Ken here, writing on behalf of Jimmy and the gang, and launching the diary into the holiday season.
It was pretty quiet the last week of November, as Jim gave the band the week off and a few folks headed out for the Thanksgiving holiday. Tristen stuck around though. He and I had a spot of dinner together on Wednesday night, and then he, Jim, and I went out together Friday evening for some Mexican food and back to my house where we watched a DVD of The Last Waltz. A different sort of "band" altogether. Great film though. Jim and I spent some time over in Mountain View on Saturday. It's a small town about 45 minutes west of Batesville, famed for folk and Bluegrass music. We talked to some of the locals about musicians who might want to play here at the Arkansas Scottish Festival in April, and demonstrating the connection between Celtic music and American Bluegrass. Tristen and Lance had a Saturday evening gig playing a wedding in Hot Springs, along with a drummer named Jason, whom we hope will be joining us soon in the band.
Monday the 1st saw the band back in action, marching in the Batesville Christmas Parade for the first time in several years. The parade is a pretty big deal in the community, and a large portion of the town's population lined both sides of Main Street to enjoy the festivities. We did a rotation of marches from the Shell end of Main St. to the Melba end. We were behind a couple of youngsters who needed a little further instruction in the art of driving small motorized vehicles. They kept stopping right in front of us and we passed around them a couple of times en route. Cute little whipper-snappers though. The weather was a bit cool, but pleasant, and the distance was not so great as to make for a difficult time. Besides, it's mostly down hill. And there were plenty of cheerleaders all over the place. I'm old, not dead. The little kids along the parade route were definitely enjoying our music, and I heard a LOT of positive comments from the adults as we passed. Pipers were Jim, Steve, Lance, Tristen, Danny, Sergei, and myself. Kate and Patrick were on sides, and Watson was on the bass. At least most of the way. Just a half a block before the old Landers Theater, Watson started to play a bit shakily. I was just getting ready to make a joke about the Metro-gnome being busted, when he informed me that he was feeling BAD. He didn't look so hot either, so I made way for him and told him to drop out. We had several offers from around the band to take over the bass duties, but we opted to go the last couple of blocks without. Last we saw of Watson, he was riding around with the Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Tim Bruner. I think he really just didn't want to walk back up the hill to the cars after the parade ended.
We start tonight splitting the band into A and B groups. In addition to piping in the A band, I'll be playing bass drum for the B band until such time as they come up with a suitable replacement (as if). I am looking forward to it. I've been a drummer before. It will mean pulling a few four hour band practices on Tuesday and Thursday nights for the next few months though. It's the price one pays for glory and fame.
Jim is scheduled to play Wednesday for the First Presbyterian Church. Saturday the 6th will see a few of us up VERY early for the four hour jaunt over to Fayetteville for a meeting of the Arkansas Piobaireachd Society. I'm looking forward to visiting with some of my former band mates from Ozark Highlanders, and to a day of enjoying the big music, and whatever else we manage to pull out of our hats.
For the band,
Monday, December 1st was the Batesville Christmas Parade. We attended for the first time in many years, and were very well received. I did an interview for the Batesville Guard on Tuesday, written up by a young high schooler named Rachel Stinson. Very nicely done by Rachel, (and thank you for the great coverage of the Program).
On Wednesday, we recorded the balance of the beginning streaming video lessons for the website. Not being a tech guru, those lessons did not have sound *) . Oh well, we'll consider it a dry run. They should be completed by the 12th, and online shortly thereafter.
I attended the Sulphur Rock High School Christmas show. Some very talented kids out that way. I was asked to play along as the students sang Amazing Grace. It came off well.
This is finals week, and all the band members are busy attending to that, as well as gearing up for their trips home. That does not mean we who are remaining will have nothing to do. Practice will continue for the locals, and our calendar is already filling up for the new year.
December 6th was the latest Meeting of the Arkansas Piobaireachd Society. It was quite a large turnout in Fayetteville. Ken Adler will have the write-up in due order.
For the SHP,
Well, Jimmy's awa' ti Florida. Most everyone is gone. The students have all gone to their respective homes around the country. But, this is Lyon College and the bagpipes never stop. Ever. There will be a practice tonight with Danny, Sergei, John, Patrick, our new addition Travis, and myself. Travis will be augmenting the ever-burgeoning drum line.
It hasn't been quite as busy over the last couple of weeks though, as the students were wrapping up the semester and taking finals. Jim and I went down to Little Rock to play for an alumni Christmas reception. We played in the entryway to the Peabody Hotel as guests were arriving for the party in the convention center downstairs. It was a bit on the chilly side outdoors, but once inside we enjoyed meeting with some old and new friends.
We were also called upon to play a pair of funerals over the last two weeks. Always difficult for families to lose loved ones around the holidays, but nice for us to be able to participate in the grieving process and help provide a memorable service.
We wish all our friends and supporters happy holidays, and a happy and prosperous new year.
For the band,