Volume XVII Number 3 - March 2006

Went and saw the Black Watch on the1st at the Marin Center (and County Jail - I wondered why all the janitors wore orange jumpsuits with targets on the back). A good show hampered by the stage setup - the Welsh Guards band fielded only one snare drummer. The Guards were carrying two women in the ranks - cornet and piccolo; one of them had been borrowed from the Irish Guards for the tour. The Watch had no women, but they did have an officer, Capt. William Colquhoun, in the Pipe Corps - there's a first! The music was mostly old standards with a few new compositions by the P/M, Scott Taylor. One, called Ticonderoga, was named for the OP used by the Watch in Iraq - not the fort in upper NY state. The lads have three weeks more in the US, then back to Scotland for the amalgamation parade in April. It's too bad that this tour couldn't get an arena venue; it would have made for a much more impressive show. All in all, a good tour presentation, and those of you who haven't seen them, do so if you're on the schedule.

Lots of news on the regiments - David Murray outlined the new No. 1 uniform of Government tartan kilt, red/black hosetops, and crucified lion cap badge in the last Piping Times. At least, so the story goes, the pipe bands will remain autonomous and keep their tartans, badges, and gear - until the MoD decides otherwise. I think not, since the pipes and drums are outfitted by the Officers' Mess funds, and each pipe band has its own 'band president' who oversees them in addition to his other duties. There will be an 'amalgamation parade' next month as mentioned above, but will the colours be laid up and new colours issued? A lot of detail remains unsaid.

It's ridiculous that a government which has gone 50 BILLION pounds in the red over the Eurofighter project (like they really need it) has to cut corners on the uniforms, badges, and equipment of five batallions of infantry, which cost only 17 million pounds to run per year - in total! Now their talking about outsourcing the tartan manufacture to India or Pakistan - that'll go over well in the Sergeants' Mess - and who knows what other cost-cutting methods that twerps like Geoff (BUFF) Hoon and his cronies will come up with (BUFF ia an acronym for a B-52 bomber in the US, but the name is perfect for Mr. Hoon). Looks like there are more chicken hawks in Parliament than there are in the US Congress.....

...Speaking of chicken hawks, how about Dick Cheney? I guess he learned to shoot using the 'kill daddy' method....(I couldn't resist).

Here's a photo of Dave Marshall's silver on a 1905 Henderson we recently got for a customer. Original ivory in excellent condition:

It's crunch time again. Next month bagpipe and highland dress prices will go up - how much is anyone's guess. I've already had to raise book and accessory prices some, due to rising costs. I hope the Painful Blow won't be too bad this year, as exchange rates have gotten a little better, but fuel prices have kicked shipping costs way up there. We'll be gentle - I hope!


I purchased one of these new Kangaroo hide bags from Iain at the San Francisco Caledonian Club Highland Games, in Pleasanton, CA on Labor Day Weekend, 2005. Finally, after the Ross Bag I've had on for less than two years began leaking, again. I tied it in.

The Kangaroo Hide is a light grey, very soft, and durable bag. The one I purchased is a Medium, so presumably smaller and larger sizes are available. The 'ROO' bag was pre-punched for the drone and blowstick stocks, the seam is presealed, and it comes with a moderate swan neck. All-in-all a good looking, and good feeling bag.

I found the hide extremely tough when trying to push the drone stocks up through the pre-punched holes, and slightly elastic. Not elastic enough though to get the stocks up and seated, so I made three small 1/8 inch snips into the pre-punched holes and successfully got the stocks seated properly. I used strong waxed cord to tie in the drone and blowstick stocks, but I used one of the rubber gaskets and ring clamps from the Ross bag to tie in the chanter stock. I think the rubber gaskets and ring clamps could be used to successfuly tie in the drone and blowstick stocks on the 'ROO' bag as well, as the hide is slightly elastic. After the tie in, I found the bag without seasoning to be airtight; very nice.

When playing the pipes with the 'ROO' bag tied in, there was no discomfort, or strangeness. I found the slight swan neck better as this tends to keep the hands up, out and away, but not at the extreme. This allows better finger control, and less fatigue as you don't feel you are reaching down, or up, up, and away. The slight elasticity took only a moment to adjust to. Some attention though might be required by some pipers to get good cut-offs at the end of tunes, particularly if playing in bands. There are devices that can be inserted into the drone stocks to facilitate this. I don't care for the devices as they tend to interfere with airflow, and therefore slightly diminish drone tone.

It has been about 6 years since I've played a hide bag, having gone through two Ross bags in that time period. I forgot how pleasant a hide bag feels in comparison to the synthetic fabric bags. Also, I believe there is a 'boost' in tone from the hide bag over the synthetic fabric bags. This has long been the claim of some pipers playing sheepskin bags, and I now give that claim some merit noticing that same 'boost' from my new 'ROO' bag.

I'm very satisfied with the 'ROO' bag, and recommend any piper needing a new bag to consider this option. I think you'll be equally satisfied.

John Eric Partanen, PhD, Professional Piper since 1961

(ed. note - we heard from John recently regarding moisture control in roo bags. We strongly suggest the use of a BeckValve or tube trap in the roo bag)

(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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