Volume XIII Number 4 - April 2004


...with a vengeance and has the weather been crazy out here on the Left Coast. Heat waves, record temps, and who knows what's next? Frogs?...

Due to other commitments I had to pass on the DRM last week. For an excellent review of the event, see Ron Teague's posting on the Dunsire forums. Highlighting three modern tunes - a first for a major competition - it obviously was quite a recital. We'll be back there next year for sure; the committee has finally gotten a firm date for the future - the first Saturday of May from now on.

...Don't forget to visit us at the Woodland Games on the 24th and 25th, Yolo County Fairgrounds. We'll be in the usual spot, in the building to the left of the main gate...

...The Central California Chowder & Marching Society (unofficial name) had its first meeting in late March and it looks like we're going to give it a go for Monterey, Pleasanton, and Dixon this year. Sets will include some original material (ahem) that will give the judges cause to scratch their heids and say, 'Wha?' Due to the spread-out nature of the group our next practice will probably be at the Woodland games....whoops, update April 3 - it's a no-go due to a lack of drummers, the bane of every pipe band. Sic friat crustulum. SO maybe next year, as Leo Durocher used to say....

IF you're sitting around doing nothing on Saturday, April 10, tune in to for John Dally's 'Celtic Aire' program, and it'll be an 'all piobaireachd' edition we're happy to say. The closing section will feature Black Part's rendition of my 'Lament For My Brother.' It will air at 4 p.m., and include performances by Jim McGillivray, Allan MacDonald, and Andrew Wright as well. A fine program from this web radio station.

WE are most saddened to hear of the passing of William Barrie, last student of John MacDougall Gillies, on the 27th of last month. Composer of several fine piobaireachd and numerous light tunes, he is famous for his 'Ancient Piobaireachd canntaireachd series and probably best known as the composer of 'Andrew MacNeil of Colonsay,' recorded by SFU in their 'Down Under' CD, and 'The Lament for Robert Reid,' played the day he died at the DRM here in San Francisco. Our sympathies go out to his son Jim and family; Bill touched many with his music over a career that spanned over nine decades and three continents.


After several years of waiting we finally have finished off the 'public area' with spiffy new book/display cases which certainly show things off. Note the swords and sporrans in the corner case, and the Marines memorial in the center top. And no, I don't wear the czapska. Too bad there's not enough room for a couple of club chairs. Now what do I do with the other twenty crates of books....?

JUST IN DEPARTMENT: Rob Matheson's V3 Dryer System -

Hi-tech piping just keeps getting higher and higher. Rob Matheson's new drying system is certainly well designed and compact - and HEAVY. Retailing at about $100 these days, it's also more expensive then either Geoff Ross' canister or Gary Gifford's cartridges. The system looks efficient enough - however - there are NO instructions for installation, maintenance, or recharging the crystals. Yes, crystals. These are the same dessicant I've used in the past for protecting artworks, the same ones that go into those disposable diapers, and yes, they DO have a serious drawback: when they become saturated with moisture they go liquid and messy (Yech!), so regular airing of the crystals is a must with this system. In addition there seems to be a considerable amount of back pressure needed to free the valves in the drone hoses, and - there are NO adjustment features for valve pressure, or for removal of the valves - or anything else. It's a 'sealed' system for all intents. The air holes in the back of the bottle (it IS built on a large plastic pill bottle), while in a cute design, are restrictive of airflow, so drone volume is going to be reduced unless you play a gutbuster chanter reed. Combined with the fact that it feels like a curling rock in your pipe bag, and I'm afraid the minuses outweigh the pluses for this product.

Decide for yourself....


On April 18th in Montevideo, Uraguay, South America will be held the first ever South American Bagpipe Band Gathering.  Muy Muy Bueno!  I have some questions: 1)  Will WUSPBA send a representative? 2)  I know there is a band in Mexico City, but are there bands in the other counties of Central America? 3)  If so will they be invited? 4)  Will bands from the WUSPBA be invited?  If so, what's the travel money like?  If there is a contest will it count towards the WUSPBA championship? 5)  Will Jeff Mann invite these bands in Central and South America to join ANAPBA? 6)  Do the bands down South have approved judges, or do they have to hire 'em off the approved WUSPBA list?  7)  Is that Armadillo trying to play that bagpipe or eat it? 8)  If these bands have decent drummers can we sneak 'em across the border to play with some of our bands?  Are Samba rythms permitted?  What about Tangos?  Finns (and Partanen IS a Finnish name) love Tangos!  

Actually all kidding aside, I hope this gathering is a tremendous success.  Bagpipes, and bagpipe bands are truly an Intercontinental phenomenon.  But who'll be the first to start a band in Shanghai?  Can you imagine a Chinese Pipe Band Association?  D'OH!   Black Part


until next month....