Harry’s 2015 Raspberry Awards

Published: January 2, 2016

Well, dear readers, it’s been a bonny year among the heathens, I mean, heather, and Harry’s got a brand new crop of Raspberry Awards for your consideration. Of course, readers will have their own thoughts, and we look forward to hearing yours. Unlike the epic fail videos that you insist on watching at work, no one here is going to hurt their head falling off a bike, but Harry’s still got a sair heid on New Beers Day.

Shall we begin?

Let’s . . .


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The 14th annual pipes|drums New Year’s Honours

Published: December 31, 2015

What a wonderful strange year it was for piping and drumming in 2015 and, as we have done every year since 2001, we bring our many thousands of faithful readers the annual pipes|drums New Year’s Honours.

We assembled another terrific panel of 20 expert pipers and drummers who follow the scene closely, and who read pipes|drums every day to stay in touch with the news. Each panellist was asked to complete a survey and provide their personal comments. We provided nominees in each category, and also allowed panellists to submit their choice of winner in case we missed it and they felt strongly enough to put forward the piper, drummer, band, product or event.

As always, we strived to ensure that each panellist had no overlapping bias or interest. We guaranteed their anonymity, since we never want any undue influence from outside parties.

As with past years, there are seven categories:

  • Pipe Band of the Year
  • Piper of the Year (encompassing all aspects of their work)
  • Solo Competition Piper of the Year (considering strictly competing success)
  • Drummer of the Year
  • Product of the Year
  • Recording of the Year
  • Event of the Year

In every area there was strong debate and votes were close. To be sure, any band, person or product mentioned deserves huge praise. We have included a sample of panellists’ comments for each.

Congratulations to all winners on their impressive, prestigious success!

By the right, quick, honour . . .


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Record Winter Storm snowed with entries

Published: December 30, 2015

The 15th annual Winter Storm competition, workshop and recital in Kansas City next year January 15-17 will see another new record number of registrations to the solo competitions and workshops, with more than 200 and 300, respectively.

And to cope with the higher numbers, Winter Storm organizer Cliff Davis said that the teaching faculty for the workshops is also the biggest ever, with no fewer than 26 pipers, drummers and drum-majors on the roster. Pipe band luminaries Richard Parkes, pipe-major of Field Marshal Montgomery; Terry Tully, former pipe-major of St. Laurence O’Toole; and RSPBA adjudicator Paul Turner each are making their first appearance at the popular event.

The closing concert at the 2015 Winter Storm.

Davis said that the order-of-play for the solo competitions will be posted in the coming weekend, and that the closing concert is projected to sell-out at its earliest point ever.

Following the concert another new element has been added to the “Winter Steam” celebration: a free-form contest for “any and all pipers and drummers to enter” on-site, carrying a US$1,000 prize for first and a prize of US$500 for second.

Winter Storm also again plans to livestream the highest-grade competitions, including the Gold Medal Ceol Beag qualifying contest, the Gold Medal Piobaireachd, the Ceol Beag final, the Gold Medal Snare Drumming final and the awards ceremony.

Winter Storm was first staged in 2002 and is organized by the non-profit Midwest Highland Arts Fund. The event has inspired similar competiton-recital-workshops, most recently the 2015 Spring Gatherin’ event in Belfast.

The top 15 p|d stories of 2015

Published: December 26, 2015


In 2015 pipes|drums brought you nearly 300 articles reporting developments in the piping and drumming world, from news about pipe bands, associations and events, to results from important competitions around the globe.

With the year winding down, be took a look at the body of reporting from the last 12 months, and worked to whittle down from that 300 to get to the 15 most important stories of the year. It’s a subjective process, and our approach was to consider the overall impact that each story had on piping and drumming. We strived to see the big picture, and your list will no doubt vary.

We note that we will leave out the deaths of important figures in piping and drumming, because, to us, there’s something not right about ranking one life over another.

So here it is, in reverse order, the 15 most important pipes|drums stories of 2015:


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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Published: December 24, 2015

As the world’s pipers and drummers pause with family and friends, pipes|drums Magazine wishes all of our readers a Merry Christmas!

It’s been another great year for us, and we thank you for keenly following us throughout 2015. We counted just more than 320,000 unique visitors and more than 1.1-million visits overall to the magazine in the last 12 months, accounting for more than 4.3-million page-views in 2015 alone!

We brought our readers more than 75 full-length feature articles and, overall, more than 325 original stories came your way in 2015 – by far our most active year.

Not only that, but we brought you 74 exclusive videos to you in 2015, each available for free from the pipes|drums YouTube Channel.

In July we launched our new free mobile app for iPhone and Android, putting pipes|drums in the hands and tablets of readers everywhere!

