It’s show time: 2011 UK outdoor season starts Sunday
Another long winter of hard practice has passed, and the pipe band outdoor competition season is poised to begin this weekend, with the annual Gourock Highland Games on Sunday, May 8th. Gourock has the distinction this year of being the first event after the Dunbar games on the east side of the country, opted to go with the following Saturday for their event.
As a result, Gourock will see a slightly larger entry, particularly in the higher grades, with four Grade 1 and six Grade 2 bands planning to compete.
Grade 1 competitors include the House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead, a band that has not played in a small competition since the 1990s, limiting itself to the five RSPBA major championships. The 2011 season will be the first full one with Pipe-Major Gavin Walker leading the band. Walker took over from long-time leader Robert Mathieson in a blockbuster change in August of last year. The band will also be playing new Sinclair chanters.
Also competing in Grade 1 is ScottishPower, which laid down a gauntlet of sorts by winning both events at the Lomond & Clyde Invitational Indoor Competition in Glasgow in March, albeit with each band competing with a limited number of pipers and drummers.
As with most non-Championship events in the UK, bands are allowed to compete in higher grades if they wish, provided they meet the requirements of the category in terms of personnel and musical content.
The weather forecast for Sunday in Gourock calls for a high of 18 degrees and light showers.