September 12, 2005

The condemned straggled slowly to their punishment. Sullen looks, red eyes, yawns, overall drag assed-ness ruled the day.

Come on people! It’s just a three hour practice. At least you’re not running up and down the soccer field all day, every day in August. Cowboy the hell up.

With the competition in Tulsa exactly a week away, and the band having been together for only three weeks, practice is exactly what we needed. Jimmy made sure that was what we got.


Hour one. Tuning, warm up, play it over and over until you’re all together. Jimmy moving from one to the other making minor twists and turns to tune the drones, singling out one drone from the thirty-six that were, well, droning. “Do it again.” Followed a short time later by “Do it again.” interspersed with “Your too sharp on that note” or “You came in late at the strike in” and other helpful hints that, as a non piper, I didn’t understand in the least. That wasn’t important. The pipers knew what needed doing.

“Fifteen minute break, then we’ll start practice.” Ok, what have we been doing for the past hour?


Hour two. Everybody together, four drummers, twelve pipers. “Do it again”. Sound familiar? For fifty minutes the band plays the competition piece over and over, each time a little better, or a little worse, or just the same as last time. The point of the exercise is to play the piece without having to think about doing it.

“Ten minutes” called the Pipie and almost everybody filed inside to enjoy the air conditioning. Somehow during this break the bass drum appeared outside to form part of the next circle.

Hour three. “Wally, try the bass drum for a while.” Me? I’m just here to take pictures. Playing the competition piece while I fumbled my way around the big drum consumed half an hour. That part was in the shade. The marching into circle and reforming was not.

It’s just not enough to stand in one place and play, you have to get to the competition circle, then back off the field in some semblance of order. Think it’s easy? Get any eighteen people you know together and have them stay in step, and in line and file, while they march across campus. It’s good for a laugh if nothing else.

So, for half an hour, on the pavement, the band marched on, turned, circled, played, reformed, marched off and did it again. Suddenly it started to look more like a formation and less like a gaggle.


Four p.m. and the finish line everyone started looking for when the arrived. Only two more practices before the first competition.

So, how did they look? How did they sound?

Better every minute. “Make them take the trophy away from us” was the catch phrase.

Let them try.

Words and Images - DM Wally Hightower

Where's Jimmy???

The Tone Doctor is IN!

September 21, 2005

The month is slowly winding down and we've been busy, busy, busy.  Practices have been long and intense and we've sprinkled a few gigs in.  The morning of the Saturday where we held the three hour practice Jimmy, Tristen, Haley and I had already been to the clean-up day at Greer's Ferry and played.  Well, Haley danced.  Then the morning following the big practice we were out at Jacksonport for the yearly church service and picnic we play for Dr. Ford's congregation from Newport.  Again, a nice service, and an outstanding meal prepared by the ladies of the church.  It was pretty warm out, but all-in-all a lovely day.

This past weekend found us in Tulsa for our first competition of the school year.  It as a great trip.  We left early on Friday morning and made pretty fair time for us.  We got in about 3:30 in the afternoon and were able to just relax a bit at the hotel.  They had told us they would keep the pool open beyond Labor Day just for us, but apparently the city inspectors made them cover it up.  We still had a really nice time that evening with a PIGnic in the parking lot with our friends from Oklahoma Scottish Pipes and Drums.  It also served as a quick practice for the following day, and a concert for the hotel guests who watched from a distance.  They thought we were drinking.  Man, those home-made cornhusk tamales ROCKED!


Saturday morning had us suited up and having a light breakfast at Village Inn, and then off to the games site.  Some slightly incorrect directions from the night before caused an overshoot of the exit ramp off  244, and some driving in circles, but we got to the new site where the games were being held for the first time and found it to be most suitable.  Right along the banks of the Arkansas River across from downtown Tulsa.  Not as many trees as the old site in Chandler Park, but we came prepared with tents and coolers of water and soda. And while OTHER bands were out sweating, and blowing on their bagpipes WAY too much, we were relaxing and doing a bit of homework. 


Okay, not everyone was doing homework.  Many of our pipers and drummers competed in solo.  John Coates and Tristen Dean won the aggregates for Grade V and III respectively.  And one of our outreach pipers (who we hope will follow his sister to Lyon in a couple of years) Will Sayre, won the Grade II.  Neil McCarthy and Sergei Kuzin tied for the aggregate in Grade IV.  Frankie and Will Boehm also won medals for solo drumming.  So Lyon won the aggregates in four of the five solo categories.  Danny Vaughn didn't win a medal, but should've picked up a few EUSPBA points for a fourth place finish in Grade IV, and he looked real sharp.

There were eight or nine bands present by my count.  The announcer said fifteen, but I think he overstated.  Still, it was an impressive turnout, and we all looked and sounded good.  Especially Lyon in the jackets.  Thank GOD it was cooler this year than last year.


Anderson Pipe Band from Tulsa won the Grade V, followed by Ozark Highlanders of Fayetteville, and the Bayou City band from Louisiana was third.  Lyon won the Grade IV with firsts in all categories.  We are particularly proud of the drum corp for their outstanding performance against a considerably more experienced N. Texas corp.  Here's a photo of us in the circle during the competition.

During final massed bands the games organizers gave away a number of very nice prizes, including a smallpipe and full-sized GHB.  Lyon band folk managed to come up with six of the ten piping sheet music CDs supplied by Ceol Sean, underscoring that the fates were smiling on us that day, thanks undoubtedly to Tristen's sacrifice to Jupiter.

I would like to comment on our competitor's good sportsmanship and exemplary behavior during massed bands, but prudence and diplomacy precludes.  We'll remember for next time though, to be sure.

Finally, there was some question about why our Drum Major was absent during noon massed bands.  And survey says:

Where's Wally???

For the Band

Kenton Adler

Photos by Wally Hightower - though I'm not sure how he got that last one.