PP Ed’s Blog: Florida/ Shasta Piob./ Ulster Fundraiser/ SPA/ Lochaber 1948/

World class drummer Graham Brown has joined the teaching team at next week’s Florida Pipe & Drum Academy.

Graham is currently the side drum tutor for the St Thomas Episcopal band in Houston, Texas, and is the brother of the well-known piper Glenn Brown.

Graham is leading tip of the St Thomnas Alumni band and was a star member of the Worlds-winning Grade 1 drum corps at Shotts & Dykehead.

Graham, who runs his own percussion service, said: ”I enjoy teaching and am delighted to be part of the Academy.’

Bio from Graham’s website: ‘Graham Brown began drumming in the fall of 1991 under the instruction of Doug Stronach. He started his drumming career as the Lead Drummer of the Milton Optimist Pipe Band, founded by his mother Gail. The band was very successful, winning the World Juvenile Championships in 1994, and the Grade 3 Worlds in 1997.

‘In 2002, after four years of playing Grade 1 in Ontario, Graham moved to Scotland to realize his lifelong dream of playing with the Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band. With Shotts, Graham has won 3 World Pipe Band Championships (2003, 2005, 2015), 4 World Drum Corps Championships (2002, 2003, 2005, 2014), and amassed a total of 17 Major drumming wins (4 Worlds, 3 Scottish, 5 British, 2 European, 3 Cowal).

‘In 2007 after six seasons with Shotts, Graham returned home to Canada and was named the Lead Drummer of the Grade 1 Peel Regional Police Pipe Band. Over five years Graham led Peel to many band and drumming wins including the North American Championships, and a place in the World Championship final.

‘The fall of 2012 saw Graham reunite at Shotts with his brothers Blair and Glenn, to be part of the band’s rebuilding process under new Pipe Major Ryan Canning, which culminated with the band’s win of the 2015 World Championship. In August of 2015 Graham was named Lead Drummer of the St. Thomas Alumni Pipe Band of Houston, Texas, one of the world’s top Grade 2 Pipe Bands.’

The FPDA starts Feb 13 and runs till Feb 17 inclusive. Contact organiser Chris McKeown for more.

The Shasta Piping Society have asked me to remind everyone that the closing date for their piobaireachd composing competition is April 1. A £500 first prize awaits anyone with the required creative juices.

Runner-up prizes of £250 and £100 are also on offer. Have a listen to earlier winners on the PP Audio Archive. Judges are as before: myself, Bill Livingstone (Canada) and Chris Terry (South Africa).

Results from the PP archives…….. 
Lochaber Gathering, August 1948
1 P/M Donald MacLean, Lewis
2 Donald MacLean, Glasgow
3 RG Hardie, Bishopbriggs
4 P/M Angus MacAulay, London

1 P/M John MacDonald, Glasgow Police
2 P/M Angus MacAulay, London
3 John Garroway, Glasgow
4 P/M J MacKenzie, Ballachulish

Strathspey & Reel
1 P/M Peter Bain, Glasgow
2 P/M John MacDonald, Glasgow Police
3 John Wilson, Edinburgh
4 Donald MacLean, Glasgow

Stellar line up at the big charity bash in Northern Ireland this weekend. Gilbert Cromie reports: This Saturday night, 9th February 2019, sees the second ‘Kids with Cancer’ charity in the Royal Hotel, Cookstown.

The doors open at 5pm and the event gets underway at 6pm. Organised by the well-known drummer Gary Smith and his team of volunteers, all the proceeds will go to aidthe Children’s Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Last year £9,000 was raised.

This year’s line-up is made up of top class performers: (Pipers) Richard Parkes, Terry Tully, Kris Coyle, Ryan Cupples Menendez, Andrew Shilliday and Craig Munro; (Drummers): Gareth McLees, Grant Cassidy, William Glenholmes, Dean Smyth, Lee Lawson, Samuel Hanna, Conor Lawlor, Kerr McQuillan and John Lappin. Tenor Drummers: Aoife Bissett, Adam Montgomery and Ewan Smyth.

Ashley McMichael, FMM, piping at last year’s fundraiser

Other performers: Erinn McIlwaine, NI Drum Majors display team [Emma BarrLauren HannaJason PriceJames Kennedy and Louise Smiton], Robyn Talbot and James Marks [singers], St. Laurence O’Toole mini band and their World Champion drum corps and the Music Service for Pipes and Drums. 

Tickets are £15 and I gather they are going fast however they can be ordered from Gary Smyth on Facebook www.facebook.com/gary.smyth.52or on 07814 446179.

The Scottish Pipers’ Association’s club night and AGM is in the Otago Street premises of the Piping Centre tomorrow night at 7.30pm.

The SPA’s Annual Adult Amateur and Veterans Contest has had to be re-scheduled and will probably be held on 20th April, but this will be confirmed in due course.

Talking of the SPA, this is from the Oban Times in the late 1960s: ‘There was no Meeting of the SPA last Saturday because a team from the Association was taking part in the first contest in a series of quiz programmes called ‘Pipers’ Dilemma’ which the BBC recorded in the headquarters of the Scottish Pipe Band Association, Washington Street, Glasgow, on the same evening.

‘In the event the team from the SPA were narrowly defeated by the team from the College of Piping. The victors were then challenged by P/M John McAllister, P/M John Weatherston and George McIlwham representing the SPBA and the result this time was – well tune in on the transmission date January 6 and you will find out.’

From memory I think the bandsmen prevailed.

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