Volume XV Number 5 - May 2005


Sorry about not getting a column up last month - an abbreviated April entry is now viewable; just go to APRIL if you want to see it.

Woodland was surprising in many ways - the weather was extremely cooperative, and we actually SOLD something! After last year's fiasco I went with trepidation, but this year turned out quite well. Angus and Maureen showed up wearing 'Armoured and Dangerous' T-shirts that ALMOST got a laugh from me, but that was because I'd spent the whole morning loading a trailer on my $1500 trailer hitch (yikes!) but now I can go to games just about anywhere...we'll see.

The 14th Dan Reid Memorial came off without a hitch on April 16th, with Willie McCallum once again taking the honours in the Masters competition, and Jori Chisholm garnering his first victory in the Cameron-Gillies comp. Full details can be seen at with photos from Mark Frost.

NEW ITEMS DEPARTMENT: The Marine belt sets are finally HERE. Here are pix of the new Officer's crossbelt and the Enlisted waist belt buckle:

Black Part Speaks:

Last Saturday, April 23rd, I made it down to the Fort Collins Indoor Contests. They're actually in Longmont. This was a very well run series of contests, and I applaud the sponsors. Good Job! There were quite a few solo competitors in all the piping and drumming events EXCEPT for the Professional Piping. I was the only Professional to show. I was told one event only, so I picked Piobaireachd. And I played fairly well for Ken Eller, though Ken did suggest I change some of my interpretations of the tune, Ken's comment on my pipe was, "Excellent Bagpipe." Thanks Ken. Also judging piping was Anne Gray. Always a pleasure to see and chat with Ann.

The Grade IV medley contest was won by High Desert. Second was Islse of Mull, and third was the City of Denver. The Grade III medley contest was won by Colorado Skye. Playing up under the new WUSPBA rule was High Desert in second. Third was Fort Collins.

I was most impressed by both performances turned in by High Desert. They had only 7 pipers, but their tone filled the room. They were playing some of new Naill Chanters that Terry Lee and Jack Lee have helped design. But alas, most of the top hand on these chanters was heavily taped, much like the 90's vintage Naill I play. Their chanters were synthetic, but delivered great tone, and one has to wonder how much better it might be with wood. (Always better with wood). They had Megarity-Ross reeds in. There were some rough spots in tune transitions, but both sets, were well played. The bass drum needed some muffling as it did seem a bit on the loud side. Nice job though from this
band, and I hope to hear more from them in the future.

I also thought that the performance turned in by Centennial was very good. Nice tone, and aggresive tempos. Perhaps the "gimmicks" in the settings were a bit to much for the conservative judges. Tone it down a little Holmes, and I think you'll do fine.

Fort Collins disappointed me. I took in their "Journey to Skye" Concert earlier this year and was very pleased, but for some slight tone issues. Tone though plagued them at this contest. Not solid at all; thin and "squeaky" on the upper hand, with a lot "chirps", and drones drifting. There seemed to be more than half of the pipe section struggling to keep their pipes even going through the set. Heavy reeds, poorly set can be a recipe for tone disaster. The Drum corps of this band though was rock solid; terrific!

I thought Colorado Skye's performance was well done. Tone was good and steady, but also slightly thin. There were no major problems. The drum corps was led by my old pal, Drew McPheeters, who seems more focused on drumming and who's corps also was rock solid. Overall ensemble from this band was excellent.

So much for the good news - now for:

Avast there ya skirlin' swaps! Who be the pirate(s) hear anyhow? Long I've had the disagreement with the WUSPBA 'bout solo competitors not havin' the right tae vote less'n they sails into the meetin' at Las Wages in February, the same weeken' as the Super Bowl. But now it seems that ya could be a band in good standin' with the WUSPBA, and pays yer dues and all, and still not have a vote! (Must be 'cause ya don't agree with everthing the Executive Committee want's ya tae, and besides, if'n your a Grade I Band, ya must tae cheated sometimes along the way tae git thar, 'causin the bands from which the Executive Committee are made up of these days ain't Grade I, and never will git there either!) And so's ya had 'nough of these "maroons" a cheatin' ya, and up's anchor to sail for calmer and fairer seas, and wha' happens? Ya git "threatened" by the President of the WUSPBA, with the whole crew on the Executive Committee backin' 'im up! I feels fer ya Scott, (and fer the rest of the fine artists in yer band), but I'd a told these "true pirates" a thing or two, not the least of which was to go blow it up thar arses! In all seriousness, this "crisis", along with the Drew "identity" bull, confirms everything I've been saying for years, (well, at least since 1999), about the leadership of the WUSPBA. They are a bunch of self-serving, power mad, autocrats we, (most of the general membership, be they bands or solo members), can't seem to get rid of!