Of course, we can’t do it without the help of the world’s best writers on piping and drumming. There are dozens of readers who provide results and information, but these are the people who provided you their insight and wisdom, whether through interviews, feature stories or reviews, over the last year:

  • Alistair Aitken
  • Euan Anderson
  • Chris Armstrong
  • Alan Bevan
  • Andrew Bonar
  • Malcolm Bow
  • Hugh Cameron
  • Jeannie Campbell
  • Megan Canning
  • Ryan Canning
  • Allan Chatto
  • Gus Clarke
  • Jamie Cuthill
  • Willie Donaldson
  • Ian Duncan
  • Thomas Doucet
  • Lindsey Ellis
  • Scott Fletcher
  • Bruce Gandy
  • Maggie Gordon
  • Sandy Grant-Gordon
  • Michael Grey
  • Jenny Hazzard
  • Patricia Henderson
  • Nick Hudson
  • Jake Jeorgensen
  • Jim Kilpatrick
  • Jack Lee
  • Bill Livingstone
  • Iain MacDonald
  • Lynda Mackay
  • Colin MacLellan
  • Derek Maxwell
  • Liz Maxwell
  • Reid Maxwell
  • Gus McAskill
  • Willie McCallum
  • Ben McClamrock
  • Jim McGillivray
  • Adrian Melvin
  • Rodney Murphy
  • Neil Nicholson
  • Matt Pantaleoni
  • Gordon Parkes
  • Richard Parkes
  • Chris Ross
  • Gareth Rudolph
  • Anne Spalding
  • Tom Speirs
  • Jack Taylor
  • Harry Tung
  • Gary West
  • Helen Wilkinson
  • Ross Walker
  • Bob Worrall

To all of them and the dozens more who provided news tips, predictions, data and comments during 2015 – thank you.

And we especially want to thank our subscribers and advertisers. These are the folks who allow us to maintain pipes|drums, because the magazine is completely non-profit – all proceeds are plowed back in to maintenance and development. We appreciate your support and will continue to work to ensure that we return great value on your investment.

For those of you who don’t yet subscribe, but have enjoyed pipes|drums, we encourage you to invest a nickel a day to have access to all of the magazine’s current and archived content. And remember to shop from our advertisers – these organizations are not only top-flight purveyors of drumming and piping product, but they are true patrons of our arts.

We’ll finish 2015 with even more stories and features, and we’re already hard at work on exclusive articles for 2016.

From all of the staff here in the north tower of the editorial wing of the GHB Communications here in Building 1 on the pipes|drums campus, have a Merry Christmas and all the best for a terrific 2016.

Thanks for subscribing and for reading!

Last minute gift? How about a p|d subscription!


Tick-tock. The metronome is clicking. The shops are shutting. It’s too late for that gizmo to arrive in time. The Jolly Big Man in Red (and we don’t mean Bob Shepherd) is on his way. You still need to get your favourite piper or drummer a gift for the holidays. What’s a desperate, thoughtful person to do?

Never fear – we are here to help!

A pipes|drums Gift Subscription is truly the present that keeps on presenting. Every day of the year our subscribers get to enjoy every one of the more than 5,000 articles in our archive that spans nearly 20 years. A subscriber gets access to those special exclusive pieces, such as the great article published just yesterday.

For a scant $14.99 or £6 that means four cents or less than two pence a day. Four pennies or two p!

Jings! You can’t even get one granny sooker or a crumb of tablet or one penny-chew for two pennies today!

You can designate the day that your recipient will get his or her email message about their gift subscription. (Also a great gift idea for birthdays, New Year, St. Andrew’s Day, or even Columbus Day!)

Now, here’s the extra: by subscribing, you contribute to the sustainability of the non-profit publication. Yes, you are helping the many thousands of readers who can’t afford a subscription, but who read and rely on pipes|drums every single day to keep them up-to-date on developments in the piping and drumming world. We don’t sell anything but subscriptions and advertising. We’re not trying to lure you into an online shop or coaxing you into taking lessons with us.

Every penny that we bring in goes back into the publication, and anything left over goes to worthwhile piping and drumming causes – events and topics that you might actually also enjoy personally.

So stuff that stocking! Send your preferred piper, drummer or enthusiast the most thoughtful and valuable present of all – a subscription to pipes|drums.

But, hey, regardless of what you do, we wish you a merry Christmas and happy New Year all the same, and may your hose be filled with soor plumes, dolly mixture and joy year-round.

Dr. McKerrell launches book on Scottish traditional music

Published: December 20, 2015

The top-flight solo piper Simon McKerrell, a Senior Lecturer in Music and Head of the International Centre for Music Studies at Newcastle University, will formally launch his new book Focus: Scottish Traditional Music at Celtic Connections in Glasgow on January 16th at the Strathclyde Suite at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

McKerrell said that the 174-page work is the first comprehensive introduction to Scottish traditional music since Francis Collinson’s 1969 Traditional and National Music of Scotland, and should appeal to any Highland pipers interested in their music.

