October 23, 2015

Shotts-Kilpatrick story continues: band offers an apology

Jim Kilpatrick

The latest development in the rift between Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia and its former Leading-Drummer Jim Kilpatrick saw a new development, with the band offering an apology to Kilpatrick, admitting mistakes and asking for understanding, if not forgiveness.

Since the band released the news of Kilpatrick’s departure and the appointment of Blair Brown to the leading-drummer post on October 12th, it was revealed that the separation was in fact acrimonious, and not the retirement that was initially concluded. Kilpatrick contended that he was forced from the position. The band has stated that Kilpatrick resigned after an impasse, when the band wanted a gradual transition over 2016, allowing Brown to ease into the role.

Kilpatrick provided pipes|drums with a lengthy analysis of his side of the story, while the Shotts band has remained succinct with its comments. The past week has seen a storm on social media, with many of Kilpatrick’s supporters excoriating Shotts for their perceived actions.

pipes|drums received the following lengthy statement from Ryan Canning, which is published here verbatim, following a careful review:

Having been at the brunt of a storm for some time now, I feel it is time for me to come forward with a statement. I had hoped that this would not be necessary, as personally I feel very uncomfortable being in the limelight and I have very little confidence in writing anything even semi-official for fear of making things worse. This kind of thing certainly is not a strong suit of mine. However, given the current circumstances, I feel I need to be clear as to what has actually transpired within the band and lead to these current, very sad state of affairs. I do find it odd as to why there is so much hype and public interest around a group of people that play bagpipes and drums, but regardless here is my take on things anyway.


  1. It seems that being a Pipe Major or Lead Drummer is no different to any other leadership role. You apparently need to act with diplomacy, tact, and respect, while being containing, boundaried and secure in your own skin, but also have clear communication channels, properly conducted ‘business’ meetings and take seriously the role of looking after the welfare of band members who invest a huge amount of ‘professional/musical’ and personal selves, in a band. All this, as well as attend to the music !! No mean feat for anyone taking on either the piping or the drumming role. It seems that a degree of ‘confidentialty’ or at least ‘care’ is required around ‘tittle tattle’ or talking about a band outwith said band. As evidenced here, word of this or that happening can spread across the world like wildfire, igniting all kinds of things in its wake. Strange though, in all of it, what an individual can find themselves dwelling on. I’m wondering for example what the Canadians are thinking about ‘their’ guy Blair Brown, and what the people of Shotts are feeling for their guy Jim Kilpatrick. It seems something has been spoiled, but like all ‘falls’ in life (bands or people I guess) some good learning usually ensues. Though Archibald the Grim seems to have made a return visit to the area of late, surely all concerned will soon take up the old slogan “Shotts lights the world”, just as the gas lamp standards made there, were exported throughout the British Empire and beyond in past times.

  2. The “Shotts” articles have reminded me why I left my first band and probably will never return to one again. A few years ago, the night before the Worlds, I asked the ‘leader’ what the departure time from the hotel, for Glasgow Green, the following morning. As usual I was there 15 mins before, booted & spurred ready to go, only to find the transport had gone. Imagine how physically sick I felt on arrival at GG, to find the band had been there practicing for over an hour. The negative actions of a nasty piece of work.

    I met PM Ryan Canning twice over the last few years. Short ‘chats’ that Ryan probably may not even remember. But my gut feeling throughout these short meetings were, what a thoroughly nice guy and utter professional he is. I have never met the previous LD JK, therefore have no opinion. But reading both extremely sad articles, 3 thoughts came to mind:
    1. Shotts needed a new approach to get away from the old regime. Anyone disagree??
    2. How many times in recent years have stories circulated that bands were having issues, a drummer would leave, the rest would follow, the band has no drum corps?
    3. Could someone remind me why Shotts could not participate in the latter part of a recent season and/or why ‘Mathieson’s’ replacement Pipe Major resigned his position?

    To be sending hate mail in these circumstances, only underlines to me why, the pipe band world does in fact have a self destruct button.



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