But wait, it gets better. Now we have the Southern Branch, havin' a last minute, and nearly "secret" meetin' to elect officers? Who in the Southern Branch really knew in advance of this meeting and election? Who in the Southern Branch knew what offiecs were up for election? If'n ya knew, fer how long didya know? Was the meeting date an' place publicized? If so how far in advance? This was perhaps an "illegal" election, 'causin' members, all in good
standin' within the Southern Branch were not properly notified of whilch offices were up for election and when the elections at the meeting were to take place in advance. So's, it could be rightfully claimed that the new officers "stole" the election, and that the old officers acted illegally and conspired, yes, CONSPIRED, to maintain a status quo of power and control.

So what's with the Southern Branch? Is a cult or what? Cults are known for this type of activity. And the new leader of this cult,...well....

And tha's not all! Now we have the old 5 minute rule reenforced at contests. Some years ago, at the AGM of WUSPBA, the few bands and soloists, (well not really, as soloists can't vote on band issues), voted to no longer enforce the 5 minute rule. REALLY, check the minutes, I know this was so, as I happened to be at the meeting and thought it a good idea. Now last year, or maybe the year before, I saw a WUSPBA official timing the medley contests at the Woodland Games. I asked this official about this, and his response was that the then President of the WUSPBA had asked him to time the medley sets. So we had a past President arbitrarily decide that the 5 minute rule needed to be reenforced, AGAINST the vote of the membership at the AGM! This year, and again AGAINST the vote of the membership at the AGM, the rule was enforced against a WUSPBA band in good standing at the Woodland Contest. Now I'll tell ya what I told the official when I asked 'bout this earlier, "Ya better put that watch away before somebody makes ya eat it!" He didn't put the watch away, but as he continued to time the medley events, he was a lot less obvious about it. So I have some questions: Were bands notified in advance that the old 5 minute rule would be reenforced? If so, how far in advance of the Woodland Contests? Was the matter of reenforcement of the 5 minute rule ever discussed at this year's AGM? If not, why not? (Oh, Sorry! I can answer that one: 'causin' the past voted come up, an' the "maroons" runnin' the association woulda' been told they couldn't do it!) Was there an official clock? If so where was it? Were the times from this here "official " clock verified? By which persons? Were they elected WUSPBA officials? Were they appointed WUSPBA officials? If so, for the previous two questions, which bands in advance knew? The band that was disqualified at Woodland was ILLEGALLY disqualified, and this illegal disqualification has been upheld by that band of swabs known as the Executive Committee of the WUSPBA!

So, again, who are the pirates here anyway? 'Ol Black Part? NO WAY! The members of the Executive Commitee? Ya got it! What we have is leadership that is not looking to what is really in the interest of Piping, Drumming, Drum Majoring, and Pipe Bands, but is interested in exercising power and control to maintain their own self interests. Why else would ya not let your solo members vote for officers, and on issues that effect their solo contests? Why else would ya not let a band, or bands, in good standing within the association vote on any issues? Why else would ya allow officers within your association to conspire to hold an illegal election of officers? And why else would ya change the rules, against a vote taken at an AGM to renforce a rule thrown out years ago without prior notice to the member bands who have entrusted ya with the power ya have? Only to exercise yer power; to let 'em no who's the boss! Tae hold yer members in fear like an 'ol pirate cap'n from the past, with your cohorts at yer side! Take heed, as'in in the past, pirate cap'ns and thier mates could be voted out, and when this happened, ya'd be marrooned on a deserted island wi' only a small ration o rum, and a one shot pistol. (The rum was tae gie ya courage to use the pistol! And you're supposed to aim the pistol at yer head, not yer foot!)

Yes, it seems the "true pirates" here are our own members of the Executive Committee, not 'ol Black Part at all. So's here's the new theme song fer the WUSPBA:

Tae the Mast nail our flag, 'tis dark as the grave'
Fer the death which it bears as it sweeps on the wave;
Let our decks clear fer action, let our guns be prepared;
Be the boardin' axe sharpened, and the cutlass be bared.

Set the canisters ready, and then bring 'em tae me;
Fer the last 'o me duties; the powder room key.
It'll ne'er be lowered, the black flag we bear;
If the sea be denied us, we shall sweep through the air!

Pipe and Drum settings fer this little "ditty" are encouraged. Hornpipe...It must be a Hornpipe!

So's if'n ya had 'nough of this scurvey crew; lay yer charts on the table, plot yer course to Las Wages fer February, (mind the storms, they can be fierce), and VOTE in a new Cap'n and crew at the next AGM. 'Ol Black Part'l happily "maroon" the old crew o' De'ils on the first deserted isle I kin find, and then we'll plot a course back to fairness, sanity, and calmer seas where we can all get back to what we do best, playing our pipes and drums to the best of our abilities secure in the knowledge nobody'l be schemin' tae screw our backs. Vote for 'Ol Black Part for President of the WUSPBA in February 2006.

Ol' Black Part AKA John Eric Partanen, PhD WUSPBA member number 0193PP, (In good standin' until the present band o pirates figures a way to maroon me befoe I maroon them! Aharrgh!)

(The management takes NO responsibility for the above. Any and all comments should be directed to BLACK PART )


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