January 31, 2008

New band of leading pipers and drummers formed

A band of all-star pipers and drummers has been formed, with Roddy MacLeod (pictured right) as pipe-major and John Fisher as leading-drummer, featuring a roster that reads like a who’s who of famous players.

According to an exclusive statement to pipes|drums from the new band, the group “will gather at the 2008 World Pipe Band Championship in August.” The statement also said that the band will compete at the World’s, but did not say in which year.

In addition to MacLeod, who led the ScottishPower Pipe Band for many years and is in the category of elite soloists and also is the Director of the National Piping Centre and the Piping Live! Festival, pipers so far signed on with the band are:

  • Wilson Brown, Glasgow
  • Robert Crozier, Australia
  • Alasdair Gillies, Pittsburgh
  • Jenny Hazzard, Edinburgh
  • Finlay Johnston, Glasgow
  • Angus MacColl, Benderloch, Scotland
  • Finlay MacDonald, Glasgow
  • Simon Marshall, Bathgate, Scotland
  • Colin MacLellan, Edinburgh
  • Willie McCallum, Bearsden, Scotland
  • Jim McGillivray, Aurora, Ontario
  • Simon McKerrell, Edinburgh
  • Stuart Samson, Edinburgh
  • Iain Speirs, Edinburgh
  • Niall Stewart, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland

The pipe section between them have so far won 14 Highland Society of London Gold Medals.

The renowned soloist Fred Morrison is also alleged to have expressed interest.

John Fisher, who lives in Vancouver, was Leading-Drummer of the 78th Fraser Highlanders from 2003-’04, and before that led the City of Victoria Pipe Band’s corps until the mid-1980s.

The band’s mid-section will be led by Craig Colquhoun, who most recently played with the 78th Fraser Highlanders.

No other drummers so far have been revealed.

“I became aware of a lot of really good pipers and drummers standing watching at the World’s and realized there were a number like me who would enjoy the thrill of playing and competing,” MacLeod said. “However, a full-on commitment to attend year round practices was a stumbling block.

“It seemed a shame not to try to harness that talent to see if we could field a band that could perform at a high level even though we might not get together regularly. The idea was immediately met with enthusiasm – so why not? More and more now we see bands practicing in different units that come together from tremendous distances. It’s a challenge in organization, logistics and teamwork.”

The band so far has not officially registered with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, but it is thought that its intention is to compete in Grade 1. The group is also in the process of sourcing instruments and uniforms.

A source with the band said that practices will be held in Glasgow, and that much work will be done during the World’s Week when everybody gets together.

The as yet unnamed band is further ahead musically, with the two March, Strathspey & Reels distributed. Simon McKerrell and Finlay MacDonald, who each play in Celtic folk groups, are described as “the creative force behind spearheading the creation of the band’s medley.”

The new band said that other top pipers and drummers have expressed interest in joining.

In 1965 the Invergordon Distillery Pipe Band featured a comparable group of top pipers and drummers. Led by Donald Shaw Ramsay and Alex Duthart, with the likes of John D. Burgess, Bert Barr and John MacDougall in its ranks, the band won several Grade 1 championships until it essentially broke up in 1968.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for more details on the new all-star band – jokingly called “Highland Society of London Gold Medals & District” by one observer – as it is made available.

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  1. Hey there Published, here’s a little story for you. Last weekend I was down playing in Kansas City and I have to tell you that from the informal chats I had or was in, no less than 6 times was I asked do you know who this “published ” person is on Pipes|Drums all the time. They all seem to think and I agree that since you never seem to have a good thing to say about anything on here

  2. I don’t want to sidetrack the thread about the new band, so please do keep it going. But I hope and wish that all commentors (commentators?) put their name to their post. That said, the Comments feature on p|d is set up like most on the net: folks can use any names they wish. When they leave it blank, Published” is the default. That probably will be changed

  3. Robert Minnear was the first to respond, and his p|d subscription has been extended one year. Well done! Throwaway” is a horse that features in James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” It actually won 20-1 at Ascot on June 16

