June 3, 2004

To some, Memorial Day is nothing more than a vacation day from work. Often, people cook-out, throw parties, or just whatever suits their fancies. For me, however, Memorial Day is something quite different.

Being a Disabled American Veteran, I look on this day as a day of remembrance to my fallen shipmates and brothers-in-arms. I know that it is hard to understand why I look at it like this, but if you have ever served in the military, you would understand.

Anyway, I had the honor and privilege to play the Memorial Service that the Boy Scouts held at Pioneer Park on Monday. It was my first gig and I was a little nervous. But that is not the important thing about that day. The importance for me was in remembering all the men and women who have fallen in combat.

I do want to thank Jimmy for giving me the opportunity to play at the service. It meant a lot to me to be a part of it.

Saucey Jack (aka Derrick Williams)
 

June 11, 2004

We were going to let Haley write this entry about PortFest last week so none of us would say anything stupid about how cute her mom is, and how the apple don't fall far from the tree.  But, Haley's going off with Grey on a trip to the beach and won't be back for a while, and I'm relatively certain that I can control myself and not say Haley's mom is cute, and so is Haley, so I'll just write it up myself.

We did a nice little day's worth of piping and drumming on June 5th out at Jacksonport, about 15 or so miles southeast of Batesville on the White River.  There is an absolutely lovely state park there and they hold a festival every summer that features carnival rides, food booths, crafts vendors, picnic areas, and a big stage where various local acts appear during the day and big country stars appear on Saturday night.  We were invited to participate this year and had a splendid time.

The weather was gorgeous.  It was low 80s temperature-wise, low humidity, and fair skies with just a few puffy Cumulus Humilis (maybe a couple of Fractus) occasionally passing in front of the sun.  Couldn't really ask for better.  Not even TOO uncomfortable for wool kilts, especially under the shade of the numerous trees in the park. 

The event was set up along both sides of the road through the park.  We would start at one end of the site with Wally Hightower out front in all his fines, and Jim Bell calling it out, and march down the road playing one march set or another in parade fashion.  Then we would find a shady spot and take turns playing solos, duets, trios, or some more band tunes.  Then we'd take a breather for 15 or twenty minutes and then head the other way and find a spot at the other end of the festivities.  We went back and forth four or five times over the course of the day.  It was particularly fun because there were numerous families there, and the little kids really seem to get a kick out of the ruckus we make coming up the road.

During the course of the week following we held a couple of regular band practices on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and welcomed a new member to the band.  Fred Bowers has just moved up from Mississippi with his wife, Nancy.  Nancy is working for the college in Admissions and Fred will be enrolled this fall as an art student and will be taking lessons from Jim and joining us as a piper.  He's another multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, bouzouki, bodhran, and low whistle and we expect him to be a tremendous asset to the band in the coming years.

Big Sexy got fitted out with a stand of loaner pipes Tuesday night and was blowing tunes with all three drones and a semblance of tone going.  He's going to make a sterling piper.  Fists like matured hams, and fingers like butterfly wings.

Some solo activity going on this weekend with Derrick, Justin, and Jimmy all playing gigs around the region.  Derrick has the duty at a Relay For Life event, Justin a funeral, and Jim a wedding.  I was going to head up to Kansas City for competition, but wound up having to work today due to a freshman orientation session and several of the staff in my department being on vacation, so the MWPBA Grade II pipers caught a break.  The judges an even BIGGER break.  Hehe.

Danny Vaughn is starting the search for a new stand of pipes.  He sounded pretty nice last night at practice going over some 6/8s.  He has made remarkable strides this past year and will be a solid foundation piper next competition season.

We miss Tristen, Lance, Leslie, and Sister Kate.  Come home soon kids.  We're also looking forward to the new crop of kids coming in the fall.  Some promising recruits by the sound of it.  Hard to believe that June is already 1/3 over, but in a way I'm glad.

Made it all the way without saying Haley's mom is cute, and so is Haley.

Photos from PortFest 04

For the band -

Ken

 

June 30, 2004

We ended the month doing mostly solo things here and there.  Jim had a couple of funerals, Derrick played the Relay for Life benefit and had his photo in the Arkansas Weekly.  He and Sergei also played a gig together at the community college.

Band practices have been going very well.  We have a good group of beginners coming regularly on Tuesday nights and showing some talent. 

Word is that there will be a lot of new students joining us in the fall, and we expect to be ready for competition in Tulsa come September.  Jim is polishing up the competition set.

For the band -

Ken