Published: April 29, 2015

SFU makes another change of bass

After 15 months in the role, bass drummer Steve Foley has left the Grade 1 Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, making way for Mackenzie Webster, who moves over to the big drum after playing tenor in the band’s bass-section.

Foley took over as bass drummer in January 2014 following the departure of long-time incumbent Kathryn Tawse. Foley had been bass drummer with the Grade 1 Los Angeles Scots for many years, and Foley was replaced at LA Scots by Amber Bartholomuesz, who remains with that band.

Mackenzie Webster

Foley had been making as many practices in Vancouver as possible, taking regular flights from Los Angeles, but missing enough of them to warrant Webster stepping in in his absence as the band works to perfect more than two hours of largely new material for its August 12th Pre-World’s Concert in Glasgow.

“Having Steve in the band these two years has been great,” SFU band President and Pipe-Sergeant Jack Lee said. “He is a terrific person and musician.  He is also very professional and a lot of fun to be around. The challenge has been that Steve lives in Los Angeles, which is a 2.5 hour flight from Vancouver.  Steve flew in pretty often but could not be at every practice and performance.  Whenever Steve was not at a band practice Mackenzie filled in on bass and was incredible.”

Steve Foley

For his part, Foley commented, “I did want to stay with SFU, but the mounting pressure of the concert and the time commitment required was going to be too much for me and my family. I was already traveling up to BC twice a month for the past year-and-a-half and anything in addition to that would have been problematic. I am gutted to have resigned from the band and at the same time so thankful to have been recognized and invited to play in the first place. There’s nothing like playing at the top. However, it is a difficult situation when the bass drummer is out of town. I have no hard feelings other than the hurt of leaving. I wish the band greatness in the coming season and seasons to come.”

Foley added that he does not anticipate playing for another band this year. “It’s a bit late to even think about a change in any other organization, whether one was presented or not . . . but after 34 years of continuous playing, it’s a bit strange.”

Lee added that 2015 is a particularly big year for SFU with, not only the Glasgow concert, but a number of new players coming into the fold to make the band “as big as ever.” In 2014 for the first time in more than 20 years SFU finished out of the top-six in Grade 1 at the World Pipe Band Championships.

The band has also been hit hard by the news of long-time member Andrew Bonar’s brain cancer diagnosis, but has rallied to support him and the charitable cause in worldwide efforts, including a concert and pledge-drive in March.

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