Volume XIV Number 2 - August 2004


Thanks to Geoff Hoon, Minister of Defence, the five active Scottish Regiments will be reduced to ONE regiment of four batallions, with one regiment disappearing entirely. Three hundred seventy years of tradition and excellence thrown out the window because some Effing Whitehall bean counters need to cut some expenses so they can take long vacs in Marbella. In 1968 the Argylls were saved by a National Petition. Time to do it again and give the Scottish Parliament power to raise and maintain its own establishment.

Yes we'll be chugging intp Pleasanton (just over the hill from here) on the 3rd of September for the annual cookout and necktie party...Look for us in The Old Same Place at the Pleasanton Games - in the 'Small Commercial Hall' near the grandstand, first space in from the rollup door. We'll have Jamie Cavin, Ken Westermann, and possibly The Mystery Woman there to help out with the madness and overpowering heat. Stop by, have a chat, buy a few things, and make our day....

GOOD NEWS DEPARTMENT: the 'Funeral' shirts are back in stock, all sizes from medium to 3X. We'll have plenty at Pleasanton to be sure. No new shirts yet at this time.

And now I really am an official Auld Fart - made the Double Nickles last week and spent it on a boat instead of going to Monterey - no contest. Thanks to Cap'n Steve and his First Mate Tera for a great day on the water.

GET WELL DEPT: To old buddy Ron Schutte, laid up in Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara - hang in there, old son; you'll be back chasing divorcees in no time!


Ahrrgh Mateys...By now most all of you know 'Ol Black Part has sailed into Monterey Bay.  Yes, that was the 'Ol Pirate himself that stepped out onto the field both days with the Monterey Bay Pipe Band.  Monterey Bay won both days, setting new standards in Grade IV, (even if the 'Ol Pirate didn't know about the ending refrain in the medley, but he sure made the cut-off!).  Congratulations to the Irish for their second place finishes on both days.  And also congratulations are in for the House of Scotland for a third in the Quick March Medley, and for the Nicholson Pipes and Drums for their third in the Medley.  Well done to all other bands that competed, without you there, there would be no contest.  Thanks to Roddy MacKay and his staff for the hours of hard work required to put on the contests.  


The most recent edition of the WUSPBA newsletter is out, and well worth the wait.  A fine job, thanks to our new editor.  BUT...Words & Music would lead everyone to believe that all's well.  Not So !  Here's Chirps and Thumps to consider.   There will bew no Las Vegas Championship Contest this year.  (THUMP !)  'Ol Black Part said as much at the February AGM.  (CHIRP, CHIRP, CHIRP !)  But nobody really listens to the 'Ol Pirate anyway.  Even if he is right most of the time !  

There was no financial statement handed out at the last AGM.  (THUMP !)  And no audit as required in the WUSPBA bylaws of the financial statement.  (THUMP !)  'Ol Black Part sent in a grievance to get a statement prepared and audited.  (CHIRP. CHIRP, CHIRP !).  Stu Baker told the 'Ol Pirate at Costa Mesa that these things were done. (CHIRP, CHIRP, CHIRP !).  But that's not exactly true.  (THUMP !)  Now if the 'Ol Pirate is wrong here, 'Ol Black Part'll be the first to say it is so.  But, first the WUSPBA'll have to publish the financial statement and results of the audit in Words and Music for all to see. (THUMP !)  

The Treasurer for the past many years of the WUSPBA has resigned.  I had the opportunity to chat with Gloria Cardenas at the Monterey Contests.  Gloria is now the lead drummer of the Monterey Bay Pipe Band, so we're both now in the same band, and we have to behave.  (Especially me 'cause Gloria sticks are kinda pointy and she's behind me back there in the drum section).  Gloria has prioritized some of her committments such as taking care of her aging Mom, and being the lead tip at Monterey Bay.  That sort of left the WUSPBA low on the 'ol totem pole as it were.  Gloria did a fine job as Treasurer of the WUSPBA for many years, and her talents and patience with the association will be missed.  Thanks Gloria, from the 'Ol Pirate hisself!  

Now for all out there, I don't want to disappoint you by my last report that there were no incidents at the Monterey Contest involving the 'Ol Pirate, 'cause there was ONE.  It seems while I was talking to Mike LeBoeuf and Robert Lund of the Irish Band, Jan Richey, Vice-President of the WUSPBA strolls up and asks the 'Ol Pirate if HE had a copy of the WUSPBA Contest Rule Book.  To which the Ol Pirate says, "No !  I had a copy, but I burned it !"  This put Mike and Robert into great rolls of laughter !  Imagine, asking 'Ol Black Part if he had a WUSPBA rule book !     

'Ol Black Part   


I've had a wood edition of the Somers Chanter now for the past several months to give a thorough examination.  Initially, I was impressed with the craftsmanship in the chanter. It is made from dense, well cured blackwood.  There seems to be no tendency to warp or twist after being in out of the box a number of times, and in and out of my pipes a like number of times.  The bore is well polished, and the holes seem well done.  Just very good work with the wood.  

Tone wise this also seems to be a very good chanter.  I've compared it to my Naill, to Kintails, to Gibsons, and MacCallums.  Tone is most similar to the MacCallum,  only just a shade brighter perhaps.  I get the impression of more volumn from the Somers. than I do with the Naill and Kintail, even when changing reeds.  I tried the chanter with several makes of reeds:  Megarity-Ross, (yes I still have a few of those picked by Stevie himself for me), Warnock, (the long blade version), Elliot, Frater, Harris, (this is a new reed for me and not to bad), and Gilmores.  All these reeds seemed to work well in the Somers chanter, again though the tone is most similar, even reed to reed with the MacCallum chanter - but better. 

I've shown the chanter to several other pipers, and pipe majors, with expected mixed results.  Some just looked at it and handed it back with out even giving it a try.  Those that did try it liked it.  Most everyone liked the price:  $275.00 for the wood version, and of course there is a plastic version, for much less.  Pipers looking for a good wood chanter should give the Somers a try.  They'll not be disappointed.  With this chanter being made in Canada, there is not a long wait for delivery, as with some other makes. Bands looking to change chanters should also give the Somers chanter a try.  With costs for plastic from some makers hitting at or above the $200.00 mark, the extra $75 for the Somers wood, with better delivery time is well worth consideration - with band discounts for orders of six or more.

To try the Somers chanter, contact Mr. Sherwood at Cuillinn Craft, or stop on by the booth while you're at Pleasanton.  Bring your favorite make of reed, plop  it in the Somers, and give a blow.  I think you'll be impressed.  

John Eric Partanen, PhD Professional Piper since 1961