Focus: Scottish Traditional Music “examines Scottish music through social and performative contexts, outlining vocal traditions such as lullabies, mining songs, Scottish ballads, herding songs, and protest songs as well as instrumental traditions such as fiddle music, country dances, and informal evening pub sessions. Case studies explore the key ideas in understanding Scotland musically by exploring ethnicity, Britishness, belonging, politics, transmission and performance, positioning the cultural identity of Scotland within the United Kingdom.”

Simon McKerrell

“It’s something I wanted to do for a while – part textbook and part research book for other scholars and postgraduates,” McKerrell said. “With the resurgence of performance, [there’s been] a real growth in the scholarship in the last two decades. Lots of key people like Gary West, Jo Miller, Stuart Eydmann, Mairi McFadyen, Stephanie Conn (a native Canadian), Will Lamb, Josh Dickson, Hugh Cheape, Karen McAulay, Katherine Campbell . . . have been publishing quite a bit of material on both historical and contemporary notions of Scottish traditional music. The referendum here was also a spur for me and the book tries to situate piping within the much broader spectrum of social life.”

Among many competition prizes, McKerrell has won the Dunvegan Medal and the Dunvegan Clasp three times. He gained a PhD in 2005 from the University of St. Andrews in Scottish Competition Bagpipe Performance: Sound, Mode and Aesthetics, following being one of the first graduates of the Bachelor of Arts (Scottish Music) degree program at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama in Glasgow in 2000.

Students from the Newcastle University folk degree program will perform with students at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in a traditional music concert following the official launch of the book.

Vale of Atholl working to expand

Published: December 18, 2015

ValeofAtholl_logo_2013Scotland’s Grade 1 Vale of Atholl Pipe Band has embarked on a major recruitment drive with the hope of expanding its ranks for a 2016 season “relaunch.”

The band, officially from Pitlochry but which practices in Perth, is looking to add “experienced pipers and drummers” to all three sections, but stresses that “there is the opportunity for groups of players from other parts of the country to have regional practices, making good use of digital media and reducing the need to travel to some of the Perth practices.”

It’s thought to be the first time that the Vale, which has competed in Grade 1 since 1983, has looked beyond the Perthshire region for members in a significant way, although many players over the years have resided elsewhere.

In addition to competitions, the band continues its tradition of pushing musical boundaries on stage, including this year performing at BBC Alba’s Hogmanay Ceilidh live on television on New Year’s Eve, considered an honour for bands to be invited. The Vale performed extensively at last year’s Ryder Cup golf tournament, held at Gleneagles in Perthshire, and broadcast worldwide. In recent  years the group has travelled to Spain and Switzerland to perform.

Vale of Atholl performing at Crieff Highland Games in 2014.

The band is also currently searching for sponsorship, following several decades of support from organizations like McNaughton’s, Robert Wiseman Dairies, and ScotRail. The Vale hopes to build on current funding for its teaching program that it delivers for regional schools and in the community, which has been fully funded by grants and awards from external parties. The band was an early adopter of the feeder-band system, which has contributed to its longevity in Grade 1 with “home-grown” players.

The Vale of Atholl organization, which, in addition to the Grade 1 band, has bands in Grade 4B and 3A, expects to see its new teaching program to bear fruit to support the organization at all levels. Particularly with drummers, pipe bands in Scotland generally have a difficult time attracting high-quality players from Scotland’s central belt to come north.

The band reportedly had been in the running to secure Jim Kilpatrick as leading-drummer, but following apparent discussions, no agreement could be reached. The Vale is still searching for a leading-drummer to replace Alistair “Bongo” McNab, who stepped down after the 2015 season.

Interested players should contact Pipe-Major Adrian Cramb with a summary of their playing experience, if needed.

Kilpatrick raises Spirit, lands with all-star band

Published: December 16, 2015

The Spirit of Scotland Grade 1 band of all-star pipers and drummers that created news in 2008 when it assembled for one week to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships, is the new home for Leading-Drummer Jim Kilpatrick, after two months of rumours and controversy.

Kilpatrick will join the band for the entire 2016 season of RSPBA major championships, culminating with the World’s, where it is thought that he will retire formally from an illustrious career, that has included 16 World Solo Championships and dozens of major championship drumming titles.

Pipers in Spirit of Scotland competing in the 2008 World’s Final (L-R: Roddy MacLeod, Wilson Brown, Niall Stewart, Andrew Berthoff, Finlay Johnston and Angus MacColl).

As with the 2008 Spirit of Scotland, the band will be led by Pipe-Major Roddy MacLeod, and Kilpatrick will bring with him a team of drummers, many of whom played with him in the Grade 1 Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, which he departed under controversial circumstances in October.

