January 31, 2006

Polkemmet gives two-week warning

The Grade 2 Polkemmet Pipe Band of Whitburn, Scotland, one of the longest-running civilian bands in the world, has announced that if it does not attract a decent drum corps to join its pipe section of 19 players, the band may dissolve.

“With a solid corps of 19 quality pipers . . . we are in a position to challenge for major honours in the forthcoming season,” says Pipe-Major David Barnes. “Since September last year we have been told by no less than 15 drummers that they would be joining the band, however all of these have proved to be false promises. If no drummers can be found quickly then the only option may be to release all the current players which would subsequently mean the disbandment of this organization.”

Since its most successful years Grade 1 in the 1980s and early 1990s, Polkemmet has fallen on hard times, barely hanging after being relegated to Grade 2. Barnes, who led the band to the only RSPBA Major Championships in its history in 1991, and a second prize at the World Pipe Band Championships that year, moved to Australia in the mid-1990s to run the Queensland Police Pipe Band.

Barnes returned to Scotland in 2004 and soon took back the reins of Polkemmet, a band that his father, the legendary Johnny Barnes, ran in the 1960s, ’70s, and early ’80s.

If Polkemmet were to fold it would be the second Scottish band to do so this winter. The Drambuie-Kirkliston Pipe Band decided to dissolve in December after losing its sponsorship.

Those interested in joining Polkemmet may contact the band via e-mail.


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