Trailing Drones
December 08, 2014

Trailing Drones: Burning romance, The Fonz, Dixieland jazz and more . . .

Harry’s been warming himself at the fire, which is an environmentally sensitive, high-efficiency, wood-burning stove that burns the family’s recycled paper. And does Harry have paper! First off, there is about 15 years’ worth of wee digest editorial, and then there are the years’ of adjudication sheets from the local games, where “experts” don’t always appreciate the full genius of Harry’s musicality. If you’ve got paper stocks of your own to use, Harry recommends this site for a little pre-reading, but be cautious when you do the mixing – the smell is unbearable. Harry saw some pretty toxic material in those old rags.

The fire’s going, a dram in hand, and Harry turns back to the Glenfiddich [See what he did there? The dram? The Glenfiddich?] and just has to say what a brilliant day of music that was. The live stream, which sounded fine despite Henrietta in the background grinding walnuts for the coffee cake, was again just a joy for the punters who couldn’t be there, and it seems to have enlivened the crowd at Blair Atholl, too. The near-ubiquitous Bob Worrall provided excellent insight and commentary, and only slipped once or twice into band-speak. Well done to Glenfiddich and the National Piping Centre too, for using the LiveStream as a fundraiser for the P-M Donald MacLeod Memorial competition.

Harry loves to see events supporting other events. As Yuletide approaches, bands need to know the roster, and now’s the time when there’s a bit of movement among rosters, especially in AU/NZ as the annual guest player frenzy will be heating up for the season there.

Donald MacPhee, heading for RSPBA panel?

Harry sees that Donald MacPhee will be retiring from Field Marshal Montgomery after some pretty great years with the band. Seems as though he might be missing a pretty big concert in 2016, but I suppose time will tell, and Donald’ll be that busy writing sheets for the RSPBA, he won’t have time to worry about it. Seriously, Mr. MacPhee is one of piping’s really good guys, and him coming on the panel anywhere should be a great addition to balanced and fair.

Big Donald’s from the Deep South (via Detroit Rock City), and Harry hears rumblings from Dixie about a few bands hoovering up players from the lower grades to make a few Grade 3 “superbands” (yes, apparently Grade 3 bands are now aping Grade 1 bands with massive rosters soaking up players from Grade 2). A number of Grade 5 and Grade 4 bands are simply folding in the southeastern USofA. I have to ask Why, why, why is this happening? Little fish, meet wee pond, I guess. Look away, look away, look away . . .

The RSPBA has apparently appointed a Music Board caretaker for piping, drumming, ensemble and drum majoring – a “go to” person to deal with discipline and other items. Names mentioned include Peter Snaddon (piping), Gordon Lawrie (ensemble) and Gordon Craig (drumming). The venerable John Wilson is the new RSPBA Music Board Chair, with Joe Noble and Vice-chair and Robert Mathieson as Secretary.

A. John Wilson‘s name has also come up as the possible new Principal of the College of Piping in Glasgow, and while Harry’s a little miffed he didn’t get the nod, he supposes that’ll be a breath of fresh air for all concerned. Like The Fonz used to say, Heeeeyyyyyy!

Speaking of Spongey, we were reminded of him and his Polkemmet band of the mid-1980s breaking “Itchy Fingers” into the top of the charts for the first time with this wee gem.

That was like a Bad Romance.

Get those tunes and scores learned, decide on the new solo tunes for 2015, and get stuck in for the winter months by the new fire. And, remember, send your burning questions, news and coal-scuttlebutt to



  1. You are incorrect – the RSPBA Music board does not have a caretaker Chair as none of the people you mention sit
    on the Music Board so could not be elected to the Chair; that remains with Neil Whitelaw. I think you may mean the Adjudicators Panel and even then I’m not sure you’re correct either as I’d heard Peter Snaddon was standing down.



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