Snare drummers in the band will include Dougie Brown, John Fisher, Steven Graham, Davey Henderson, Carl Lenny, Simon Lipp, Steven Nelson, David Proudfoot, David Ross and Barry Wilson, and a bass section of Ashleigh Byers, Scott Currie, Tyler Fry, David MacDonald, Seonaid McIntosh, Marteen Nicoll and Fiona Wilson.

Of particular note, four-time World Solo Drumming winner and former L-D of ScottishPower, Barry Wilson, comes out of retirement to play with the band. Wilson played for many years under Kilpatrick at Shotts & Dykehead before joining ScottishPower.

And another notable move is that John Fisher, who was the leading-drummer for Spirit of Scotland, will play in Kilpatrick’s corps, reuniting the two drumming legends for the first time in a band since they played in Shotts & Dykehead in the 1970s under then Leading-Drummer Alex Duthart.

Confirmed pipers include most of the members of the 2008 Spirit of Scotland, comprising numerous Clasp (*), Gold Medal (**) and Silver Medal (***) winners: Callum Beaumont,* Andrew Berthoff,*** Wilson Brown,** Gordon Bruce,*** Robert Crozier, Brian Donaldson,** Willie Evans, Jenny Hazzard,*** Peter Hunt, Finlay Johnston,** Angus MacColl,* Euan MacCrimmon,** Finlay MacDonald, Matt MacIsaac,*** Colin MacLellan,** Simon Marshall,*** Niall Matheson,** Willie McCallum,** Simon McKerrell, John Patrick,** Stuart Samson,** Stuart Shedden,** Innes Smith,*** Iain Speirs,* Niall Stewart,** Darach Urquhart and Gordon Walker.**

In a statement, MacLeod said, “Competing in 2016 for the entire season was not really on our radar although we have been tempted to try and reform the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band at some point for the right kind of new challenge. The availability of Jim . . . and the exceptional drum corps that he has assembled is a fantastic opportunity for us all to collaborate musically and so we are very excited by the prospect of working together for this season. We are welcoming back many of the original Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band that competed in 2008 as well as a number of new faces to the ranks. Jim Kilpatrick and I are both particularly pleased that we are able to retain the expertise of John Fisher, who led the drum corps in 2008.”

The move to resurrect Spirit of Scotland with a new Kilpatrick-led drum corps comes after many rumours and speculation as to where Kilpatrick would end up. Before reports of a Spirit of Scotland emerged, it was widely speculated that the great drummer would land with the Grade 1 Vale of Atholl, but pipes|drums confirmed and reported that that “news” was false.

Spirit of Scotland qualified for the Grade 1 Final at the 2008 World Pipe Band Championships, and ultimately finished eleventh overall. Members of the group reformed for concert and quartet performances a few times since 2008.

pipes|drums originally reported the strong rumour of the Spirit of Scotland arrangement in the magazine’s Trailing Drones chatter and satire feature of December 12th, along with the fact that 2008 Spirit of Scotland member Jim McGillivray has joined Inveraray & District for 2016.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for more on this story as it develops.

[Full disclosure: the editor of pipes|drums is a member of Spirit of Scotland.]

Drummers and pipers go to bat for ALS

Published: December 14, 2015

ALSCanada_logoA group of Ontario-based pipers and drummers, led by long-time Grade 1 drummer Scott Perrier, will band together in support of long-time friend and fellow pipe bandsman Murray Brown, with finds going to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The concert and performance will be on January 23, 2016, at the Canadian Bush Plane Museum in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, in association with the annual local Robert Burns Dinner and Ceilidh, which routinely attracts more than 500 attendees. Perrier has been working on the project with ALS Canada, and had created a website for donations and more information.

Sergeant Murray Brown

The lineup for the concert is still a work in progress, but performers so far include many drummers from Perrier’s days with the 78th Fraser Highlanders and other Ontario-based Grade 1 bands: Scott Benson , Doug Innes, Dave Fenton, Michael Hunter, Ian Madeiros, Ian Rollo, Alan Savage, Glenn Smith, Andre Tessier and Dan Weeks.

Murray Brown is a sergeant in the Thunder Bay Police and has played with numerous pipe bands for more than 30 years, including the Peel Regional Police, Maple Ridge, the Abbotsford Police and, for more than 16 years, the MacGillivray Pipe Band. He left the police force in January 2014 due to his condition.

To date the project has raised $500, and has a goal of reaching $10,000.

Canterbury takes fourth straight Palmerston North Square Day

Published: December 13, 2015

Canterbury_logoPalmerston North, New Zealand – December 12, 2015 – The Grade 1 Canterbury Caledonian Society took their fourth straight Jenny Mair Square Day event, the second-biggest contest of the New Zealand season. Conditions were windy but warm all day with some rain making for a challenging test. Grade 1 and Grade 2 were combined, with only one band from the latter grade entered.

Grade 1-2 Overall
1st Canterbury Caledonian
2nd New Zealand Police
3rd Auckland & District
4th Manawatu Scottish
5th Northern Caledonian (Gr2)

Canterbury Caledonian after winning again at Palmerston North.

