April 7, 2006
The first weekend of April found Jimmy, Vince, Tristen, and me headed south to Gonzales LA for a return visit to SwampCelts. We had a great time in 2005, and I thought this year was even better. Friday night (March 31 actually, but close enough to April to sneak it in with the rest of the weekend for the purposes of the Diary) the Celtic Society of Louisiana sponsored a barbeque at their clubhouse in Baton Rouge. Tristen is now well-versed in the art of twisting the head off a boiled crawfish and consuming the contents of its shell. There were also oysters on the half-shell, boiled potatoes, corn on the cob, barbequed brisket, liquid libations, and the hospitality was unparalleled. T-bone and I re-paid our hosts by playing for our supper. We had a couple of FINE sounding bagpipes right out of the box, and we played several sets of tunes to the delight of the revelers.
Saturday was long and a bit warm. I slathered on the sunscreen in spite of early morning clouds, and insisted Tristen do likewise. He thanked me Sunday. The sun came out later in the day and baked a few folks. Between us, we managed to inflict some damage on the competition. Jimmy won three of the four Open events, Vince was the overall winner in Grade I, Tristen played up and beat me out in Grade II (I did win the March though), and then Tristen and I managed a second in the Duo contest behind Lyric Todkill and Doug MacRae. They are two excellent pipers who teach at St. Thomas in Houston and also play for the 78th Frasers in Toronto. I don't mind coming in second there at all.
Saturday night Tristen and I joined our dear friend Nancy Love (she plays with Baton Rouge Caledonians, but also with Lyon College at times) for dessert at the nearby Chili's. We also met her for a great breakfast in St. Francisville on our way home to Batesville the next morning.
After that, I showed Tristen the dark underbelly of America that is the Mississippi Delta. What a shame it is to see poverty of that extent in a country so full of wealth in some other parts. I think it shook him up a little. We played tag with a tornado later in the afternoon as we neared home, but arrived safe and sound.
Jimmy is off today to attend an EUSPBA Ensemble judging test in Philadelphia.
The Arkansas Scottish Festival fast approaches, and we are digging in for that.
For the band,
26 April, 2006
As April nears an end, and graduation looms, we can look back on another highly productive year. The Arkansas Scottish Festival has just been put to bed, with a record attendance of 10,000 people over the 2 days. The USPF qualifier was won by young men from Dallas, Texas and Houston, Texas. The level of play of the bands is rising in all grades in this area. The outlook for the future is very bright indeed. The goals of the Program since my arrival have been to turn out a first class pipe band and dance group, as well as bring the level up a notch or two in the southern midwest region.
Our own Neil McCarthy had first in the Grade IV Piobaireachd and the Grade IV March. Danny Vaughn was second in the Grade IV March, proving that hard work pays off. Definitely not the last time we'll see these gentlemen in the prizes.
Neil McCarthy was also the first recipient of the Lenard Adler Memorial
Scholarship, and was presented with the accompanying trophy during closing
ceremonies on Sunday.
Many of you that live locally will have seen or heard some pipers on the television or radio in the weeks leading up to the festival. That would have been Ken Adler of Lyon College. We could not have anywhere near the success we enjoy without Ken's able assistance on several fronts.
More as it unfolds.
Jimmy and Kenton at the Flowers Baking Company celebrating
with the winners of the
Community Olympics from the 2006 Arkansas Scottish Festival