March 15

Ken here, with a quick report on recent activities.  Last week was spring break on the Lyon College campus, so a portion of the band was awa' ti haim.  Jim and Steve were gallivanting all over the country on tour with the concert choir.  Tristen and I held down the fort.  We played tennis a couple times, and went to practice on Tuesday night, were it was the two of us and John "Old Blue" Voorhees.

Thursday night a good portion of the crew was back in town and we had a regular practice.  We covered the competition medley, but mostly played the parade tunes.

That would be because we had a parade on Saturday.  Little Rock held their annual St. Patrick's Day parade and we were invited to participate.  It started at MacArthur Park, went west on 9th to Main, and then north toward the River Market.  It was a grey day, slightly on the cool side, and light rain falling intermittently.  Summer in Scotland.  We got there about 11:30 AM and the parade didn't light off until 1:00, so we stood around and got nice and chilly.  Always best to play with cold, stiff fingers.  We had a good time horsing around in the parking lot though, and talked a bit with our friends from the Red River Pipe Band who had come up from Shreveport.


There's Jimmy!

The parade isn't too terribly long.  A little over a mile or so.  It went pretty smoothly and without significant incident.  The crowd was very small due to the weather, and they'd changed the route toward the end, probably due to construction, so it wasn't the usual turn-out I've experienced before. 


Mags, The Great Kate, and Old Blue trying to stay warm.

About a block before the end of the parade "Old Blue" said, "Could be worse. At least we didn't get a downpour".  I told him to shut up, but it was TOO LATE.  Just as we reached the end of the route the skies opened in earnest and gave us a bit of a soaking.  We high-tailed it to cover though, so no harm done.  I'm so sweet I have to watch getting wet or I dissolve.


Lance and Steve.

The majority of the band adjourned to The Underground for a bite to eat, but I was looking for a friend and stayed there in the pavilion behind the River Market.  They had Irish step dancers performing, and Red River had finished a set just as we arrived.  I was standing around with my pipe when one of the organizers found me and told me they had expected the band to play a set, but they had failed to mention that to Jimmy and we were all packed up and all.  So, I stepped up and played an Irish medley, a slow air and some folk tunes, and a medley with a hornpipe/jig/air/strathspey/reel.  My chanter reed was wet, and I could've cut roast beef with my F.  The audience didn't seem to mind though, and I got a little tape on that F and settled it a bit.  All in all, not a bad day.  Except my friend never showed.

So, we're now practicing and gearing up for the big New York trip coming in a couple of weeks.

For the band,

The Mysterious Uncle Ken

Photos by DM Wally Hightower

 

March 26

Just a real quick update.  Jim got a call to play another St. Patrick's Day parade last week, so we did.  In this case though, it was just him and me, and we helped set a Guinness world record for The World's Smallest St. Patrick's Day Parade.  It was held in Hot Springs on Bridge St., and was all of about 90 feet long.  Pretty funny really.  We drove two and a half hours to get there, and our part of the parade lasted long enough to play The Minstrel Boy one time through.  We did get to talk to The World's Largest Leprechaun though.  He was about DM Hightower sized, and wearing a green satin suit, and had his bear dyed bright red.  Interesting look.  There was also quite a large crowd of spectators.  We also stopped at Cracker Barrel and had a great dinner on the way home.  It was a good time.

Meeting last night to cover all the particulars of next week's sojourn to New York.  We also took some pictures with our gorgeous new parade banner, and Jim showed off the plaque we received for being the best band in the Rex Parade at Mardi Gras.

In addition to preparing for the New York trip, we're readying everything for the 25th Arkansas Scottish Festival coming up at the end of next month.  A couple of weeks after that and it's graduation.  Hard to believe this school year is flying by so quickly.

We have quite a few new prospects for next year.  The band could effectively double in size.  We're gonna need some new kilts and jackets.

For the band,

Ken