  4. Never mind Throwaway…..Top racing tip for the day – check out the 2.10 from Haydock and put your money on Dusty Carpet at 10-1 – it’s never been beaten. Back to topic, this new band undoubtedly represents another hammer blow to the ailing Scottish white pipe band hose industry. Meanwhile, a source close to the band added we intend to lobby the rspba to introduce a system of tuning lights for the grade one MSR ring as we feel the dithis singling of The Unjust Incarceration is the only way to really get the pipes going

  5. Holy Crap!!! That’s going to be be one bitchin’ band! My one thought is will all those soloists, with their own styles, be able to come together ensemble wise to play as a single corp. That week before the World’s is going to be pretty intense. But if they can pull it off (and looking at the roster, I’d give them a **** good chance they will), FMM, SFU and Shott’s better watch their backs.

  6. Had to check my calendar when I saw this; thot maybe it was April 1st and I had missed winter! Wishing all involved the very best of luck and look forward to some inventive things coming out of thjis group Gerry

  7. If we coulld harness all the best talent in Ontario in one band like this one minus some Highland Society Gold Medals, It would I my opinion prove to be a great thing and a lot of fun. I doubt this would ever happen but it would be exciting to see.

  8. Of course it will be interesting to see but for those around the midwest U.S.A., do you remember a little joke, I’m sorry, I mean a band called Chicago Caledonia which also had all these good solo pipers join. Let’s see, where are they now? Oh, taking another summer off I heard, isn’t that like the 2nd or 3rd summer off in 4 years?

  9. Great story…. what I can’t believe is there is no comments yet that SFU will oppose this and will not let them compete in Grade one. After seeing that thread of e-mails before, from all those nameless commentors, you must believe Terry will be behind stopping this also…… I need some more laughs, so get at the comments. Seriously, great to see, my great friend and Saskatoon born, John Fisher back on the scene. He is a rare talent that has so much to offer to all of us.

  10. It’s great to see the emmergence of a 2nd All Star Band. At the recent SlayGM held in Kansas City, the idea of actually competing at non sanctioned contests was discussed. I would love to see a Slayer vs. Gold Medal PB Showdown in Vegas.

  11. Wow… My first year going to the World’s this summer.. I am even more excited now! Unbelievable, I did not think John would lead another corps before another little while… This is a great to hear!!!

  12. With no disrespect to the all star cast, for me probably the least decorated name in the list means the Bling Band should be taken very seriously – Robert Crozier, the ears behind Viccy Police in their hey day. If he has overall responsibility for setting chanters and tuning then they will have a deadly accurate sound for a start. I’m amazed this hasn’t kicked off earlier, and they have obviously taken note of how top overseas bands operate. Only thing, they’ll be struggling for consistent time together even for five days given the collective demands on this lot during Piping Live. Good luck to them and it adds a great twist to the whole grade one saga.

  13. What an incredible line-up of talent. Love to see it happen. ‘Published’ sounds like a misanthropic has been; someone who has a history of stirring it up and now has to hide under a variety of hidden names. Not even worth a guess…a chuckle, maybe.

  14. I would like to formally apply for the band… OK, although I don’t have any Gold Medals of my own, I think that I should qualify by virtue of the fact that I have all the mentioned members World’s Greatest Piper’s CDs. Ok… after a good amount of thought and council from my peers I am formally changing my application to official waterboy”.”

  15. Wow! If it works, this new band could finally be the great shake-up to the piping world that everyone says will happen every year but (in the Grade 1 event at the Worlds at least) never actually comes to pass. On the subject of new bands, has anyone heard of definite grading arrangements regarding the new Fife Constabulary band? I have heard from sources in Fife that there will be a Grade 1 band, Grade 4 band, gala” non-competitive band and a novice juvenile band. Can anyone confirm/deny this?”

