Published: February 28, 2013

At Long Last

February 23, 2013

That was a fairly brutal January and February, and Harry’s not just talking about the sound of the local band at the Burns Dinner. Fair fa yer honest sonsie face, and all that, and Harry’s gasping’ for the outdoor season and pipes on grass. Seems as though the wigs are on the green already in Chicago, and Harry’s upset to see the local heroes set fire to the thatch on their ain cottage. These things often blow past when something good is on the line, though, so Harry’s hoping the kids from the Midwest will be singing Frank’s song before long.

The Piobaireachd Society launched its new web site, and Harry thinks it’s a great improvement, with one massive oversight, and one uncomfortable coincidence. The oversight is that the new site does not in any way reference the massive study of set tunes by William Donaldson. Donaldson is one of the eminent scholars of our day, and his library of tune studies is a valuable resource for every piob student. The uncomfortable coincidence is that the Society’s online store takes you directly to the business run by the Society’s Vice-President. Very bad optics, even in the judge-your-customers-and-students piping world.

Harry got some mail from The Arkansas Scottish Festival, and it seems that they aim to do something there with the band contest. The following appears at the bottom of the entry form: “Bands are NOT required to march in or form a circle. Concert formation, or any formation deemed by the Pipe-Major to present the band at its best, is acceptable. PLAY TO THE AUDIENCE. Judging will ALL be for GENERAL EFFECT rather than divided into specific piping and drumming categories. There will also be a special overall award for the crowd favorite on the day. Bands may challenge up, and could conceivably compete three times. Yes, it IS different.”

Harry applauds the folks at Lyon College for trotting out something new, and it reminds him of the proposals he once made to the Alliance of North American Pipe Band Associations for a contest, where to be truly respectful to the listening audience, certain pipe bands would not be allowed to sound their instruments. The “kilted counter-march competition” would be a great hit among the games crowds, and especially if band members were required to carry live chickens under their arms instead of bagpipes.

Harry’s a dreamer though, good readers. PETA would be all over that before you could say “Colonel Saunders” and the chickens would be fried. Harry loves the whole idea of reaching out to the general public with the beautiful and ancient traditions of Scotland, and let’s not forget that amazing Scottish tradition, brought to your screen with such poignancy, by YouTube.

Got scoop for Harry? Just drop him an e-mail message with your best dirt, and Harry will keep everything anonymous . . . unless you want him to use your name.

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