September 23, 2004

Well, SOMEBODY has to do it, so I'll take it upon myself to tell ya what's been going on.

September has been a busy month.  Are there any months that aren't?  We spent many an hour since the students returned living up to our reputation here on campus.  The bagpipes really never stop.

We played a gig down in Little Rock at the very upscale and beautiful Chenal Country Club.  It was for a golf tournament they were holding there.  A team from Chenal was pitted against a team from Pinnacle if I was tracking correctly.  At 6:30PM on Thursday evening, the 16th, we formed up at a tee on the 18th hole and marched up the fairway to the clubhouse and formed a concert formation on the backside of the putting green.  Then the golfers all came out and lined up.  About 60 of them by my rough count.  We recited the Pledge of Allegiance together.  They introduced each team member, and handed them some sort of commemorative piece.  Then we played again as they all walked over and picked up champagne glasses for a toast.  When the ceremony was over we marched off playing and proceeded back to the cars.  It was pretty hot and humid out there, and I missed the Joseph Campbell Roundtable meeting downtown, but I think it was a nice gig for the band, and the golfers seemed to enjoy having us there.

Most of the band went out for dinner together after.  I think it was Brooke's birthday.  Tristen and Kate hopped in the car with me though, and we high-tailed it back to Batesville with no stops so Kate could make a meeting.  She was late, but hopefully still got some of it in.  Someone else will have to fill you in on the dinner part.

Next morning Jim and I picked up a couple of vans from the cute blonde at the rental join by Penneys.  Then I got in my car and drove to Tulsa.  I arrived at the Super 8 deluxe accommodation and met up with Oklahoma Scottish Pipes and Drums.  Laurie Joslin, the wife of band manager and piper Stew Joslin belongs to a family of VERY nice people who threw a tailgate party for OSP&D.  I got to go because I'm their instructor, and they like me.  More than enough brisket, roast chicken, potato salad, beans, chocolate cake, and soft drinks to go around.  It should ALWAYS be so nice the night before a games.  Unfortunately for the rest of my Lyon band-mates, they didn't leave Batesville until around midnight, and arrived at the games site around 6:30AM on Saturday. 

We spent the morning competing in our respective solo events.  Lance Dorris scored seconds in the Grade I.  Patrick McLaurin had first in the Grade II MSR and H/J.  I was fourth and fifth respectively, but had first in the Piobaireachd.  Tristen Dean was a bit disappointed with his finishes in the Grade III, but will assuredly fare better as the year progresses.  I think Neal McCarthy had a prize in there somewhere, but I regret I don't recall what.  Luke Frauenthal took first in his contest.  Darrick Williams won second in the bass drum competition, and the delightful Allyn "Dr." Dodd did likewise in tenor.  Hayley Skinner won her class overall in dancing as well.

It got hot.  REALLY hot.  And it was bone dry as the day progressed.  I think I spent $15 on bottle water and lemonade throughout the day.  Massed bands was on the verge of becoming death march 2004 until Rick Ewing from the City of Tulsa band saved the day.  Then band competitions got going.  Our Grade V guys did an outstanding job, placing third in their contest.  Remarkable because only one of them has been on pipes for over a year, and all of the drummers are also new to the game.  It was a first time in the competition circle for everyone but Jimmy, who was there for moral support.  They managed to come in ahead of five other bands, and it demonstrated that hard work and belief in yourself can pay dividends.  The Grade III band also had our first contest together.  We did not win first prize, but we won a moral victory by playing a really good MSR after only three weeks of practicing all together, and again having several members on the field who had never competed in a band contest before.  I think Jim Bell can be really proud of the groundwork he's laid for the coming years, and that everybody needs to look out when they hear Lyon is going to be playing against them.

The band went out for dinner.  I think it was Brooke's birthday again.  Someone else will have to fill you in because I was at a meeting of the Executive Commitee of the Southwest Branch of the EUSPBA.  Say THAT three times fast.  Anyway, all I got to eat was some crumbs and a glass of warm water.

They all departed about 4:00AM on Sunday, but Mr. Dean stayed behind and road back with me.  We had a leisurely drive back across north Arkansas on 412, with a stop for breakfast in Springdale, and another at the yeast-free bread store in Leslie.  They have great ginger ale there.  Then we stopped in Mountain View for a bit and did a drive-by piping.

Here are a few of us out in front of Brown Chapel during a video shoot the other night.  Sergei's sister, Marina.  Took 'em.

 

Where's Jimmy?
(Hint - Over in front of the statue of George Washington, trying to make a straight $#&^%^&*# line)

A sizeable contingent from the band departs tomorrow for Montgomery AL.  I have a wedding to play in Little Rock on Saturday evening and will be remaining behind for this one.  St. Louis is coming up in a couple of weeks, however, and we're looking forward to that.

For the band,

Ken