The Scottish-Canadian country music star Johnny Reid is in the midst of his 47-city “What Love is All About” tour across Canada, and he’s incorporating at least four local pipe band drummers into each show.
The tour began on February 1st in Vancouver and wraps up in Newfoundland on April 4th, with stops at famous stages like Massey Hall in Toronto.
Reid, who’s originally from Lanarkshire, Scotland, and emigrated with his family to Toronto when he was 13, works with his management to identify pipe bands in each region, then asks if they can put forward four snare drummers. They then receive audio of “My Heart Beats Like a Drum,” the drum score and instructions to prepare in advance.
Drummers as young as 11 have so far performed to packed halls, and at Reid’s tour stop in Regina, Saskatchewan, drummers from the Conservatory of Performing Arts Pipe Band (University of Regina) band played three shows. Reid reportedly treats the drummers as VIPs at every stop and ensures that each player receives union musician rates for their time.
He asked the Regina drummers what they had planned for the summer, and they enthusiastically talked about their plan to join with the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) group to travel to the Fredericton Highland Games in New Brunswick.
On top of their performance fees, Reid showed up the next day with a “big cheque” for the band to help with the cost of the trip.
Reid started the tour with pipers, but changed to drummers only, and the tour so far has hired more than 80 pipe band snare drummers, including L-D Gregor Merry of the RCMP E. Division Pipe Band of Vancouver, the Rocky Mountain of Calgary, the North Stratton of Edmonton, and 13 bands from Ontario, Dartmouth & District of Nova Scotia.
“Everyone is having a blast and it’s great to see snare drummers getting the limelight for a change,” said Mike Chisholm, who is working with Reid’s tour to identify and organize the drummers.
Johnny Reid has recorded more than 10 albums, with eight certified platinum (four several times over) in Canada. He has won five JUNO Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the USA’s Grammys, and in 2014 a SOCAN Award for his song, “Fire It Up.”