Updated: Shotts celebrates 100 with events, website; bolsters ranks with new players
In today’s pipe band climate of fleeting fortune, financial challenges and ever-changing personnel, it’s hard enough to last a decade, let alone a century, but 100 years are exactly what House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead is marking in 2010, and they plan to celebrate in style.
The band has also brought in new players, including Greg McAllister, the 16-year-old grandson and great-grandson, respectively, of legendary Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia pipe-majors Tom McAllister Sr. and Tom McAllister Jr. The young McAllister joins after learning the pipe band craft with the North Lanarkshire Schools Pipe Band, which now serves as a de facto feeder system for the big band. Three other young pipers from North Lanarkshire Schools have also come on board.
Greg McAllister is the fourth-generation McAllister to play with the band, and he plays his grandfather’s silver-and-ivory-mounted Sinclair drones, which were presented to him last year by his father, Ewan, who was a member of the band in the 1970s and ’80s. (Tom McAllister Jr. and Greg McAllister are pictured on the homepage; Tom McAllister is holding Shotts & Dykehead’s 1976 Grammy Awards nomination.)
Other players coming on to the Shotts roster include Gavin Walker, formerly of the Strathclyde Police; David Barnes, ex-Pipe-Major of the Grade 1 Lothian & Borders Police; Craig Munro, the former Pipe-Major of Clydebank; and rising solo star Calum Moffat.
Mathieson added that the “centenary band” has a total of 53 members on the roster – 32 pipers and 21 drummers. The group has benefitted from players coming from mainly the Strathclyde Police, Boghall & Bathgate, Torphichen & Bathgate and Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary, and include pipers Chris Djurachek, Fiona Mitchell, Graham MacKay and Jamie Smith and drummers David Ross, Steven Shedden, Jennifer Sinclair and Scott Currie.
“I know it’s too big a band to field in competition but it’s nice to have the choice of players and watch everyone playing for their spot throughout the winter,” Mathieson said. “The competing band will not change much in size from last year, but hopefully will be stronger in presentation.”
To mark its centenary, the band has made a limited edition necktie to be worn in 2010. Only 100 ties have been made, and will be issued to band members and select others, making it a collector’s item in the pipe band world.
Shotts’s relationship with North Lanarkshire Schools started in 2005 with Shotts Pipe-Major Robert Mathieson and other band members taking on the new teaching program. The partnership has been formalized further recently, with Shotts piper Ross Cowan and drummer Stephen Nelson teaching in full-time paid positions.
“Hopefully the schools piping and drumming initiative will be a solid building block for the next 100 years of Shotts pipe band,” Mathieson said.
Also to mark the 100th anniversary, the band has created a new website that tracks the history of the band since 1900 with photos, anecdotes and interactive features. The band also plans to mount an exhibition of Shotts & Dykehead memorabilia at the Glasgow College of Piping during the week before the 2010 World Pipe Band Championships. Mathieson said that the band invites anyone with photographs, memorabilia, chat, stories, anecdotes or other archive material to contact the band.