Friday, August 28, 2009

... Over the Rainbows


There comes a time each year where you just have to shut down and get away from it all - a renewal for better things to come. Right?... Of course I am right! For me, puttting a 9 wt. fly rod in my hand and dropping me in the middle of nowhere for a few days allows my body and mind to meld with nature - enables a cleansing of whatever residual trash exists from the previous few months and opens the doors for a fresh, positive attitude the rest of the year. Everyone can prosper from a break from their busy summer pursuits - and for me, teaching schools, judging, highland games and far too much travel! It is always uplifting to get past the World's in August - marvel at the Gold Medal results for Oban and Inverness - congratulate all my friends for their summer successes and then just disappear! This year, I have talked my piper brother (photo inset) into flying to Anchorage, Alaska with me. There, we will be joined by two other pipers from Juneau and a retired music teacher from Washington State. The last you will see of us for 8 days will be the Continental lounge at the airport. We are heading west - a small plane to Illiamna and then a Beaver the rest of the way to Talarik Creek - imagine west of Anchorage and all you see on the map is wilderness and Russia! So, for a week there will be nothing except bears, moose, trophy sized rainbow trout and us. Does it get any better ?... so long piping! See you in October.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

... In My Rear View Mirror


The World Championships is over for another year so it only remains to sit back and reflect upon my impressions for the extended week in Glasgow. Certainly the Grade 1 arena itself, the primary purpose of any trip, takes the featured spot. However, ranking a close second are all the events of Piping Live and the Todd's Bar. I MC'd the Drumming event and kicked off Drumming for Drinks. It is the latter that leaves a lasting impression - Top Secret, the Basil, Switzerland based drum corps performed live - I mean really live, right in front of us. Thanks have to go to Jim Kilpatrick for making this possible. Roddy MacDonald kicked off his new book with a launch at the Piping Centre... the Perth and North Berwick Highland Games provided a great backdrop for meeting friends from everywhere. Normally I would be judging and miss this opportunity, so in a back-handed way, perhaps I should thank the powers to be for this year's suspension from the judging panel. The photo here depicts a rare opportunity where Bob Worrall and myself had the chance to dine with our South African friends on the Monday nite prior to the championships. I judged two solo events - the piping quartettes and the piping idol contest...both very relaxing and less formal that some. If anything, the qualifier for the Grade 1 was a big disappointment. First of all, the first 6 bands or so were at an extreme disadavantage - not only playing early in the morning, but also in a terrible downpour. This resulted in several subpar performances - none as major as the 78th Fraser Highlanders - perennial finals' competitor. There were few outstanding performances from the qualifiers' section, which was confirmed by the results of the afternoon final. The top 6 or 7 bands are light-years ahead of the rest of the field. So in hindsite, hats off to SFU, FMM, SLOT and Strathclyde Police - especially Strathclyde whose performance under the dark cloud of departmental politics was even more rewarding.... next year is only 51 weeks away...I am booked already.