May 3, 2004
The 1st Annual Pipe Band Barbeque kicked off this past weekend at the gorgeous "bi-jimminy" (read Donald Harringtonís The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks) Grigsby House.*
The lovely Mrs. Bell, young John Bell, and their pet Welsh Corgi named Jack were in attendance as well.
Kudos to the Williams family for their superb culinary skills; the burgers more than filled a hole in time oí need as Robbie Burns would say.
The Jonesboro boys (Travis, John "Old Blue" Vorhees and Danny "Damn glad to meet you" Vaughn) joined us for a bite and blather.
I finally got the pony I always wanted, Jimmy gave it to me for my birthday present.
A wicked croquet tournament ensued for the remainder of the day. Croquet brought out all the evil in the participants, even including Patrick "Young Stinson". Overall, Derrick "Saucy Jack" Williams wound up getting the first, while Kenton got second, and I third. Watch out for Kenton, heís a hustler when it comes to croquet and he was also taking his revenge out on me for having injured his elbow in a lively tennis match. I tried using the Rod Laver grip, but it was to no avail, I lost.
Fun times were had by all and it was a great way to wrap up a very busy year.
Also, Jimmy and his wife Liz are quitting smoking, which is excellent news.
* I have to insert here that Don Harington actually uses the totally scientific term, "bigeminal" to describe this particular form of architecture and The Remarkable Mr. Dean is making a funny. And I ruled him in croquet. Next year as he's going around the pitch, he needs to stop and ask himself before every shot, "WWKD?". And crying like a girl won't save him.
End Of The Year Bonus Round
Dearest Pipe Band Diary Visitors,
The year is slowly coming to a close and the competition season is just getting started. It seems just like last week we were in New York; time has just gone whizzing by. I trust Kenton, Jimmy, Sergei, Watson, Wally, Patrick , Danny and the others to hold down the fort over the summer. Iím headed back to Idaho for the summer. A well deserved break after a very long school year. I canít wait to get back home, but by the time the second week rolls around Iíll want to come back.
I think just about everybody in the pipe band has been busy this year, just take a look at the past diary entries. The diary up to now covers maybe half of what we have done this year.
Before I ventured into the great state of Arkansas I had never been in the American South or anything east of the mighty Mississippi. Little did I know that I would visit most of these locales by the close of the school year. First it was Tulsa, then Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Montgomery, New Orleans, and finally New York City. I probably forgot a whole bunch but to continue the list would be nauseating. In essence veni, vidi, piobi.
This year has been a year of rebuilding; when I arrived last August there were only three people in the pipe band (two returning pipers and one drummer) and now we have nearly twenty in the performing band and a whole passel of folk coming up under tutelage. There is also a substantial influx of players for next fall. We have far more people than kilts to put on 'em. We have completed our missions this year, which were to promote the image of the college locally, regionally, and nationally, boost admissions, raise the bandís GPA, and bolster the bandís financial status.
The ASF was a bit of a bummer, because of the torrential downpours, but there was nae we could do. Despite a couple technical difficulties all the people I talked to said that they loved the location change and the increased activity brought on by the changes. Next year itíll be sunny and gorgeous; 10,000 people will be up on the campus, we wonít know where to put them all.
Thanks to all the folks that aided the festival, especially the maintenance and security guys, who worked long into the wee small hours of the night to keep the tents and canopies from being torn in two.
I look forward to next semester; weíll be doing the same amount of stuff and having just as good of a time.
Thanks for tuning in and special thanks go to Amy Ladley and Elizabeth Rowe for their undying attention to the Pipe Band Diary.
Tristen M. Dean a.k.a. "Ghillie
Well, all I have to say is two weeks ago I was telling Jimmy how glad I was that summer is coming and that we'd be getting a little breather. HA! And may I repeat, HA! As of right now I have something pipe-related going just about every weekend until at least the end of July. And they just keep calling.
We just celebrated Baccalaureate and Commencement over the weekend here at Alma Mater. The 132nd, if memory serves. It was the first year they've held the ceremony in front of the new Derby Center for Math and Science (quite the edifice indeed), and the conclusion to the first school year with the band under the direction of Pipe Major Jimmy Bell. And a rip-roarer of a year it was too. Our lovely dance instructor, Margaret Rendina, graduated with a degree in History and will be leaving us. She'll be missed. And she looked TOTALLY hot Friday night before covering up that great looking black and white dress with her regalia. Cheers, Mags!
For those not familiar with goings-on at Lyon, on Friday night the Baccalaureate is held. The band (in uniform of course) leads a procession of the graduating class, faculty, staff, and platform party (all in academic regalia with honor cords and all) from the Alphin building, down the sidewalk in front of the administration building, and into the Brown Chapel auditorium where a service is held. At the end of the ceremony we line up and lead the whole bunch up the stairs leading to the stage and out the back of the chapel, across Couch Garden, alongside the library, down through the parking lot, across the street and down a bit to Brian Lake. We proceed all the way around the lake and the graduating seniors drop off one at a time en route and are handed a torch. Once we get around and they are all in position the torches start getting lit, and they pass the "fire of learning" onto the next person down until a ring of torches goes around the lake. Then a solo piper, this year Lance "LoveGuns" Dorris, plays Amazing Grace. The ceremony was concluded with a slightly delayed fireworks display in the middle of the lake. All this just after darkness falls, and really quite lovely. Except I don't care if I don't hear Scotland the Brave or Lyon College March for a couple of days.
