Trailing Drones
September 30, 2008

Competent inter-continental incontinence

In this, an election year of the Untied States of America, so many bands also want leadership and change, change, change. So much so that I hear some pipe-majors are dressing up as a “hockey mom,” toting a moose-hunting rifle and extolling the virtues of procreation to bolster roster numbers . . . Let’s see what Harry’s private ballot box has for you this month . . .
We all know that the selection committee for pipers getting to compete at Oban and Inverness puts a lot of emphasis on success at Scottish competitions. Any success that happens outside of the UK is looked on either with a bit of disdain or is simply outright ignored. But one look at the entries around the Scottish games this summer will show that there are relatively few UK pipers who actually compete at them. The majority of competitors at most of the events are from North America and continental Europe. Fewer and fewer Scottish pipers are bothering to go to their local contests. The “Scottish” games circuit is increasingly named for the location, not the entry.
Hearty congratulations to the well known pipers Megan Harrington and Ryan Canning who tied the knot on August 19th in Glasgow, the Tuesday after the World’s. The happy couple were thoughtful enough to sandwich their big day between the World’s and the solo gatherings. The Cannings now are in competition with Alasdair and Margaret Dunn, Colin MacLellan and Jenny Hazzard and, of course, the two who started it all, Murray and Patricia Henderson for the title of the world’s most famous married piping couple.
Two-hundred-twenty-odd bands are again pushing the World Pipe Band Championships to the limit. I hear that a two-day World’s is under consideration once again, and that all Grade 1 bands might have to go through a qualifier on the Saturday to get to a Sunday Final that everyone else will be able to watch. (See Mr. Mathieson‘s enlightening interview.) Furthermore, the RSPBA, I understand, will examine the merit of placing the Final at a large, ticketed venue, like the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, where each would perform on stage, ahem, facing the audience. The Shotts turnaround maneuvre at the World’s seems a lot more than a stunt; it might be a strong foreshadowing of things to come. Shotts of course is a concert / performance driven band, while groups like 2008 World Champions SFU and five-time World’s-winners FMM put the emphasis on competition success. Makes sense that P-M Rab would push for more of a performance-based competition format, doesn’t it?
Word has it that a few top Canadian bands have changes. The St. Andrew’s Society of Winnipeg, which finished third in Grade 2 at Maxville, has lost its whole snare line and probably some of its bass-section. And Alberta Caledonia L-D Peter Hendrickson has joined SFU and P-S Sean Somers has gone on to do different things.
So 150 bands haul their tipsy selves out to the march past at the Cowal Championships to hear the results, as per usual. The RSPBA, after 100 years of Cowal tradition, finally realize, Hey, if we announce the Grade 1 results first, then maybe those bands will get off the field first and the winner can lead the traditional playing-doon-the-road to the pier. Brilliant! But in the association’s dogged determination to beat – for once – pipes|drums to the posting of results from a championship, they just go ahead and upload the Cowal results to their site before they’re even announced to the bands. Of course every band has at least one guy with a mobile phone, and word gets round the park within minutes that the results are already out. So most of the bands start wandering off the field, since they already know whether they’re in or not. D’oh!
The emergent hottest pipe-music record label seems to be Macneamnma. On the heels of the brilliant Stuart Liddell CD, Inveroran, come Alasdair Gillies‘sLochbroom and an upcoming CD by twice Gold Medallist Niall Matheson. Happy to see pure piping projects are still being made.
Is the Ontario Grade 5 standard the same as the RSPBA’s Grade 4B? If Paris/Port Dover‘s Grade 5 band’s second-prize in Grade 4B at the World’s is any indication, I would say so. One standard is rising while another’s might be declining. Which raises the obvious question: is the MAP scheme even working?
Sack cloth and ashes to the BBC for not making its online videos from the World Championship available to anyone with an IP address outside of the UK. Let me try to get this straight. The Beeb makes world-class video coverage of the big event, only to keep it from the rest of the world? It has to do with the ever parochial protectionist mindset that exists in Great Britain, and the fact that, because the BBC is paid for by government funding from taxpaying UK citizens, that those citizens should be the only ones to enjoy it. How dough-headed can you get? Rule Britannia, wot!
I understand that the once mighty Dysart & Dundonald may have a new pipe-major soon, with the band returning to competition in 2009. Who is it rumoured to be? Here’s a hint: rhymes with gorge leopard.
And so my fellow people of the world, I say to you this day that all pipers and drummers are created equal! I say to you, that you, too, can bring about change! I say to you that the challenge is not the content of your medley but the medley of your incontinence!
What’s your verbal diarrhea? Be sure to forward your anonymous tips to Harry!


  1. Ummm Shotts being known as a concert band and FMM and SFU being competition heavy? it wasn’t until recently that Shotts started joining the ranks of these two bands in the concert area. While FMM has only a few big concerts to their credit pre 2000 show with said Shotts and others, they did put out a fine live album, while Shotts only put out 2 less than desirable studio recordings. As for SFU…..the band that has a Live in America in Chicago, not to mentionn the first pipe band to perform in Carnegie Hall. Now on top of that lets not forget the very big Down Under production in Australia at the famed Sydney Opera House. Let me know when Shotts publicly” does a concert in a venue bigger than the pre worlds concert. A small place in orlando Florida doesn’t quite make them a concert band. And I’d like to add that the last great concert in my opinion had to be Victoria Police in 98 at the last Motherwell concert.”



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