December 18, 2021

The 10 most-read pipes|drums News stories of 2021

At this time last year, safe to say that every one of us were looking forward to a better year ahead, with a return to in-person events in a post-pandemic reawakening.

How quaint.

As the great St. Louisan Yogi Berra said, It’s like déjà vu all over again.

Or maybe it was Olivia Rodrigo.

But here we are, looking back at a year of shutdowns and only small glimmers of normalcy, and staring down another uncertain future.

But, hey, we’re a resilient bunch, we happy few, we pipers and drummers of the world.

pipes|drums was there the whole time, working to bring you the news that matters, and 2021 mattered a lot.

This year, we decided to bring you the 10 most-read News stories on their own. We’ll come back with the 10 most-read Features, Interviews and Reviews a little later, since we got pretty creative with trying to keep you informed and entertained.

We wrote this in last year’s piece: “Sadly and perhaps fittingly, many of the stories were terrible news from a year that felt almost non-stop bad news. But it wasn’t all that way. There were bright spots, and there’s hope for a brighter 2021.”

We can say the same this year. Just substitute 2022 at the end. Déjà vu all over again.

So, here you are, the 10 most-read News stories from 2021, based on the analytics provided by the good people at Google.

Click on the headlines to revisit the full original story.





Bands reject RSPBA motion to require payment of lapsed dues

Our March 13th report on the world’s most powerful piping and drumming association was a feel-good piece from its annual general meeting, where their members voted down an attempt to make bands pay dues retroactively. It might actually have been a small price to pay in return for getting back to normalcy, but the real world doesn’t work that way. The RSPBA will report on its finances at its 2022 AGM, and we will see then how revenues from membership registrations, or the lack of them, are impacting the coffers.





World’s on schedule despite UK music festival cancellations

Such hopeful, positive thinking on January 28, 2021. Glasgow Life, the organization that licenses the World Pipe Band Championships, confirmed that it was all systems go for the 2021 World’s even though major UK music festivals were already cancelling events. As always and to their credit, Glasgow Life was prompt and candid answering our basic questions. We’re still waiting to hear from the RSPBA.





Glasgow Police change name to Police Scotland & Federation Pipe Band

The most successful and longest-running civilian pipe band in history said goodbye to its “Glasgow” identity by taking on a new name: the Police Scotland & Federation Pipe Band. What’s in a name? As we discussed, not much when it comes to winning and losing. Bands throughout history have gone through numerous nomenclature changes, and still emerged who and what they are. We expect that will be the case with the Govan Police / Glasgow Police / Strathlcyde Police / Police Scotland / Glasgow Police / Police Scotland & Federation. Let’s just get back on the pitch and play.





Canterbury Caledonian Society: 2021 New Zealand Pipe Band Champions

What a relief! An actual in-person pipe band competition being staged with many in the world tuning in live on the net. The New Zealand Championships were a joy to hear, and the five-band Grade 1 contest was a display of some of our best in full flight. Ultimately, it was Canterbury Caledonian that emerged victorious, and good on them. Well deserved. But the piping and drumming world was just happy to hear actual pipe bands doing their thing.





Micky Daly, 1980-2021

The passing of Micky Daly, a piper with Grade 1 Closkelt of Co. Down, Northern Ireland, on March 22nd at the age of 40 was a shock to all who knew him and those who didn’t. The much liked figure in the UK pipe band scene succumbed to an illness leaving a pall on the scene. He shall be missed but not forgotten.





James McIntosh, 1925-2021

He was a legendary figure throughout the piping and drumming world, and when Jimmy McIntosh left us a t age 96 on February 8th we paused to remember all of his contributions: his teaching, his association leadership, his playing, his unrelenting love of piobaireachd. The Dundee native who made the USA his home in the latter 40 years of his life made a mark for the ages, contributing to what is now one of the world’s most vibrant and progressive areas of ceol more excellence.


Jack Lee: 2021 Glenfiddich Champion

Two words: Jack Lee. That’s all you need to know. Quickly establishing himself as one of the greatest of the greats in piping history, the British Columbian won his third Glenfiddich Championship at the age of 63 on October 30th. It seems like every time he puts his hands on a chanter he makes some kind of history. Long may you run, Jack Lee.





£14,704 spent in 2020 on catering and venues? RSPBA pre-AGM order paper invites questions

The RSPBA made the top 10 list again, this time due to their financial reporting, which showed nearly £15,000 spent on catering in 2020 when there were no competitions. We asked for some clarification and they didn’t respond. Perhaps these expenses were for food and beverage payments that were made in the following fiscal year for things consumed in the 2019. There were other questions, and there are sure to be more when the organization’s 2021 report is circulated. As always, we only hope they respond to reasonable questions.





World’s cancelled for second straight year

Ugh. Glasgow Life officially nixed the 2021 World’s on April 19th, to the endless disappointment of pipers and drummers everywhere. The news wasn’t entirely surprising, but it put paid to any hope that the event would somehow happen. But with so many arrangements and payments having to be made far in advance, four months out is a realistic go/no-go deadline. It was no doubt a tough decision, but the number of non-UK bands already saying they would not attend must have been a factor in the move.





Heather MacKay, 1967-2021

Heather MacKay of Aberdeen was a one woman tour de force in the UK piping and drumming world, and her passing at age 53 on May 11th was a blow to all who knew and loved her. “Fly high, Heather, and I am sure you will have a pipe band started up there!” said Fiona Kilpatrick, pipe-major of the Deeside Ladies when MacKay was in the band. “We will miss you dearly.” We look forward to an in-person salute to her and all those we’ve lost at the next march past or massed bands when we return to better days.


According to the numbers, those were the 10 most-read pipes|drums News articles of 2021. Like last year, many were tough to revisit, especially through another challenging year, but we will nonetheless continue to bring you the news. We’ll be back with the 10 most-read Feature articles in a little while.

Hey, by the way, about 300 of the articles we brought to you in 2021 were free. So, if you don’t already subscribe, maybe you’ll do that. It’s just a few pennies a day. Just click here for options. Thanks for contributing.



The 10 most-read pipes|drums articles of 2020

The 10 most-read pipes|drums articles of 2019
December 29, 2019

The 20 most-read pipes|drums news stories of 2018
December 28, 2018

The 10 most-read pipes|drums stories of 2017
December 22, 2017





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