PipingLive! had a press launch this week and it seems like it’s going to be another memorable four days in Glasgow this August with the likes of the Peatbog Faeries and the Battlefield Band – who have been very quiet lately – taking part. There’s also a Grade 1 pipe band quartet competition.
The College of Piping will no doubt be planning some activities, too, and I look forward to hearing about them.
I noticed The Scotsman carried an item on Wednesday about the press launch. It was merely a rehashed press release from Glasgow Life. Read it HERE and weep at what’s become of our national press.
This year the World Pipe Band Championships sees its 70th anniversary and the May Piping Times has a first class article about the stooshie between the Cowal Games and the Scottish Pipe Band Association in 1947.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Cowal was considered to be the unofficial ‘Worlds’ but when the then Scottish Pipe Band Association promoted the idea of having its own official ‘Worlds’ the Cowal organisers refused to give up the 'World' title. The result was that in 1947 two ‘Worlds’ events were held.
The article is written by Jeannie Campbell and it makes for fascinating reading.
Is it not about time the RSPBA considered revising its grading system? For years it’s become obvious that Grade 1 has too many bands in it, and too many bands that are simply not good enough to break into the top six. The RSPBA has, in my opinion, simply tinkered with the system by having a qualifier at the Worlds. It needs rethinking. It’s time to introduce a Premier Grade.
While we’re at it, the number of pipers in all bands needs to be capped. In Grades 1 and 2 a band containing 25 pipers is far more unusual. In fact, in recent years some bands have contained as much as 27 pipers and I’m sure the 78th Frasers fielded 30 a few seasons ago.
It’s time to level the playing field. A maximum number of 20 pipers is sufficient and those pipers who find themselves not ‘getting a game’ can join other bands with the resultant boost that would give to them.
Grade 1 is becoming too predictable. Everyone’s predictions for the top 6 bands in Grade 1 on the Green in August would be similar. So, introduce a Premier grade and cap numbers. That would shake things up.
Also, perhaps its time to abolish the split grades in Grade 3? There are some decent bands in Grade 4 that could easily take some scalps in Grade 3 whilst there are bands in Grade 4 with no chance of progressing.
Just thought I’d put this ‘out there’.
The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust is offering a paid internship for a piper and snare drummer. The positions will be based at Preston Lodge High School in East Lothian and its cluster primary schools. Click HERE for info.
Dystonia, the curse of many musicians, has forced yet another piper to give up playing. Martin Gillespie plays with the excellent folk group, Skerryvore but the rare neurological condition has been affecting him in recent years. Focal hand dystonia causes involuntary contractions, spasms and general discomofort in the hand(s). It curtailed the piping careers of the likes of Hamish Moore and Stuart Cassells (of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers).
Just watched a promotional video from the organisers of this year’s Lorient Interceltique Festival. It’s very good and features veteran Drum Major Peter MacNamee throughout it. You can see the video HERE. I remember Peter doing his stuff down the main street of Dunoon many years ago now. It was when Cowal was still a major pipe band competition.
Peter, pictured left, repeatedly launched his mace high – and I mean high – into the air to the delight of the crowd lining the street. It was all going well until one drunken eejit ran up to him and pushed him just as he launched his mace. Peter valiantly tried to grab his mace but it spun off him and walloped two bystanders. Aye, the joys of Cowal …
The featured country at this year’s festival is Scotland and Scottish acts taking part include Capercaillie, Amy MacDonald, Fred Morrison, the Isle of Cumbrae Pipe Band, Runrig, Blazin’ Fiddles, Methil & District Pipe Band, Breabach, the Prince Charles Pipe Band of San Francisco. Andrew Frater is conducting a master class and Ian Duncan is hosting a tribute night to his late genius brother. It's set to be another cracking festival. I'm away to pour myself a glass of Ricard.