If you’re Jim Kilpatrick with 16 World Solo Championship titles and another 16 second-place finishes in the event, you almost automatically become the odds-on favourite to win the contest every year. That Kilpatrick would at least qualify for the Final is therefore assumed.
So when the greatest competitive pipe band drummer in history failed not only to win the event but even to make it out of his qualifying heat, it produced one of the most surprising results in pipe band history.
So what happened?
When asked whether he prepared adequately for the competition, Kilpatrick told pipes|drums, “My preparation for this year’s solos was as good as I could wish for and better than some previous years I could think of. I also had lots of quality practice sessions with [House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead Pipe-Major] Robert Mathieson, which helps both of us lock into each other’s playing. Because of this, I had a great feeling and was confident that I had done everything possible to set me up for the big day.”
With two eighth-places from judges Mick O’Neill and Arthur Cook, many assumed that Kilpatrick’s MSR performance was not up to his own standards, let alone that of the event. He played “Donald Cameron,” “Susan MacLeod” and “The Sheepwife.”
“You kind of know as soon as you hit the two intro rolls how it is going to go,” he said. “The tempos were bang-on, the drum felt great to play on and I was playing with all the feel and control I could have hoped for. I was playing as well as I ever had. I felt good about the march. I felt good about the strathspey. The reel was going well and I was into the swing.”
Kilpatrick then revealed a problem that arose in the latter part of the final tune.
“On the fourth part of the reel, I had a slip with an accented roll in the seventh bar. I switched from an accented roll to some singles and completed the part. Because of that switch, I was slightly in front of the beat for a bar. The rest of the reel was absolutely fine.”
When asked what he thought after he had played, and whether he felt that he played well enough to make the Final, Kilpatrick said, “I came away feeling pretty good about the overall performance. I ran over the seventh bar a few times in my head as I went back to my practice room and thought that it would cost me a first place in the section. The rest is history. The two judges both put me down into eighth place, and so I didn’t get the chance to play for the World title.”
Some competitors might blame the judges for a bad result. Not so with Kilpatrick: “Regarding my actual solo performance, the two judges were players I have competed against for many years in Grade 1, and still compete against them.”
And with high expectations coming from all sides, failure can be that much more difficult to take for any competitor, but Kilpatrick’s thoughts weren’t selfish, and rather were focused on his long-time partner, Fiona Cruickshank.
“I felt I had let everybody down. More than anything, I felt I had let Fiona down. She worked so hard to help me in the lead up to the solos and supported me 110 per cent throughout the whole event. I was more upset for her than for myself. I felt a mixture of every emotion possible except anger. I wasn’t angry at all, just sad how it happened. I was flying to San Francisco with Fiona early the next morning so decided to go home and pack my suitcase for the trip. I wished a few people good luck before I went and kept my head high. Today, I’m in San Francisco [on vacation], sitting by the pool with my sticks and pad. I’ll be back!”
Kilpatrick stressed that he felt great for Barry Wilson on his 2007 World Solo Drumming Championship victory, especially since Wilson played in Kilpatrick’s Shotts & Dykehead corps for many years before taking the Leading-Drummer position at ScottishPower.
“I would like everybody to give him a huge pat on the back and congratulate Barry for his marvelous win,” Kilpatrick added. “As far as I can see, it was a tightly fought Final and every drummer in that competition deserved their place and a chance at the title. Well done to Barry, and well done to the others who played their hearts out.”
Kilpatrick said that he called to congratulate Barry Wilson, and to let him to know how pleased he was that he had won. “I was absolutely over the moon for him.”
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