  16. You guys shouldn’t be so hard on Published, whoever they may be. Most of the time those opinions bring you all out of the closet and grace us with your knowledge and experience that most of us can only dream of. I like the varying opinions and some even make me chuckle. Black/White, Good/Bad, Right/Wrong, Point/Counterpoint is a better seller then a vanilla commentary anyday. Those disturbing opinions that you smart guys dislike sometimes embolden your stance. So thank those Published opinions instead of mocking them. It keeps people coming back again and again. And that’s great for this website’s staying power. Now, back to the matter at heart. Should this All-Star band who have never played together, competed together be allowed to enter the Grade 1 competition circuit in the RSPBA or do they go into Grade 2 for 1 year and prove themselves. Can they produce musical uniqueness immediately or do they have to grow it over time? Thank you for your time folks.

  17. This is very exciting news! I am really happy for those involved in the project and look forward to hearing the results. Great to see John and Hoss playing again.

  18. Amazing group of folks. If I may suggest resurrecting a great name from the past….at least some of my Ontario mates surely remember the Buckley Distillery” from the Dutton games the one year way back when? THAT was an all-star band!”

  19. Sounds brilliant !!…….like a modern version if Invergordon that could prove to be a circuit breaker with the top Grade 1 Bands……great to see Rob Crozier (of the masterful VPPB)involved…..he’s been too long out of the Grade 1 Pipe Band scene and if he has anything to do with tuning……they will be even more formidable……I really hope it gets off the ground, the RSPBA accept it and I wish Roddy and the new outfit all the very best….Cheers….

  20. wow another all-star band…great to see. I heard slayer and district at kansas city and my god were they fantastic. would be great to see the two bands go head to head with both bands having so much talent among the rosters.

  21. I think that people are missing the point when it comes to who’s involved in this venture. I know 2 guys from the Power. And what Roddy has done for their playing and aspects of playing is tremendous. What that guy can do with a person who carries and demonstrates talent is amazing, let alone leading a pipe band. Bringing any group of pipers together as a band has its challenges, including top soloists. But I would be confident that Roddy is a guy amongst many who is capable of making this happen. You can’t look at what’s happened in the past and compare the potential of this new upcoming band to that. I don’t think this needs explaining. If you exclude the hype of the fact that top graded soloists are getting together to form a Grade1 band and focus on the fact that these top players are being led by a fully capable PM…..then it has to be said that they have a good chance of doing well, granted drumming and ensemble are at the required strength. The problems of getting together as a band are one of the major aspects of getting this off the ground and wish everyone involved all the best.

  22. Andrew, did you write your A frequent-flyer point” blogpipe entry before or after you knew about this? If before your powers of prophecy are awesome! Any tips for the horses this afternoon?”

  23. Good catch, Chris. The truth is, I didn’t know about the Travelling All-Stars Band concept until after that blog post. Hmmm, maybe Roddy got the idea here! Funny, some Grade 1 bands seem to be moving away from using long-distance players, choosing instead to build locally, even if it means slightly reduced numbers. The only time I’ve been to a horse race-track was a few years ago on a work outing (!!). Everyone got $10 to bet. I went home with $75. Always put your money down on Throwaway (a free p|d subscription goes to the first reader who gets that reference!).

  24. Ah, just a request for clarification if possible – will the Bling Band be competing this year or next? clearly the article was deliberately grey on this. Just wondering if we need to suspend our disbelief/withold the hype until next year. 18 months is a virtual lifetime in pipe band years these days.

  25. The shoe-boy at Glasgow Central Station has advised that the RSPBA are to pilot a new scheme at this year’s World Championships. Each Grade I band shall submit 3 marches, 3 strathspeys, but they shall play a reel of their own choice.. Should suit the new band pretty well? All the best to a great bunch of guys, and an excellent Pipe Major.

  26. Will be fun to watch if it really happens. Seems there would be lots of work to be done if they are going after grade one. Filling the drum positions would be a challenge I suspect. Best of luck to the new band. Curt

  27. Sounds terrific! John travels annually to our fair province of Manitoba to share his ample drumming knowledge with our boys and we love those visits. He is GREAT! Good luck with your endeavors .

  28. What an incredible line-up of talent. Love to see it happen. ‘Published’ sounds like a misanthropic has been; someone who has a history of stirring it up and now has to hide under a variety of hidden names. Not even worth a guess…a chuckle, maybe.



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