1st Canterbury Caledonian (3,1,1,1)
2nd New Zealand Police (2,3,2,3)
3rd Manawatu Scottish (1,2,3,4)
4th Auckland & District (4,4,4,2)
5th Northern Caledonian (Gr2) (5,5,5,5)
Judges: Grant Shearer, Nigel Foster (piping); Scott Nicholson (ensemble); Wayne Hobbs (drumming)

1st Canterbury Caledonian (1,1,1,2)
2nd Auckland & District (3,2,2,3)
3rd New Zealand Police (2,4,4,1)
4th Manawatu Scottish (4,3,3,4)
5th Northern Caledonian (5,5,5,5)

Grade 3 Overall (four competed)
1st Red Hackle
2nd Manawatu Scottish (Gr3)
3rd City of Hastings
4th City of Wellington

Grade 4 Overall (nine competed)
1st Scottish Society of New Zealand
2nd City of Tauranga
3rd Scots College
4th Hamilton Caledonian
5th Wellington Red Hackle (Gr4)
6th Manawatu Scottish (Gr4)

A p|d subscription: the thoughtful gift for pipers and drummers!


Unless it’s to a greedy pipe-major or leading-drummer, why give 12 drummers drumming or 11 pipers piping when, if you were a real true love, you could give a far more useful and realistic present to that special piper or drummer in your life?

Give a gift subscription to pipes|drums Magazine!

We offer an easy way for those looking for a last-minute special something for that special someone, with delivery right on Christmas Day, or whatever day you prefer.

What’s more (or less, as the case may be), at only $14.99 (about £7.20) for an entire year of access to both subscriber-only and free content on pipes|drums, that’s an incredible four cents a day.

Isn’t your piper/drummer BFF worth four cents a day?

And a two-year subscription of $24.99 (£12) works out to astounding value of only three cents per day!

To send your gift, simply go to our Gift Subscription page, fill out the quick form, and designate when you would like your own gift email message to be delivered to your lucky piper, drummer or piping and drumming enthusiast.

You can be extra proud of your savvy choice knowing that pipes|drums is nonprofit, meaning we don’t pocket a nickel from the whole endeavor, with all subscription and advertising income plowed back in to the operation or donated to worthwhile nonprofit piping and drumming causes.

And while you’re securing your gift subscription, be sure to check out the fine array of gift ideas from pipes|drums advertisers, who also know excellent value and a great cause when they see it!

Trailing Drones: Runnin’ like the Tay with Harry

Published: December 12, 2015

Well, friends, yer pal Harry’s been fair enjoying a break frae bands, and he seems to have missed some carry on about a drum corps? “Easy come, easy go,” says Henrietta, or at least she used to say years back. These days, it’s more, “Close the door on yer way oot!” and generally, I do. Now Harry’s not wanting to brush any sporrans backwards, but hopefully we can all move on now to a wee tune or two?

Harry’s been seeing signs of the pipe band awakening Downunder, with a gaggle of players making their way down to fill in the ranks for AU/NZ bands, for a tune in the sun and a cold lager or two. Nice craic. Some buzz about the City of Whitehorse from Melbourne. They seem to be making a splash, which is fine, except Harry always thought Whitehorse was in the Yukon Territory? Henrietta says it might be time to take a wee trip to help out a band and learn the geography. Offered me a one-way ticket. My prediction for Whitehorse? Crowds will be shouting Mare! Mare!

Think of the airline points! Not half what Pipe-Major David Hilder will get for his monthly trips to Glasgow, though. The Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band announced this fall that they will be having Glasgow practices once-a-month for the UK membership. Harry’d love to jump on that bandwagon, but figures he’s just not good-looking enough to make the band. Sharp as a reedmaker’s gouge, those folks. I’m even willing to paint my nails!

All the sharing rage this autumn (well, maybe after all the Facebook screenshots of “OMG, did s/he say that?”) was “This is Your Fight Song” (Rachel Platten Scottish Cover) from “The Piano Guys.” Harry thought it was pretty good, too, but did they really have to deck out in the plaids and all? A tad cheesy, even for Harry, who fancies a bit of cheese, tastefully presented.

I hear that Inveraray & District has added Clasp-dude Jim McGillivray to its summer roster, but rumours going roon that Argyllshire native Willie McCallum is also joining seem to be false. Under the saying that small things come with big packages (wait . . . did I get that right? Yes, I did.), McGillivray is getting in on that Highland music action, hoping – like all of us – to cop a World’s title before he’s done. And right now IDPB sets up well as the fave to win in 2016.

The Great August Glasgow Green Gala is shaping up. Harry understands that several top-grade bands will be there for the first time or for the first time in a long time. From the south, New Zealand’s Manawatu Scottish and the aforementioned Whitehorse will be making the flying pony-trek; while from the east will come the Ottawa Police Service. There’s word that Bagad Cap Caval will return, sans bombards, and, of course, Bleary & District will wake up, rub the sleep from their eyes and make their unbleary/wide-awake debut on the Green in Grade 1.

