Published: August 24, 2015

Graham Brown new L-D for St. Thomas Alumni

Only a week after winning the 2015 World Pipe Band Championship, and after nine collective years of being a snare drummer with Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, Graham Brown is leaving the band to become the leading-drummer of the Grade 2 St. Thomas Alumni Pipe Band of Houston.

Brown, who now lives in Las Vegas, made the decision to take on the new role partly because of the travel and time commitment involved with sustaining membership in Shotts. He has been a leading-drummer before, having held the post with the Grade 1 Peel Regional Police from 2007-’12, including a year when his brother, Glenn, who is now pipe-sergeant with Shotts, was pipe-major. The Browns are originally from Milton, Ontario, Canada.

Graham Brown with Shotts at the 2015 World Pipe Band Championships. [Photo: Paul Brown]
Graham Brown replaces Zach Goodrick, who will remain with the band as a corps drummer.

Under Pipe-Major Jamie Gattinger, St. Thomas Alumni has enjoyed good success, including top-six placings at the World Championships in Grade 2 for four straight years (2011-‘14), including a second in 2012. Gattinger was previously pipe-major of now-defunct Grade 1 Alberta Caledonia.

St. Thomas Alumni also announced that Mike Cusack is the new pipe-sergeant of the band. Cusack is by far the most successful US-born competition solo piper in history, with both Gold Medals and two Clasps, among many other awards, to his name. He is currently Headmaster of St. Thomas Episcopal School, a private institution in Houston. Cusack was pipe-major of the St. Thomas Juvenile Pipe Band for many years, including when it won the Juvenile grade at the World’s.

“I’d like to thank Jamie Gattinger, Zach Goodrick, and Mike Cusack for the opportunity to be involved with one of the most talented organizations in North America,” Brown said. “I’m extremely excited to see what we can do not only in the immediate short term, but also what we can build St. Thomas Alumni into for the future. The nine years I spent with Shotts & Dykehead have been the most incredible pipe band years of my life. [Pipe-Major] Ryan Canning and [Leading-Drummer] Jim Kilpatrick have both been incredibly supportive in my decision to take the helm at St. Thomas. The amount I’ve learned from both of them is vast, and I intend to bring that knowledge to St. Thomas Alumni.”

St. Thomas Alumni is separate from the school, running autonomously, and none of the positions with the group are paid, although private teaching opportunities could exist.

Gattinger said that St. Thomas Alumni plans to compete in Grade 2 at the 2016 World Championships.

Here is a video of Graham Brown performing with Pipe-Major John Cairns of the Peel Regional Police at the 2012 Pipes+Drums event at Piping Live!, sponsored by pipes|drums Magazine.

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