes can now be heard on the streets of Kendal, with the formation of a new band playing traditional music from the Spanish province of Galicia.

The Cumbria Gaita Band is the brainchild of Kendal-based Colin Blakey and Philippa Bull of Macaroon Music.

Colin joined a gaita (Spanish Bagpipes) band as a guitarist and flute player after hearing the traditional music of Galicia while visiting Santiago de Compostela in the 1980s.

He took up playing the gaita bagpipes some years later, when on tour with The Waterboys.

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.

Bill Lloyd said “We are very lucky to have a skilled arranger as our pipe band master – Colin Blakey is very experienced in all kinds of traditional music, and has spent a lot of time transcribing the authentic ornamentation and percussion grooves, so the band sounds as close as possible to a genuine Spanish Gaita band.

“Colin has also arranged some traditional Northumbrian tunes for the pipes, so we can play some of our own folk music as well.”

“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.

The Gaita bagpipe was very popular in medieval times, but fell out of favour until the 1970s, when the folk music revival rediscovered the instrument and it became hugely popular, with hundreds of Gaita bands springing up all over Galicia.”

The Cumbria Gaita Band’s next booking is for the Westmorland Damson Association’s Damson Day on April 11.