Speaking of Manawatu, that band I understand has returned to their wood Sinclair chanters, a notoriously wild beast, but, when tamed, produce a sound that, to these old lugs, anyway, is as sweet and refined as a Glenfiddich 25. Just takes some patience and a lot of player-for-player skill.

On the other hand, Harry’s agents in the field tell me that the Grade 1 Denny & Dunipace are struggling for drummers, still searching for a leading-drummer solution. As with Vale of Atholl, they weren’t in on or opted out of the Jim Kilpatrick sweepstakes, preferring/hoping to go with a more permanent (read: younger) solution. But there are rumblings that the 16-time World Solo Champion and gazillion-times RSPBA major drumming champion wants to get behind the Spirit of Scotland all-star band, for all five majors or just the World’s, and then have a big retirement tribute at The Green. SOS! SOS!

The big announcements are one after the other, and Harry’s looking forward to catching a few concerts. First there’s the 78th Fraser Reunion Reenactment Big Band Ensemble at Celtic Connections (“the biggest pipe band event in history,” boasts one of the players not named Donald Trump), followed by the ScottishPower “Revolution” concert in Aberdeen, and the hands are already rubbing smartly the gither for Field Marshal Montgomery‘s “IMPACT” concert before the World’s. Henrietta read the story wrong, and thought the band was “IMPACTED” and she suggests a healthy dose of prunes, or maybe some slightly stale stout, or even some of that Gleska Polis Celery. “That’ll have ’em running like the Tay in spring,” she says.

So, from Henrietta and yer pal, Harry, Best Wishes for a Happy Christmas, a nowhere-near-sober Hogmanay, and crackin’ start to the new year of tunes, tunes, tunes.

Got scoop you’re just scratching to get off your chest? Send Harry a quick-tip email, and he’ll swear to keep your name out of it!

LA Scots go back to the future on bass

Published: December 10, 2015

LAScotslogo_2015Steve Foley is back in as bass drummer with the Grade 1 Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band, after a two-year absence that included playing with the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University Pipe Band in 2014 before having to leave the band due to work and family commitments.

Foley had been the bass drummer with LA Scots for longer than a decade before joining SFU. The LA Scots bass role had been held by Amber Bartholomeusz, who is remaining with the band as a tenor drummer and who, according to band president Scott MacDonald, voluntarily stepped aside due to work commitments.

“This was Amber’s decision and it worked out for Steve to return to the band,” MacDonald said, and added, “we have several new players and we are back practicing for next year.”

Steve Foley

When Foley went to SFU he took over from Kathryn Tawse, who retired, and when he left the band the bass was handed to Mackenzie Webster who remains in the position.

Foley has won numerous awards for his bass playing, and routinely conducts teaching workshops and seminars on the art of the big drum.

The move is the latest in LA Scots’ drum section. Early this year the band appointed Molly Steuber to the Leading-Drummer position after the departure of Bryce Parker to the Grade 2 St. Thomas Alumni Pipe Band of Houston. Parker held the post for one year following the dismissal of Glenn Kvidahl in September 2014.

p|d Throwback Thursday: Pipe Fitter


Bill Livingstone shares his secrets to piping into your 70s with his fitness regimen . . .

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FMM has one word for fans: IMPACT

Published: December 7, 2015

Ten-time World Pipe Band Champions Field Marshal Montgomery of Belfast have unveiled the official poster for the band’s August 10, 2016, Pre-World’s show at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, with another one-word title.

“IMPACT” is the name of the new show, which follows the band’s previous one-word-title concerts, including 2002’s “Unplugged” and 2007’s “RE:Charged.”

The Pre-World’s Concert, which is organized and promoted by the Grade 2 Glasgow Skye Association Pipe Band, is considered the premier live performance in the pipe band world, and often sells out the 2,700-seat hall.

Previous recent performers at the event are Simon Fraser University 2015 (“Nous Sommes Prêts“); Greater Glasgow Police Scotland 2014 (“Ceolry”); Inveraray & District 2013 (“Ascension”); and Peoples Ford-Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia (“Forte”).

A perennial favourite with many to win the World Championship, Field Marshal Montgomery settled for fourth in 2015, but took home the RSPBA Champion of Champions award for most aggregate points over the five major championships, winning the British, UK and European and finishing second at the Scottish.

Tickets to the new Field Marshal Montgomery show are priced at £19.50 and go on sale directly from the online box office of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Friday, December 11th.

Bruce Gandy: the p|d Interview – Part 5

Published: December 6, 2015

The final installment of our exclusive conversation with one of the world’s greatest pipers . . .

