Editor’s Notebook: Detroit Highlanders/ PS Conf./ Tony Currie/ SPA KO/ Northern Mtg Results

Further to our story on the Ford Pipe Band reader Steve Thomson has kindly done a bit of research on another ‘motown’ pipe band. Steve writes: ‘The march the Detroit Highlanders was composed by Archibald MacNeill (the blind piper) in Glasgow. The Detroit Highlanders were a very successful band on the Ontario games circuit during the 1930s and 40s that really put Detroit on the piping map.

‘The Pipe Major was George Duncan and the Pipe Sergeant Walter Rose who later was P/M of the St Andrews Pipe Band (Detroit). They worked real well together at that time. George was from Edinburgh where he was a student of Roddy Campbell.

‘He came to Detroit after a fairly long stay in New York City after he emigrated to the U.S. Walter was from Glasgow and emigrated directly to Detroit in 1929 at the age of 29. In Scotland he had played with the Seaforth Highlanders and in his teens and 20s had been a student of Archie MacNeill.

‘Archie’s own son (Alex) was a little younger than both Walter and George and he emigrated to Montreal. During summers Archie would visit North America to see his son and would also reconnect with Walter, hence he was well acquainted with the band and composed the march in their honour. Today much of the piping that comes out of Detroit can trace their derivation from Walter Rose and George Duncan.’



Thanks for that Steve. What a great composer Archie MacNeill was. The tune can be found in my Glasgow Collection in its original setting. Below is a recording I found on the web, a composite by ‘US Military Bands’ entitled ‘Airs & Dances’. Finally does anyone have a picture of the Detroit Highlanders?


There was an error in our short piece on the Piobaireachd Society Conference the other day. The 10% discount mentioned was for members’ accommodation in the Piping Centre’s hotel, not on Conference fees, which are ridiculously cheap anyway, £10 to £55, and the latter includes a super tasty three-course dinner courtesy the Centre’s ace chef.

PS Members booking a room at the Centre should mention ‘Piobaireachd Society Conference’ to get the discount. Click on the poster below to sign up.


Club Night tonight at the Scottish Pipers’ Association. Centre of operations is the Piping Centre, Otago Street, Glasgow. Tomorrow, Feb 8, sees the first semi-final in the SPA KO with John Patrick (a previous winner) and Steven Leask doing battle. A bar and a warm welcome awaits. 7 for 7.30pm. Other SPA dates:

FRIDAY 6th March 2020 – Knockout Contest Semi-final with Stuart Liddell and Callum Beaumont
SATURDAY 11th April 2020 – Professional Contest
SATURDAY 2nd May 2020 – Knockout Final


Pleased to hear Tony Currie (pictured) is well on the mend after his recent bout of illness. Tony spent a million years as BBC Radio Scotland’s continuity announcer and was rightly dubbed the ‘Voice of BBC Radio Scotland’. He was also the man behind the popular internet radio show I did when at the College of Piping, CoP Radio. Thanks for showing me the ropes Tony and enjoy your retirement to Lismore.


Do you want more results from yesteryear? Yes, I hear loud and clear. Here goes with those we have from the Northern Meeting 1998. The Clasp was won by Angus MacColl and the ‘big’ MSR by P/M Alasdair Gillies.

Gold Medal
1 Stuart Shedden 2 Donald MacPhee 3 Mary-Ann MacKinnon 4 Brian Donaldson 5 Euan MacCrimmon
Silver Medal
1 Bruce Gandy 2 Matt MacIsaac 3 Ronan Maguire 4 William Geddes 5 Liam Brown
‘A’ March
1 John Patrick 2 Douglas Murray 3 Gordon Maclean 4 Stuart Samson

Alasdair Gillies receiving the Former Winners’ MSR trophy this time at the Northern Meeting in 2003

‘A’ S&R
1 Alan Bevan 2 Douglas Murray 3 Bruce Gandy 4 John Patrick
Hornpipe & Jig
1 Gordon Walker 2 Bruce Gandy 3 Angus MacColl
‘B’ March
1 Graeme Roy 2 Margaret Houlihan 3 Donald MacKay 4 Fraser Walker
‘B’ S&R
1 Matt MacIsaac 2 Ronan Maguire 3 Liam Brown 4 Fraser Walker


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