Volume XI Number 3 - March 2003


Congrats and Good Luck to Gary Speed on becoming the new editor of WUSPBA's Words and Music - we're sure he'll do better than the previous efforts. We'll even put an ad in the rag - HA! Seriously, we wish him 'best of luck' in what has heretofore been a thankless, complaint-riddled job. Let's hope he gets more co-operation and can 'Beat The Reaper' with this one.

In the Bad News Department, there's quite a little Desert Storm brewing in WUSPBA concerning the Rules and ACP questions brought up at last month's AGM. Seems some people want to be 'grandfathered in' as judges, bypassing the soon-to-be-in-place accreditation program. I recall that a few years ago the EUSPBA offered Alasdair Gillies an 'automatic accreditation,' which he declined, preferring to take the test like everyone else. It IS the only RIGHT THING TO DO. So why can't Left Coast people behave like ladies and gentlemen??? OR is it just that they want the judges' list to be the same closed group as before?

John Weatherston, of R.G. Hardie & Weatherston Ltd, died March 2nd of cancer. He had been in decline for the last year. For better or worse, this will probably be the end of R.G. Hardie, a firm that's been around for over fifty-two years. John was known in the sixties as Pipe Major of the World Chamion 227th Argyll Territorial Pipe Band, and later as PM of the Red Hackle Pipe Band; he came close to winning World titles in two different grades.

In 1950 he joined in partnership with Bob Hardie, and they produced pipes together until Bob's retirement in 1979. At that time John took control of the business, which he managed up to shortly before his death. The loss of the lease at the historic 24 Renfrew Street address was a major blow to the business four years ago; their removal to Bishopbriggs, the area where Peter Henderson had his first shop, was another setback. Time will tell if the firm will survive under new ownership.

On a more positive note, Black Part and I will be locked in a recording studio on the 29th of this month; we hope to have our joint album, tentatively titled Heavy Breathing (or maybe Armed And Dangerous), finished and available at the Woodland Games. The tunes will be almost entirely our own compositions, including John's Lament for Princess Diana, my Lament For My Brother, The Golden Gate, and many others - a total of nine of John's tunes, and eighteen of mine. Operators will be standing by to take your orders....

While we're on the subject of albums, time and again I'm asked, 'What's new in piping albums?' The thing is, the economy SUCKS so don't expect too many new CDs on the market this year - or, probably, next year. Of course, immediately I write this some yutz out there will pipe up with '...hey, our band just made a CD last month....' I'm talking about MAJOR recordings made by MAJOR soloists and bands on REAL labels, not some smalltime independant run of a thousand. (like mine will be - sigh!). The whole recording industry is in a slump, which of course filters down to our piddling level. Yes, it IS piddling. Average piping CD production is about 10K units; often less if privately marketed. So it's going to be a while before you see much more than the World's and a Piping Centre CD out there in the 'just arrived' rack.

The same is unfortunately true of music books; the only new one I've seen is the 'Complete Collection' of Duncan Johnstone's tunes - which is well worth the $24.95. I don't imagine we'll see much in the realm of new pipe music collections until the economy gets a major shot in the ...whatever!

BLACK PART will have a report from the WUSPBA AGM and The Queen Mary Festival later this month.



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