Volume XVII Number 1 - January 2006


So Christmas and New Year's have both come and gone and we're still here. Spent a really nice week in SB with family, good to have some un-stressed time with my cousin John P. Sherwood from Norfolk, Va., and he was really glad not to be on his boat for Xmas!

Black Part has re-installed himself in Bakersfield and will have no fixed address until the spring thaw, when he'll be able to sell his prairie castle in Wyoming and purchase a suitable domicile in the Bakersfield area. Until then, I will pass messages to him.

Just heard of the shocking demise of Wilkinson Sword - I'm surprised there wasn't more circulated on this when it happened in September. Looks like British Army officers will have to have their swords made in India, fer cripes sake! After two hundred-plus years this is a sad commentary on the state of both British commerce and their military overall. I've seen the website for Sussex Swords, who refurbish swords for re-use; I imagine their work will be at a premium since the end of the Wilkinson era. A hundred years ago there were several fine sword cutlers in Britain - now there are none. And so it goes...Also it seems that 'Pettigrew Bagpipes' is no more, and has become 'MacLachlan Bagpipes' under new owners. Good luck to them.

One of the nasty side effects of New Years' (other than a hangover - missed that one this year!) is the inevitable rise in prices. A little here, a little there, with the big blow in we start with new price points for Wygent reeds. He's held steady prices for the last several years, so it's not surprising that Mk I reeds will now be $79.95, Mk II's $119.95, and Duatones will now sell at $149.95. This is pretty much in keeping with Canadian and Australian products; we'll have more updates as they come in - Sorry!

Here are pix of the final assembly of the last dirk we've done. Sorry it took so long to get it back from the engraver, Carl! At least there are a FEW (and I do mean FEW) dirk makers like ourselves around....

The engraving is of course by David Marshall Silverworks; he and I will be doing more joint projects this year. This is a classic blade with my 'modernistic' handle in ebony, mounted in sterling with a 14k shield on the locket. The engraving includes a myrtle wreath on the pommel cap, which has a three-strand interlace on the collar; the Campbell war cry 'CRUACHAN' engraved on the blade with an interlace pattern; another interlace on the locket with the shield shewing the Clan Campbell Association device; and the chape with the same design as on the blade. Those of you who are interested in the price of this baby can email me....

There was a grand turnout at Gordon Duncan's funeral last month - a fitting tribute to this late great piper. Piping Times had a good, if unfinished(oops) article; I'm sure there will be a proper obit in the next issue. Why he died the way he did with be a subject of discussion for many a year to come; Gordon's untimely and tragic death has shocked the whole piping community. Once again, our hearfelt sympathies go out to his family.


Well the propsed changes are up for the AGM. Here's my recommendations:

Proposed By-Law changes:

1. This is OK, but remember not eveyone has a computer, and electronic postings are no substitiute for the "real thing". Vote YES, so long as the changes are sent out by mail as they were this time, or published in words and music.

2. Vote YES on this one as I think the intent here is to improve service and communication for both our member bands and solo members.

3. Vote NO on this one. The Executive Secretary at any time, past, present, or future could have an assitiant to take care of the sanctioning matters. The Executive Secretary should have the final responsibility for these matters along with the other dutiies already outlined in our current by-laws. Again, Vote NO on this one.

4. Finally! Does this mean, if this proposal is adopted, that elected officials of the WUSPBA can be removed for not conforming to our by-laws, contest rules, and code of conduct? If so, vote YES on this one.

5. This one seems appropriate. Vote YES on this one.

Proposed Contest Rule changes:

1. Not a good idea, though the intent is. What if a small contest get 23 entries for Grade IV Slow Aire? Inder this proposed change, there would have to be two leets, one with 12 contestants, and the other with 11. Also now there needs to be three judges, one for each leet, and one for the finals. So where a small contest could handle the 23 contestants in one leet, with one judge, we increase the costs for the small contest X 3 for the judges, and also increase the amount of time required for the contest. And do we have enough local judges anyway? NOT YET! This proppsed change would be better if the words "highly recommended" were substituted for "mandatory". That would be in keeping of the intent, but not hurt our smaller contest sponsors. If someone would get in an ammendment at the AGM for the wording "highly recommended" rather than "mandatory" this would get a YES vote recommendation from 'Ol Black Part. But without the amendment, vot NO.

2. Vote YES on the second contest rule change. Lets encourage more drumming contests.

3. Vote YES on proposed rule change three. Grade III, II, and I bands should have one or more tenor drummers. I'd really like to see the requirement for tenor drummers at two, but one is OK.

4. I think the old language was adequate, but I can't really find fault with the new language. I'll not make a recommendation on this proposed change.

5. Well, changing the solo grading sheets is a suggestion coming out of ANAPBA. Some ideas out of ANAPBA are good, others not so good. We've had contests with numerical scores forever. Why change? Because someone at ANAPBA thinks its a good idea? Poppycock!! Anyway, as a judge, I'd prefer the numerical rating score sheets as they're faster, and the numerical score seems to say it all without lengthly dissertations on the score sheets and/or lengthly discussions after the contests. Its pretty simple the way things are now. Lets keep it simple rather than making things more complicated. Vote NO on this one.

6. Vote NO on this. Lets take a for instance: Grade IV band has a QMM of Scotland the Brave, Bonnie Gallowy, Green Hills of Tyrol, and When the Battle is Over. Same band has a TLM of Scotland the Brave, Bonnie Galloway, Skey Boat Song, Green Hills of Tyrol, and When the Battle is Over. Are these the same sets? Yes and no. The same set as the same tunes are played in both, but different by one tune for the TLM. And anyway, does it really matter that much so long as the band can participate in both contests? And shouldn't we as an association be encouraging as much participation as possible by our member bands. It is really the pipe major's and the band's responsibility to perform the music they are capable of. Yes, we'd like to see two completely different sets from the Grade IV bands, but not if limits a Grade IV band from participating in a contest.

7. Please define what an ANAPBA-AFFILIATED ASSOCIATION is! And affiliations can change over time. Wasn't it not that long ago that the WUSPBA claimed to be affiliated with the RSPBA and really wasn't? And can we as an association require membership in any other association beyond our jurisdiction? This one is a really DUMB proposal when you think about it. And enforcement is really a problem. What are we going to do? Call some other state, country or foreign association to determine if a competitor is a member or not? Who is going to do this? And who cares anyway? If they want to come to a contest to compete, let them, he, or she compete. We're NOT a membership enforcement agency for some other association. We need to take heed of the advice often given: Shut up and play! Vote NO on this proposal.

Well, the above are just my thoughts and recommendations. Agree or not. But get to the AGM and VOTE. I'll see you all there. I'll pay my dues at the AGM. I'll contribute additional thoughts and get boo'd and shouted at, but that's what goes on at the AGM. I'll also run for the office of President - AGAIN, because I CARE, and I believe our association can do better. Much Better!

Ol' Black Part AKA John Eric Partanen, Ph.D WUSPBA member # 0193PP

(The management of Cuillinn Craft takes NO responsibility for any editorial statements made by John Eric Partanen PhD. Any and all comments should be directed to BLACK PART)


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