October 23, 2015

Shotts-Kilpatrick story continues: band offers an apology

The events following are what have shocked me the most. As you will all be aware if you are reading this, Jim released his side of events on the Saturday after the results of the World Solo Drumming. One very unfair and unfortunate victim in all of this is Steven McWhirter who had only a few hours earlier been named as best drummer in the world for a record five years in a row. Sadly Steven’s great achievement was buried in the news that followed.

Since Jim’s statement being released on pipes|drums and on Facebook, myself personally, the Shotts band and a number of our members have been targeted in a hate campaign which has been endorsed, liked, shared and commented upon by many hundreds of members of our pipe band “community.” I myself have received countless messages of hate and shaming both publicly and via my personal and business Facebook pages and email. People seem to have taken joy in wishing for my demise, the failure of my business and hugely more saddening, hoping for the complete collapse and failure of the band. I ask myself how a community that on numerous occasions prides itself on being close knit, supportive and understanding towards every one of us that lifts a set of pipes or a drum, can turn in to a baying mob of hate overnight. I have never witnessed anything like it and have never been so disgusted to call myself a piper. Yes I know Jim has a huge following of fans that he has built up over 30+ years. I myself cannot compete with that. I’ve only been at Shotts for three seasons. The band itself at 105 years old, also cannot compete with Jim’s fans. We all accept that. But the level of abuse and hatred still cuts us all deeply. We are not a group of professional sports people who earn huge amounts of money, but instead are made up of normal people who give their time, effort and vast amounts of hard work to make music for the joy of doing just that. Yes we are competitive, we want to be the best we can be, but we ultimately do it for the love of the music and the camaraderie that everyone in this community prides ourselves upon. For the members that continue to make up Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, this has been the most worrying, horrible and life changing moment that the majority of us have every experienced. It makes all of our worlds a darker, sadder place. I absolutely don’t doubt for a second how much of a darker, sadder place the world is for Jim right now too. I fully understand that he has given his life to the band and must be terrified of what comes next. For that I 100% empathise and I genuinely feel terrible for him – for him and his family and close friends. But this situation is not what it has been presented to be. It simply boils down to this – a disagreement between two leaders of a band as to how and when their successor will be put in place, muddied with a personnel issue on the side that should have been handled earlier and better by both parties. These are issues that happen around the world in bands from the very bottom to the very top, but just because it’s at the top doesn’t make the issue any different.

I am sorry that this message has gone on for so long. I am willing to admit that when I first saw Jim’s statement at four pages long, I thought to myself how can it take so long to describe this situation that we are in. Yet, here I am having written something longer still and without any of the careful finessing so evident in Jim’s.

I apologise to everyone that reads this for any grammatical errors or rambling. As I said I am not comfortable with this kind of thing. I’m a piper and that is what I do and essentially the only thing that I feel comfortable doing. I normally seek the assistance of those more literate than me to write band press releases or website updates, but this situation is very, very different. This is me giving my side of things. I’m fully aware that the backlash may be as or even more severe than the last, but I have no control over this. You can read Jim’s side, you can read mine. You can pick whoever you think is in the right but again I have no control over that. The reality though is that in this situation, no one is a winner. We have all already lost.

From here, my world has already changed but I now turn my focus back to my band, and will continue to give every ounce of effort that I have within me to get it back on track again and move on from this horrible mess. In the past three seasons we have rebuilt the pipe corps from next to nothing and now we have to regroup and rebuild the drum corps. It’s going to be difficult yes, but there is no option. I will not bow nor let this institution of a band be destroyed by those that wish for nothing less. As was the mantra in my previous band and what I now try to instil in the members of Shotts, the band comes first and no single member is bigger than that.

I’m genuinely sorry to Jim for what has happened and the inexplicably sad situation we find ourselves in. I do wish to thank him for bringing me into the band and for being my leading drummer during this time, culminating in the entire Shotts team winning the title in August – the one highlight in an otherwise very difficult year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I sincerely do wish Jim all the very best for what lays ahead of him.

Thanks for taking the time to read.


pipes|drums has asked Kilpatrick additional questions but has so far not heard from him. Stay tuned for updates should additional information be received.

The timing of the leadership change is both unfortunate and extraordinary. Only two months ago the band won the 2015 World Championships, only three years after Ryan Canning took over a struggling outfit as pipe-major.

Kilpatrick and former Shotts drummers have apparently not yet determined what band, if any, they will play with, but many UK-based Grade 1 bands have been ruled out by their pipe-majors, including Field Marshal Montgomery and ScottishPower.


  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.



Forgotten Password?