January 31, 2009

Readers have chosen: SFU, Walker, Maxwell, FMM take in awards

The first annual pipes|drums’ Readers’ Choice Awards brought in thousands of votes via the magazine’s online poll system and in the end it was the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, Gordon Walker, Reid Maxwell and the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band that emerged as the big winners.
As a complement to the pipes|drums New Year’s Honours, where winners are determined by a panel of a dozen of the world’s leading pipers and drummers, the pipes|drums’ Readers Choice Awards put the power in the hands of all readers by way of their mouse. Attempts to stuff the virtual ballot boxes were quelled, as much as possible, through the deletion of multiple votes from single Internet protocol addresses.
Click to enlargepipes|drums’ Readers Choice Award: 2008 Pipe Band of the Year
With a full 33% of the votes, the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band of Vancouver emerged victorious, just as they did at the 2008 World Pipe Band Championships. SFU enjoyed another stellar season, and were clearly the most popular band in this year’s awards.
Finishing second in voting, with 20%, was Bagad Cap Caval of Brittany, winners of the Grade 2 event at the World’s and their own Breton Championships. Third-place went to 2008 RSPBA Champion of Champions St. Laurence O’Toole of Dublin, with 18% of the vote. Then it was Spirit of Scotland, named Pipe Band of the Year in pipes|drums’ New Year’s Honours, with 10%; Toronto Police, 9%; Belfast’s Field Marshal Montgomery, 6%; and Scotland’s House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead with 4%.

Click to enlargepipes|drums’ Readers Choice Award: 2008 Piper of the Year
Gordon Walker of Galston, Scotland, named Competition Piper of the Year in the 2008 pipes|drums’ New Year’s Honours’ panel of experts, emerged as the substantial winner of the Readers’ Choice Award, with 22% of the vote, clearly outpacing the runner-up, Pipe-Major Terry Lee of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, who gained 15% of all votes. Walker’s popularity as a recitalists and competitor is clear, and his magical hands are the stuff of legend.
In third, with 12%, was Pipe-Major Terry Tully of St. Laurence O’Toole, followed by Spirit of Scotland Pipe-Major and Piping Live! Director Roddy MacLeod, who gained 11%. MacLeod was named Piper of the Year in the magazine’s New Year’s Honours. Argyllshire Gathering Gold Medallist Niall Stewart of Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland, was next with 10%; followed by Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland, Surrey, British Columbia’s Alan Bevan and Pipe-Major Richard Parkes of Field Marshal Montgomery each with 6%. Chris Armstrong of Scotland, New Zealand’s Greg Wilson and Robert Mathieson, pipe-major of House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead finished up the voting with 5%, 4% and 3% of the votes, respectively.

Click to enlarge.pipes|drums’ Readers Choice Award: 2008 Drummer of the Year
As it was with the New Year’s Honours, Reid Maxwell, leading-drummer of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, emerged the winner of the Readers’ Choice Award, with an overwhelming 44% of the total vote. Maxwell’s leading SFU to another World Drum Corps prize, teaching and adjudication proved too popular for 2008 World Solo Drumming Champion Barry Wilson of Glasgow, who took in 26% of the votes cast.
Then it was a trio of House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead drummers rounding out the category, with the Jim Kilpatrick garnering 13%, and tenor-drummers Scott Currie and Tyler Fry respectively taking 9% and 8%.

Click to enlarge.pipes|drums’ Readers Choice Award: 2008 Recording of the Year
It was Field Marshal Montgomery’s early-year DVD release, REWIND:REPLAY, that captured 28% of the vote to take home the 2008 pipes|drums’ Readers’ Choice Award for Recording of the Year. Just as the band did with its New Year’s Honour, the critically acclaimed production proved popular with the masses, narrowly beating out Seattle’s Jori Chisholm’s late-year CD, Bagpipe Revolution, which enjoyed 26% of votes.
The Gordon Duncan Tribute Concert, the live Greentrax recording of multiple artists, took away 14%, while the Australia Highlanders’ CD without fear gained 9%. Roddy MacLeod’s Piobaireachd Volume 1 had 9% of votes, Alasdair Gillies’s Lochbroom, 8%, Patrick Molard’s The Waking of the Bridegroom 5% and Niall Matheson’s Shores of Loch Ness, released very late in 2008, picked up 2%.                                                        
Congratulations to all winners and nominees, and thank you to all who voted!


  1. Simon’s a great band and that but I voted myself for Toronto polis.. Thought them and the Spirit were the only two bands that made a real difference to the scene. Shotts as well maybe. The rest was just more of the same old same old.

  2. I took the voting for pipe band of the year to be based on the band performances, not whether the band was different to the norm. On that basis, at the Worlds in particular, SFU were, in my opinion, outstanding. I’ve personally never heard ensemble as good as that in the 25 years I’ve been in and around pipe bands.

  3. I agree with Jamie Green – SFU were fantastic. Ensemble was tremendous, as it should be. TPPB, while not really floating my boat with their medley (of sorts) are doing their thing and good luck to them. They’ll have a blast in Lorient. A good band. Shotts did an about face in the circle in the dying seconds of a medley. That’s it. They also checked the rules first, so just how ‘radical’ was this? I think they did it because they are Shotts and can get away with it. I can’t see a lesser-known doing that in the qualifier. They’d be howled down and many would critcise them for falling on their sword with a cheap and far from radical gimmick. In 50+ years of world PB championships, it is a sad reflection on all if this is the most exciting, or even rates as exciting, thing that has happened. Change will happen. Some just want to be seen as the ones who are affecting it. Spirit of Scotland is a great concept and a stellar pipe corps resulted. But far from original or defining for the rest of us. They simply proved that where there is talent and experience, there is a good chance that a high quality band will emerge. Nothing that shakes the ground here. SFU for me. A top band playing Sinclair chanters. No other chanter comes close to it.



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