Thursday, March 29, 2012

Down Under for a Spell...

Australia Bound
It has been a while since the last entry here... no excuses, except so much travel this past couple of months and my attention to all details has slipped. The one thing about "piping travel" is the friends, both old and new, that you meet or acquire. Just recently I had the good fortune of visiting Edmonton, Alberta - cool and dry and at elevation. The pitch of the pipe changes - dryness means increased hydration - and ouch, my lips started to chap and worse yet, my chanter reeds dried out. Time to pour water into those Ross canisters and control the top hand pitch! The weekend coincided with St. Patrick's Day, so the Saturday was alive with all those "once a year" patriots of the auld sod - Donegal, Claire, Cork, Galway, Connemara... and everywhere in Erin.... Sunday was actually a relief! Then on to Denver... the "Mile High City", and if I ever thought Edmonton's elevation was a challenge, then Denver's 5200 ft. literally blew me away. Playing at a ceilidh on the Saturday evening on pipes much too demanding for this old feller, just about flattened me...I managed, but not without the occasional choke... a new found respect for all those playing high above sea level. This must be what the long distance athletes all call high altitude training... NOT for us mortals!

This week I leave for Victoria in Australia where I will have the privilege of judging the Australian Pipe Band Championships being staged in Ballarat. To say that I am pumped, is an under statement. Having never been to Australia, I am looking with interest to the events - a very large entry - world class performances in all grades. I have many friends in the area and I look forward to visiting and taking in the sights in the days that follow, with even a little bit of touring into the McLaren Vale wine district. If you haven't noticed my life passions, in order

Piping, Fly Fishing and Red Wine!

 Now what can be the matter with that? Will keep you posted on my return - pics and stories should be plentiful.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

... When Longevity Means .... YOU!

Clyde - the mascot of Triumph Street
I received an email this past week from my very good friend Allan Skalazub from Vancouver:

Greetings, Ken,
Hope you are well and enjoying the holiday season.
I was wondering if you might put a wee mention in your blog
about the 40th anniversary of the Triumph Street Pipe Band.
We made our debut at the BC Pipers Indoor Meet at Easter of 1972.

We are having a get together to commemorate the anniversary on March 17, 2012 in Burnaby, BC.  All friends, supporters and ex-members are welcome and can receive more information by contacting me at

Clan MacFarlane 50th Anniversary - 2007
This really got me thinking!  First of all, I would encourage all those former players and friends from way back in the 70's to plan on attending. The first reunion a few years ago was a huge success. Longevity in pipe bands is a fleeting thing. The fact that most of the former players are still active in the scene says volumes in itself...

I was reminded of the 50th anniversary of my own band, The Clan MacFarlane. We counted the TSPB as our closest friends - not competitors - together, we could entertain, party and play with the best. Heaven knows, the motels in Santa Rosa must still be buzzin'.

Now to my point - bands come and go, but people do not. It is a blessing to reach that stage in life when you can truthfully say "I remember when" or "I was there".

Triumph Street was part of the fabric of the Canadian and World pipe band scene in the 70's. Congratulations to all the former members of that crew headed by Hal Senyk and Willie McErlean ... and in case you don't believe I was there, I remember when I was gifted a T- shirt by Triumph Street:

All the best to the Triumph Street Pipe Band of the 70's

Thanks for the reflections, The Captain

Chapter 3 -  Brasil Caledonia The new generation of players that was under training was still not ready when the band started to compete...