PP Editor’s Blog: Ross & Cromarty Concerts/ Band Regradings/ Andrew Pitkeathly/ Letters

racpadsGail Laird of the Ross & Cromarty Pipes and Drums School has sent this: ‘The Ross and Cromarty Pipes and Drums School rounded off their successful competing season by a three-night mini tour of Ross-shire.

‘The concerts were an outstanding success. The band was delighted at the level of  community support at every venue. The main band was outstanding, showcasing their talent under the brilliant tutelage of Niall Matheson  (Pipe Major) and Drew Caldwell (Drum Major). The emerging development band enjoyed their first taste of concert performing and it has whetted their appetite for more.
‘Pipe Major Niall Matheson was both surprised and encouraged by this appreciation of traditional Highland music. He was most impressed by the development band, many of whom had not performed in public before. The programme comprised of marches, strathspey and reels, slow airs and hornpipes, all carefully arranged to showcase the band`s talent.
‘The band was pleased to involve the Marion Munro School of Dancing with original choreography to our own Drum Fanfare. This fanfare had been composed by Drew. Drew was amazed how all members of the band had given 100% commitment to produce an exceptional evening of music at all three venues. The band also expressed their thanks to their special guest bands of Gizzenbriggs, Short Breed and to the Strathpeffer and District Pipe Band. Thanks to the generosity of our superb audience, local firms, Highland Council, parents and tutors we are able to make a sizable donation to MFR Cash for Kids charity and contribute towards the fund needed for the next competing season in 2016.’

Watch a video of the band playing Hector the Hero:  11-24-2015_195244.m2ts and well done to everyone involved in what was clearly a great effort.



The RSPBA have announced the following: ‘The Music Board met on Saturday 21st November and approved the following grading changes for the 2016 season. These changes are subject to approval from the Board of Directors.

RAF Pipes and Drums Central Scotland appeal upheld; this band returns to Grade 4A.

Milngavie pipe Band requested a downgrade from 3A to 3B; this was approved.

Kintyre Schools Novice Juvenile requested downgrading from Novice Juvenile A to Novice Juvenile B; appeal upheld; this band are now Grade Novice Juvenile B.

Grampian and District Pipe Band: after assessment band graded 4B.

Kintyre Schools Juvenile’s request to go to Grade 3A granted; this band are now Grade 3A.

Tullylagan Pipe Band requested downgrading from 3A to 4A due to loss of players; granted;  this band is now graded 4A.’

Two interesting letters today. The first is from the world’s greatest ever Pipe Major, Ian McLellan, and it concerns our recent piece on John McLellan, Dunoon’s tune South Hall.

The second is from Bob Lee of the South West Scotland Piping and Drumming Academy commenting on the recent article from that airt. Read both letters here.


Andrew Pitkeathly, Ronnie Morrison and Kenny MacDonald judging at Oban in 1993
Andrew Pitkeathly, Ronnie Morrison and Kenny MacDonald judging at Oban in 1993

Re our recent article and recording from Patrick Molard on Andrew Pitkeathly, I can add that P/M RG Hardie thought very highly of Andrew too and so did I – not because I knew him or his playing that well, but because he was a real knight of the road at Braemar one year. Andrew judged there regularly…….

Well, it was the early 80s, the games were over and my overladen car was struggling down one of the rough tracks near the games field to join the A93 for the journey south. At one point there was a bit of a crunch as the underside scraped along the gravel. I thought nothing of it until I looked in my rear view mirror to see another driver gesturing to me in a most disturbing way. I stopped the car, got out and saw a streak of black oil running back towards the games park. Worse, a puddle was now forming underneath. The sump had cracked. The car could not be driven. Two cars behind, Andrew came forward and said he would run me to a phone so that I could call the local garage. He then offered to take me, the three others and our pipes and baggage, to Perth where we could get a train the rest of the way to Glasgow. This he duly did. The car was repaired and I got a lift up the following Friday to collect it. An expensive trip to Braemar but the cost was soon forgotten. Memories of Andrew’s kindness remain.

Just to remind everyone, registrations are now open for the South Florida Piping & Drumming Academy to be held at Boca Raton, February 24 – 28. Top quality instruction in piping, drumming (bass, tenor, side). See the ad below. Only $400 for five days of learning and copious amounts of fun in the sun. Click on the ad below for more.

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