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Scots Trad Music Awards band of the year goes to Shotts

Published: December 5, 2015

Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia capped off a year for the ages after being announced the winner of the Scottish Pipe Band of the Year category at the 13th annual Scots Trad Music Awards at a gala evening event at the Caird Hall in Dundee, Scotland, December 5th. The Grade 1 band won the public vote after being nominated along with the Grade 2 Johnstone Pipe Band.

Both bands won their grades at this year’s World Pipe Band Championships.

Shotts & Dykehead at the 2015 World Pipe Band Championships.

The evening was a triumph for Highland piping, with Ross Ainslie winning the Composer of the Year award, against Marie Fielding, Peter Morrison, Rachel Walker, Sarah Hayes and Sorren Maclean. In addition to Highland pipes, Ainslie plays Border pipes and whistle and is a member of the popular Treacherous Orchestra band.

The opening concert by GRIT at the 2015 Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow was named Event of the Year, a category that has in the past been awarded to Piping Live! Glasgow International Festival of Piping, but it and the World Pipe Band Championships, also a frequent nominee, were not nominated for a 2015 Scots Trad Music Award.

Johnstone Pipe Band at the line at the Grade 2 Final at the 2015 World Pipe Band Championships.

The multiple Clasp-winner Murray Henderson performed with piper John Mulhearn’s Big Music Society at the gala.

Shotts & Dykehead’s year was highlighted by the two awards, and was further marked by the controversial departure of Leading-Drummer Jim Kilpatrick and subsequent changes in leaders to its drum section, with the band ultimately appointing Andrew Lawson to the post.

The Scots Trad Music Award’s aim is “to highlight Scotland’s wonderful traditional music in all its forms and to create a high profile opportunity which will bring the music and music industry into the spotlight of media & public attention.”

The 2015 pipes|drums Holiday Gift Guide!

Published: December 2, 2015

pipes|drums always likes to find ways to provide extras for our faithful subscribers and our important advertisers, and with our 2015 Holiday Gift Guide we bring the two ideas together!

We’re pleased to showcase items that many of our subscribers would like to highlight as great ideas for gifts for your favourite piper or drummer – or just yourself. And several advertisers are offering additional discounts for readers who have an active paid subscription to pipes|drums.

Don’t have a $14.99 annual subscription to the world’s most read piping and drumming publication? Just hit our subscription page and sign on so that you can take advantage of the discounts – and of course enjoy every one of the more than 5,000 articles in the p|d archive!

Discounts for subscribers are available only until December 25, 2015, unless otherwise noted.

When you take advantage of the subscriber discounts, make sure you have a copy of your PayPal payment to validate your active subscription status. Advertisers will also work with us to make sure buyers are active.

Our advertisers and our subscribers support the non-profit publication. We return that money back to the magazine and use whatever is left over to support worthy piping and drumming causes. So it’s a perfect combination: you support our advertisers, they support pipes|drums, we support piping and drumming!

Turn the pages to uncover suggested gifts and note the discounts – and merry Christmas!


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The Style Guy: sartorial suggestions for your situation

Published: November 30, 2015

It’s been awhile, and The Style Guy’s been saving up your questions on piping and drumming dress, your conundrums on kilts, your confusions on caps.

Let’s see what the mailbag holds . . .

Hey, Style Guy:

You’ve often talked about your desire for pipe bands to be original, to add a little flash to their flashes, to sporadically spot their sporrans, of even to tie-dye their ties. Is that happening? Are you seeing a trend towards the creative?

Tommy Gofigure

PS: Does anyone even listen to you?

Thanks for asking, Tommy. Sadly, to your first set of questions, the answer is no. Pipe bands are more predictable than ever. Apart from the slight distinction in their always-inoffensive tartans, there’s

The late Ed Neigh (front) and Geoff Neigh of the Guelph Pipe Band in the 1970s, one of the few bands to sport tweed and balmorals.

less and less to tell bands apart these days. Some might say that that is a good thing, as bands put more emphasis on the music and put more of their budget into instruments and travel, but their uniform dress is a creative element that can speak volumes about who they are, or once were.

Why can’t a band deck themselves out in nice Harris Tweed jackets and vests? What of the balmoral? How about making a bold move and give up the laced-ghillies for plain brogues? Or maybe burnt-orange shirts? Hey, wait! That’s the Guelph Pipe Band of the 1970s, today still one of the most elegant and distinctive ensembles ever put together.

I’d say the only top-grade band right now making a true statement with its tartan is St. Laurence O’Toole, because their kilts aren’t even tartan. They’re green. And what communicates the Emerald Isle of Ireland better than green?

And, to your final question, Yes, sometimes. I can’t take full credit, but the number of bands wearing short-sleeved shirts and vests/waistcoats is now tiny, and we have nearly eradicated the use of belts with vests/waistcoats. There are miles to go, though, before I sleep.


