Trailing Drones
December 31, 2008

Good for what trails ya

What’s happening with Alberta Caledonia? There are reports that the band is suffering from a sudden lack of personnel, and even its once great website has been shut down for a month now. I hope the reports aren’t true. This has been one of the world’s really good Grade 1 bands.
I hear that Michael Grey is working on a “Best of . . .” compilation CD for 2009 that will also include a few new studio tracks. He’s picking his favourite cuts from his numerous solo albums. Call it a greatest (triple-)hits disc, you might say.
I’ve been told that the BBC is not a little upset by the unfair criticism it received in the Piping Times for its TV show on the World Championships. Quite right. Here’s hoping that they stay with it and understand that most pipers and drummers know that the Beeb is trying to package what we do for a bigger audience, beyond our small percentage of chronic moaners.
Several Scottish bands are planning trips to the North American Championships in 2010. The Grade 1 Torphichen & Bathgate is rumoured to have their sights set on the event, as well as the Grade 2 MacKenzie Caledonian. Given that 2008 was the once-every-five-years torrent of rain, weather promises to be excellent until 2013.
The Grade 1 Toronto Police shook things up in 2008 with their “Variations on a Theme of Good Intentions” medley (see vid). Now the band is getting ready two selections along the same lines, both pushing to the eight-minute mark, as per the new PPBSO rule allowing slightly longer medleys. The band is skipping the World’s and Maxville, going instead to Lorient to perform and cut a CD at a big concert. World reception to the 2008 medley was mixed but, like the bagpipe itself, people seemed either to really love it or really dislike it. I haven’t heard whether any other Grade 1 bands are planning to go down a similar musical route this coming year.
Watch for a leaner, meaner RSPBA going forward. The organization’s plan to revamp its branch system and National Council by consolidating things, if it gets approved at their AGM in March, could mean that things get done faster with less cost. Harry has often wondered why, under the current set up, there are five National Council reps from England (!!) and only two from Northern Ireland. I have my eye on this one.
Stay tuned . . .


  1. Its’ doubtful that anyone else will try to push the 7.5 minute mark for a Medley let alone submit a concert suite as a Pipe Band Competition Medley. However, we may see some ideas or inspiriation from TPPB’s submission in 2008 influencing other Medley performances and construction moving forwardinto 2009.



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