October 11, 2005

October has been busy already.  It began with a trip to Murfreesboro TN for a handful of Lyon soloists on the first.  Jimmy carried Vince Moore and Cody Wagnon in his car, and I had The Remarkable Mr. Dean and Fred "Six-finger" Bowers in my vehicle.  It was a nice trip over in good weather with just a couple of stops for coffee and such, and we made fair time.

The host hotel was The Doubletree and accommodations were pretty decent. We had dinner at the Outback in an adjacent strip mall, and I went out afterward and had a few tunes in the parking lot to make sure my pipe was in order.  Then it was back to the room for a little TV and some sleep.  We got up early and had the hotel buffet breakfast and lit out down the road for the twenty minute trip to the games site.  Quite a nice venue, apparently the home to a regular Renaissance fair or something, as there was a jousting arena set up, as well as some stages scattered among the trees on the hillside, and paths winding throughout.  There was some confusion as to our admission, but that got worked out and we wound our way over to the piping competition area in the company of the celebrated Jimmy McIntosh and his charming wife Joyce, both of whom were judging that morning.  Our own Jimmy Bell was also recruited to judge, as they had more entries than expected.

The day started off a bit on the cool side, but the competition was hot.  Vince Moore wound up with the Piper of the Day award, Tristen had his usual strong showing in Grade III.  Cody won the Grade IV 2/4 March, and I managed to squeak out a third in the Grade II Piobaireachd.  We heard some fine playing throughout the day by competitors from the south-central region, and we visited with a few friends, both new and old.

We stayed over that evening at the Doubletree, but probably should've headed back for all the sleep we got.  There was some reunion going on downstairs, and the revelers adjourned to a room across the hall from us and were making a horrendous amount of noise at 2:30 AM in spite of being asked quite politely by Tristen, Cody, and eventually hotel security to keep it down.  It might've been a good time for a drive-by piping.  They would've never known what hit 'em.

October 7th found us en route as a band to St. Louis for a competition in Midwest Pipe Band Association territory.  We pulled into the games' host hotel, The Marriott across the highway from the airport, at about 5:30 or so.  I was dead tired and don't even recall ever having dinner.  I heard some of the others ordered a couple of pizzas, but I wasn't there to witness.  I hit the sack pretty early.  We got up Saturday morning at 6:00 dressed out and departed the hotel at 7:00 and headed for the games site in beautiful Forest Park.  We stopped at McDonalds on the way though, and probably gave those poor folks something to talk about for a year, as nearly 20 kilted pipers and drummers descended upon them and secured numerous sausage-a-muffins and breakfast burritos.

The neighborhood around Forest Park is really gorgeous, as is the park itself.  Very nice venue for a Highland games.  They had moved the piping, drumming, and bands are this year to a most agreeable location within the park, and we set up our enclave right near a food vendor that advertised "The best 12" of meat in the Midwest".  That came in handy later.


We started the morning off with many of the band competing in solos.  I spent my morning helping tune up the various pipers, and playing for the Boehm twins in their solo drumming competitions.  One is Frankie, and one is Will, but I can barely tell the difference in person, much less in these pictures, so you're on your own.


Again, our soloists showed quite well, with Vince winning the Grade II aggregate, Tristen finishing with a couple of firsts and a third in Grade III, and Cody finishing fourth in the 2/4 in Grade IV.

I grabbed one of the 12" kabobs from the meat place for lunch (I told you they would come in handy later), and had a nice conversation with Barry Conway from the Ohio Branch of the EUSPBA who was there as a guest judge.  I returned to the band tents and found everyone quite relaxed, enjoying the day.  About an hour before we were scheduled to compete, Jimmy had us get the pipes and drums out and we began to prepare.  Allyn Dodd definitely got the award for cutest lead tip, and Sergei for best ankles. 


Jimmy had us all blow our pipes a bit and went around doing some spot tuning, but for the most part I thought we sounded pretty darn good right out of the box.  Shows that pipes are being maintained and played, and we can be ready to go in a matter of minutes.  We ran through some tunes just to get loose, and just stayed cool until it was time for us to head over to Final Tuning.  We had a pretty fair run, and I felt good about how we did in the competition which pitted us against bands from Springfield IL, Indianapolis IN, and Minneapolis MN in the Grade IV.  The finger of God touched Tristen as we were marching out, so I knew we were in good shape.


Some of us stuck around and listened to the Grade III contest featuring KC St. Andrews, St. Louis Invera'an, and the Indiana Caledonians, who challenged up.  KC had the best run that day to my ear.  Overall we were quite pleased with the sound.

Then it was just a matter of waiting for massed bands and the announcement of the day's victors.  As I'd thought, KC took the Grade III honors, and Lyon College won the Grade IV.  A special tip of the hat to the drummers.  They had Best Drum Corp, and also Best Bass.  We were led off the field by Vince's sister and her friend carrying the plaque on our behalf.


Now, you'd think that would be quite enough for one weekend, but not for Lyon.  We had a nice group dinner and then some rest (interrupted by the hotel fire alarm going off just after midnight and forcing us all outside for a while).  We got up at 6:00 again on sunday, dressed and loaded up the van and trailer and headed south to Imperial MO where we played for a kirkin'-o-the-tartan for our friend Liz Lindsey, pastor of the Rock Presbyterian Church.  Pretty little town with a great local cafe for breakfast, and Liz's church was packed with very appreciative parishioners and visitors, many of whom had not attended a service like this before.  I think we gave them a pretty good earful of bagpipe, and every seemed to enjoy us very much.  We hope we can make this an annual pair of events.

For the band,


Photos by Wally Hightower (except for the massed band picture he's in).


Oct 31, 2005

October continued to be a busy month for the band and dancers. Fred Bowers performed at quite a few events during the month as the majority of the band was away on the weekends. Many thanks to Freddy Sixfingers.

Several soloists went to Stone Mountain, Georgia, for the games and came away with some hardware. Great to see old friends and make some new ones. Our Homecoming weekend was October 21-23rd. We started off with the Gala held under the Big Tent on campus. A large turnout for this event, as it coincided with the rollout of our latest fundraising campaign. Lots of heavy hitters at that one. We performed a bit of our concert at the Talent Show that night to good applause. The dancers, Ceilidh Band , and Pipe Band were all involved. Saturday is the Convocation. We march the seniors along with faculty and cabinet members around Couch Gardens where awards are presented. A lovely day for this year's Convocation. We also played for the men's and women's soccer games as well as the Homecoming King and Queen winners. Congrats to those folks. Sunday was our own Kirkin Service in Brown Chapel. It had decided to turn quite cold that morning, so we were glad of the warm wool coats.

For the rest of the month, funerals were attended by several of the pipers. Serge and Holly Kuzin moved to California so Serge could start grad school. We were sorry to see him go, but I'm sure he'll be more than welcome at one of the bands out that way.

We are gearing up in earnest for next year's World's Championships. Twice a week practice, working hard on our set of tunes.

For the band,

Jimmy Bell