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Despite reports, Kilpatrick not joining Vale of Atholl

Published: November 28, 2015

Jim Kilpatrick

The Grade 1 Vale of Atholl has confirmed that Jim Kilpatrick, the former Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia and Polkemmet leading-drummer and 16-time World Solo Drumming Champion, will not be joining The band, following some consideration.

Numerous obviously unsubstantiated reports had said that Kilpatrick would be joining the Vale, taking over the leading-drummer role from Alistair “Bongo” McNab, who had held down the spot since 2013.

Rumours have abounded since Kilpatrick departed Shotts & Dykehead under controversial circumstances, Shotts insisting that he resigned, Kilpatrick contending that he was removed. In addition to reports that he was joining Vale of Atholl, other speculation has included Kilpatrick joining a number of bands, including Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia, Spirit of Scotland, and an altogether new band sponsored by a wealthy benefactor.

Following Kilpatrick’s departure, Shotts & Dykehead appointed Blair Brown leading-drummer, only to announce on November 16th that he had left the band due to personal matters, with Andrew Lawson taking over the role permanently.

Vale of Atholl confirmed that it is still searching for a leading-drummer, following McNab’s stepping down after the 2015 season. The band has also lost four snare drummers, and recently Pipe-Sergeant Craig Sutherland, who has joined the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University of Vancouver.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for news what band the 59-year-old Kilpatrick joins, if any. He has been unresponsive so far to requests for comment.

Stewies at P+D: Holdaway and Fletcher (HD videos)

Published: November 25, 2015

For those in the northern hemisphere, the cold weather has set in and indoor practices have restarted as pipe bands around the globe work towards 2016. So pipes|drums lights up the hot stove and brings our faithful readers the first in our annual series of pieces from the summer, namely the (usually) annual Pipes+Drums Recital that we sponsor at the Piping Live! festival in Glasgow.

We start the series with performances by the leaders of the Grade 1 Stuart Highlanders Pipe Band of Wilmington, Massachusetts, Pipe-Major Adam Holdaway and Leading-Drummer Scott Fletcher. The Stuarts are one of only two Grade 1 bands from the United States, and this was their second trip to the World Pipe Band Championships in the top grade.

We hope that you enjoy and are warmed by these six videos on the pages that follow from the leaders of one of the world’s top bands.

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Mackay, Chamberlain sweep Balmoral Classic

Published: November 23, 2015

Gavin Mackay accepts the solo piping trophy at the 2015 Balmoral Classic.

Pittsburgh – November 20-22, 2015 – The ninth annual Balmoral Classic United States Junior Solo Junior Bagpiping & Solo Snare Drumming Championships were won, respectively, by Gavin Mackay of Kitchener, Ontario, and MacKenzie Chamberlain of Sarnia, Ontario. Mackay and Chamberlain each won both events in piping and drumming. Twelve pipers and four drummers competed. The competition is produced by the Balmoral School of Piping and Drumming and was held in the McGonigle Theatre, Central Catholic High School, in the university district of Pittsburgh.

Over the weekend, piping judges Bill Livingstone and Bill Wotherspoon and drumming judge Gordon Bell performed in recital, with Wotherspoon giving a talk on piobaireachd at the University of Pittsburgh. McCallum Bagpipes was one of the sponsors of the event.

Solo Piping
1st Gavin Mackay, “Clan Campbell’s Gathering”
2nd Kathleen Brown, “The MacGregors’ Salute”
3rd Stanton Man, “The Park Piobaireachd” (#2)
4th Steven MacDonald, “The Battle of the Pass of Crieff”
5th Colin Tait, “The Big Spree”

1st Gavin Mackay, “Dr. E.G. MacKinnon,” “The Islay Ball, “Kalabakan”
2nd Steven MacDonald, “The Duchess of Edinburgh,” “Ewe wi’ the Crookit Horn,” “The Cockerel in the Creel”
3rd Stanton Man, “Leaving Lunga,” “John Roy Stewart,” “The Rejected Suitor”
4th Kathleen Brown, “Stirlingshire Militia,” “The Doune of Invernochty,” “Alick C. MacGregor”
5th Jack O’Connell, “Major Manson at Clachanstrusal,” “Ewe wi’ the Crookit Horn,” “Major David Manson”

MacKenzie Chamberlain accepts the snare drumming trophy.

Duncan Bell, Bill Livingstone and Bill Wotherspoon judged both events.

Solo Snare Drumming
1st MacKenzie Chamberlain
2nd Cameron McCall
3rd Jeremiah Whitney
4th Dan Evans

Hornpipe & Jig
1st MacKenzie Chamberlain
2nd Cameron McCall
3rd Jeremiah Whitney
4th Dan Evans

Gordon and Donald Bell judged both events.

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May 1, 1978First issue of Capt John MacLellan’s “International Piper” magazine published.
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Sunglasses should never be worn in competition. They don’t look cool. They’re uncool.
The Style Guy