February 16, 2005

Well, we got our first show of 2005 under our belts.  We went to Magnolia in southern Arkansas to perform at a Burns Night Supper that was co-sponsored by the Scottish society and the arts council there.  It was held at the new Reynolds student center on the Southern Arkansas University campus, and it was a beautiful facility.  If you have been following the pipe band for a while, you may remember that last year most of the band was turned back by a blizzard, and that only Wally and myself made the show because we had gone down a day early.  We were still not full strength this year, but it was really the perfect size band for the auditorium we played in, and the show went very well indeed.

We got a bit of a late start.  We were waiting for Sergei, but apparently his car broke down on the way to SHP and he didn't make it.  It's about a three hour drive to Magnolia (when I drive) so we figured four with the band in the van.  There are always requisite stops for Jimmyjuice, etc.  It was gray, and a little rainy all the way down, but Tristen provided great tunes of his I-pod and so there was general levity and merriment en route.  Except for Grey Abernathy, who didn't feel so good.  We got to Magnolia about 4:30 and found the new building.  The dinner started a few minutes after 5:00, and featured Tristen piping in the Haggis, which was prepared by Jim McCollum.

The band enjoyed an excellent meal prepared by the dining hall staff there at ASU.  It consisted of roast beef, mashed potatoes au gratin, a barley dish with mushrooms that was just excellent, a delicious cock-a-leekie soup, scones, and shortbread for desert.

The band went through the serving line first so we could get fed, and then be off to tune up and ready ourselves for the show that followed.  We retired just across the hall to the small theater, got all the instruments tuned up and ready to go, and awaited the arrival of the diners who joined us in the theater at 7:00.

We did a nice mix of band tunes, a duet of 3/4s, and Jimmy and Tristen playing dance tunes for Brook.


Tristen played my Fairylore pipe, with Fred Bowers on bodhran, and I played cittern and sang a rendition of Mairi's Wedding that was very well received.  The band is planning to record a CD in March, and Wally Hightower says if that's not on it, he ain't buyin' one.

The show wound down with Amazing Grace, Brook providing a lovely harp solo, and then the whole band performing Auld Lang Syne, We're Not Awa' ti Bide Awa', and Scotland the Brave.

All in all, it was a big hit and we had a really good time.  There was a group up from Shreveport for the event, and I think we made a lot of new friends in the south Arkansas - north Louisiana area as a result of this excursion.  Very nice folks, an excellent meal, and
a good show that was enjoyed by both audience and performers.  Doesn't get any better than that.

It was a long drive home, but Jimmy got us back in one piece.  Particular kudos go out to the drum corp, which has been doing a remarkable job of late, and to the Greeks who gave up the afternoon's Chapel Walk activities on campus to come with us and perform.

For the band,


Photos by DM Wally Hightower


Feb 21, 2005

Salutations Pipe Band Diary Visitors,

This past weekend the ever enjoyable Brooke Hollis and my dapper self trekked down to Maybevale for a wee Celtic Fair put on by the local church group, Celtic clubs/societies and the Scottish Society of the Ozarks. The drive was nae bad and the company was good, so the drive went by lickity split. The turnout was pretty good for the first year and everybody seemed to enjoy our contribution to the day's festivities. I opened the fair by parading the Irish wolfhounds (not to be confused with the Irish folk that attended), clansmen, the fairgoers and whoever else wanted to jump in. Brooke then did a lovely rendition of the Sean Triubhs and a Fling to a nicely tuned and rich bagpipe.

Brooke and I then went to investigate those huge beasties that had peacefully paraded to the skirl of me pipe. They're really cool animals; they're absolutely huge and lanky, yet friendly and docile, they nae bark nor bite and they seem to be interested in bagpipes or at least tolerant of them. I may have to get me one of these or one of their smaller cousins, the Scottish Deerhound, for a pet when I depart from Lyon. Add that with a tame bobcat and I'll be the most unique pet owner around.

After the fair we opted to go to the Arkansas Art Museum to see the Stabiae exhibit. It was quite an enjoyable exhibit; most of the pieces were frescoes, reliefs and statuary. Some were in incredible condition, others badly damaged. If you're into ancient Roman art this is the thing to see.

Brooke and I then headed down to the River Market for some grub. We decided on the Greek/Middle Eastern restaurant; it's always good and I was craving spiced food. I found the baba ghanouj and tabooli to be excellent as usual. Batesville really needs to get more ethnic restaurants, I'm so sick of all the fast food and drive-thru joints. Anyway it was a good day trip for both of us and it kept our minds off the upcoming midterms. Wish us luck.

Aye Yours,

I will add that Jim and I went to New Jersey for the weekend.  Jimmy was a competitor in the very prestigious Metro Cup contest, and I attended as a spectator.  I also attended an EC meeting of the EUSPBA.

Bruce Gandy won the Overall in the Open, and Dan Cole won the Overall in Amateur I (and was awarded a gorgeous silver mounted Naill bagpipe).  It was an excellent contest with some very high caliber piping on superb instruments.  The Metro Cup should be a model for solo contests going on all the country.  Very well organized, run, presented, and attended.  Kudos to the folks of the Metro Branch up there. 

I was particularly amazed at the ability of the judging panel to sit through close to 11 hours of piping. Even though it was of the highest quality, that has GOT to be rough work.

Even though Jim didn't make the prizes this time around, I thought he had the most impeccable sounding bagpipe, and he played without flaw.

It was also great fun to visit with all the piping folks.  There are just no better bunch of people on the planet.  I was fortunate to have met a lovely woman named Kelly who sat with me through the entire Open contest.  She was a first time spectator, and was asking intelligent questions and only at appropriate times.  Smart, beautiful women and Piobaireachd are an excellent mix for any Saturday afternoon.  I'd go again tomorrow.