He’s back! Fresh from his winter hibernation polishing the old Triumph two wheeler and sharpening his pen. We know readers have missed him as much as we have………..
With Sir Billy Connolly leading a long line of pipe bands, headed by the North Lanarkshire Schools massed pipes and drums, in central Manhattan, spring has sprung. Although I still wouldn’t cast a cloot until the May broom bloom is oot – there’s still snow on the hills and there may be cold days to surprise us still.
Certainly before the first Major in Paisley in May. A venue that brings a new dimension to the phrase ‘go and play in the traffic’. I love the smell of aviation fuel in the morning, kind of ambiance.
With a variety of indoor competitions already over and concerts lined up in the next few weeks, there are some outdoor competitions only weeks away and in band halls, schools, churches, town and village rooms I know you are all there putting in the hard yards, hours, repeats and muscle memory.
Changes being made, rewrites, medleys being altered and adjustments to what the public will hear in a few weeks. There’s nothing like it and the lighter mornings and evenings prompt us all to look ahead.
As an aside, congratulations to all of those already prequalified for the World Solo Drumming semi finals in October. There is a distinct difference this year with many of the big names already through, ticked the box and nothing to worry about until late August.
In band competition for Grade 2, the section I’ve covered for a few seasons now, there are some significant moves of bands in and bands out, and some leadership changes are also going to be very interesting.
Whilst the Worlds’ final was dominated by Iain Donaldson’s City of Dunedin, it is now promoted by its home Association and will compete in Grade 1 in North America only this year.
No Scottish trip and a wise move. St Thomas Alumni will be looking at the likely August field with interest, and I understand the accompanying St Thomas Episcopal School Band will travel for the Juvenile contest.
Newly appointed Pipe Major David Wilton of the Mac Cals organisation steps in and will bring his Grade 1 pedigree in having elevated Lomond & Clyde to Grade 1 previously.
As principal piping teacher at Dundee High School it made perfect sense for him and his family to avoid significant travel. He will draw on the long serving seniors and I’m already expecting exciting things from this 101 year old band. A blistering start to last season, and arguably their best ever year, Mackenzie Caledonian has no concert prep going on this year but I’m forecasting prize lists aplenty.
Also arriving is new lead tip at Uddingston Strathclyde, Grant Cassidy, a prolific solo winner from a young age, also ex-Shotts, Inveraray and St Laurence. Currently a lead drummer in the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, he has a following and takes over the ‘family business’ from his dad as lead drummer of his local band. Very much worth watching and Grant has already qualified for the WDSolo semi final.
From the island of Ireland, Ravara, Manorcunningham and Closkelt will feature too and I’ll be aiming to get a listen to them in early course. Always great music and high quality.
Now to the North East of Scotland and what will be a really interesting tussle of local bands, some altered and some with significant personnel changes.
Highland Granite is new, with a few well kent faces. Portlethan comes up from 3A and Buchan in from Grade 1. Just where Bucksburn and Grampian Police fit in to the mix we will have to wait and see. The competition at Banchory in early May is one I might well take in for some early research.
Denny & Dunipace also swell the ranks (though not at Paisley) and we might even see Bagad Caval in late summer too. From the Scottish Borders the Royal Burgh if Annan is promoted after winning in 2018. Throw in a dash of other fixtures to the roster and the sad loss of the Vikings of Balagan, and you can count on there being some great days. I can hardly wait.
Over and out.