Published: July 31, 2005

Updated: Grade 4 band loses pipe-major and still nearly wins championship

Even though its pipe-major quit just an hour before the Grade 4 McComb Memorial was to compete at the Chatham Highland Games, the band finished second at the PPBSO championship on July 9.

“I don’t know exactly what happened, but we watched as he simply left the circle, packed up his stuff, and left,” said a member of the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario-based band. “He yelled a bit in the parking lot, but I didn’t hear it.”

According to former Pipe-Major Ron Wilson, leading-drummer Rob Gardner informed the band before the Chatham games that he would be leaving after the season. Wilson, who says he has an excellent rapport with Gardner, added that he would also be leaving, since he didn’t want to continue without him.

“I did say that I would take the band to Chatham and that if anyone had a problem with how I do things, all they had to do was let me know and I would leave,” says Wilson.

According to Wilson, when the band got to the competition several pipers staged a “mini-sit-down-strike,” would not fall in for massed bands when asked, and were “uncooperative during our tuning up after massed bands. I had enough and packed it in.”

The band decided to play anyway, and Pipe-Sergeant Kyle Sweet led McComb Memorial onto the field and to a second prize. The band had a first in piping.

“The band has a very positive attitude about the changes,” the piper continues, “and we have a feeling that we are about to expand in our membership due to this.”

Sweet gave the command at the line as, “By the rolls, let’s rock and roll.”

Wilson added: “I’ve taught young people who have taken prizes in Grade 1 Strathspey & Reel, Grade 3 March and Strathspey & Reel, Grade 4 March, Intermediate Piobaireachd and practice chanter competitions. Some of them have played with [Grade 1 and 2] bands. I don’t want my name sullied unnecessarily because of band politics.”

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