Just returned from a few days in Inverness visiting relatives and taking in the Northern Meeting. Tell you what, it’s clearly been a long season for many judging by the indifferent quality of the MSR playing in the Clasp and in the Former Winners’ MSR. I was slightly taken aback by a fair number of the performances in these two competitions – and not in a good way.
As for Niall Stewart’s MSR … what an outstanding performance that was! Niall was first on and you could have forgiven him if he had mouthed a “Beat that!” as he exited the stage. It would’ve been justified. His MSR set the standard although ultimately the judges awarded him third.
It was a good competition for the piping scene in the Far East (Edinburgh, that is) what with Iain Speirs winning the Clasp (with Lament for Colin Roy MacKenzie), Jenny Hazzard taking third in the Hornpipe and Jig, Ally Henderson (now teaching at the city's Fettes College) winning the Gold Medal and Cameron Drummond winning the Formers Winners’ and coming second in the Gold Medal. Cameron will shortly receive his invite to the Glenfiddich along with Oban Gold Medallist, Craig Sutherland.
On the subject of the GF, is this year going to be the first year of the Blair Bash without a MacCallum?
The Glenfiddich started in 1974 and Hugh MacCallum competed there each year until his retirement in the 1980s (he won it in 1978). Nephew, Willie, has played at every one since uncle Hugh’s retirement, winning it for the first time in 1990. However, Willie hasn’t qualified for this year’s event.
I hope I am wrong. It won't be the same without him. Perhaps Willie’s first in last year’s MSR will secure him an invite?
The usual end-of-season movement of pipe band personnel is under way. The 78th Fraser Highlanders have replaced Johnny Rowe as bass drummer with Sean Allan. Stay tuned for more Grade 1 movement.
Spare a thought for the St. Thomas’ Episcopal School Pipe Band of Houston, Texas. The almost Biblical flooding there has destroyed parts of the school and many musical instruments. In preparation for the hurricane a lot of items were moved to higher ground but the magnitude of the storm and of the subsequent flooding took staff by surprise.
The headmaster is Mike Cusack with Lyric Todkill and Nick Hudson on the piping staff, and Graham Brown and Brandon Thomas the drumming staff.
Glad to see common sense prevail in Argyll. A fortnight after Inveraray & District Pipe Band’s Worlds’ win, the band planned a triumphant march up the town’s main (only!) street, but, this being Scotland, officialdom got in the way. The band would, first of all, require a road closure permit and that would take four-six weeks to process.
Appeals for leniency were made by people such as the local MP, minister, local councillors, even the Duke of Argyll himself. As the band arrived from the Cowal Games, the police greeted them and allowed the march to go ahead.
Lesson learned. Next time don’t ask for permission. Just do it.
- The views of Butter Fingers are not necessarily those of the College of Piping.