Saturday morning was clear, bright, and warmish by the 9:30 start for Commencement. Nothing says "comfort" like wool for an 85 degree morning in Arkansas in May. Fortunately the most excellent administrative staff here at the college placed water bottles under all our chairs, and put us in a minimally shady spot beside the stage. Could've been MUCH worse. As it was, I got a pretty good right-side-of-the-face-with-Glengarry-striped-forehead glow out of it. The fine folks in Maintenance had the grounds looking gorgeous, as always. We marched 'em in. We marched 'em out. Everyone seemed to be very excited by the band. We managed to field seven pipers and four drummers in spite of being deprived of a sizeable handful of pipers for various reasons. The Remarkable Mr. Dean had already departed for Idaho and was sorely missed. I hope he's already bored and looking forward to his return. In any case, we helped the Class of 2004 wind up their time here at Lyon on a positive note. A "Low A", if memory serves.
I had another engagement Saturday evening, playing for a wedding near Heber Springs. One of the most beautiful views I've ever seen. The groom was a very nice fellow named Blake Langston who was enquiring after chanter lessons, and who I hope will be joining us here in the near future. Our new class of beginners is forming and starts next Tuesday night. We should have a very large group by Fall. "Big Sexy" is coming along in a most impressive manner and will be on pipes by September, or I'm a drummer's ghillie, and the beginners group looks to be about five or six folks at this point.
Jim and I leave this Friday for Springfield IL to spy on the MWPBA, and the next big event for the band is another trip to New Orleans in mid-June to play a golf tournament sponsored by some outfit called Coca Cola. They also lined us up with a couple of other gigs while we're there, and we figure to scout a couple of locations to play when we return for Mardi Gras again next February. Meanwhile, we'll be holding beginners lessons on Tuesday nights and regular band practices on Thursday nights starting next week.
You can't stop us. It's what we do.
For the band
On Thursday, May 13th I went to an event at the local museum. This event was a history of Isaac Long, founder, and first president of the college. It seems 2 of our own were responsible for the research and setup. Margaret Rendina and Chris Slaymaker both had a hand in it and were mentioned in the program. These SHP people are everywhere (as it should be)
Just back from a little jaunt up to Springfield, IL. I like to go up every year for the games there sponsored by the St. Andrews Society. It's held at the state fairgrounds, in the infield of the horse racing track. They hold sulky racing there. A lot of times they will be out working the horses in the morning, but the track was muddy this year.
Jimmy drove, and as always we had a very pleasant trip. Good conversation, talk about what we accomplished this past school year and plans for next year. The great thing about traveling with Jim is that he's interested in everything and so we cover a lot of ground. Young John Bell, who is now beginning on the practice chanter and will be a vital part of future Lyon bands, had a school project on Friday morning and Jim and I went over to Batesville Junior High prior to our Springfield departure and played a little pipe to support John's presentation on bagpiping. That gave us a bit of a late start, and so we didn't arrive at the hotel until about 9:00. We freshened up and went downstairs to the hotel lounge and listened to a bluegrass band for a bit. First time I've ever seen a performer do yoga onstage as part of a pre-gig warm-up.
Saturday morning was a little cool and cloudy. I had a decent run with seconds in March and S/R, and third in the H/J. I had a nice sounding pipe, but cold, old fingers. I got comments along the line of my being overly cautious and not getting enough expression in my playing. Accurate too. I wasn't impressed with myself by a long shot, but not disappointed either. I got my competition out of the way early, and we spent the rest of the day visiting with friends and listening to the bands. Russ Read from PIPERS-L was there with his wife and son, Ian (who is also on chanter now and we hope eyeballing Lyon as a potential college destination). We also saw James Hopkins and Matt Panteleoni from the Invera'an pipe band in St. Louis. Great guys, and always a pleasure to visit with. Springfield St. Andrews bands, under the able direction of Tom Ogilvy, won both the Grade V and IV. Iowa Scottish, who have made tremendous progress over the last couple of years, wond the Grade III, and Midlothian from Chicago had the honors in Grade II.
We went out for dinner at a nice little Italian place just around the corner from the hotel. I had the richest lasagna I've ever eaten, and couldn't even finish it. The place was was really busy, and obviously a local favorite. Everyone in there seemed to know all the staff as well as one another.
We came back the longer route, down I-44 through Rolla, and then south on 63. Just a nice ride, and pleasant scenery.
We start up with band again tonight with a new group of beginning chanter students. We aren't even sure where they're all coming from, but a nice bunch of people continue to show up and get involved. And we're glad to have 'em. It's been lonesome with the students gone for the summer. Only a couple of weeks so far, and we miss the little tykes already.
For the band,
Once again a busy week. Things don't change so very much with the students away for the summer. The beginners class started off Tuesday night with 5 new pipers. The age mix was as expected with a couple of youngsters 10-13, a couple of late teens and one adult, age less than 30.
Wednesday, May 19th I went up to Horseshoe Bend, for a Family Dinner demo at the Presbyterian church. A question/ answer session followed. Very nice people indeed, and some Lyon connections as one would expect.
Saturday I was asked to have a short blow for the Downtown Batesville street fair. A half hour or so of playing was well received I believe.
Sunday was the 125th anniversary of the Beebe Presbyterian Church. Haley Skinner, a talented dance student attended with me. We performed the highland fling for them along with a couple small pipe tunes.
That's it for this week, more to follow.
I went to Wickes, AR (5.5 hours away), to play a funeral today. The deceased was SFC Troy Leon Miranda of that town. He was KIA in Iraq the previous week. A sad affair indeed. Glad we could assist the family with this final request. This graveside service was handled a bit differently than usual. I played AG before the flag ceremony, salute, and taps. The standard procedure is to play at the end, but he was killed in action, I felt it should be done with comrades paying their respects at the end.