Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rip City!

Portland - one of my favorite cities - nicknamed Rip City - a term coined by NBA announcer, Bill Schonely during a Trailblazers game against the LA Lakers in the Blazers first season. A three point play by Blazers' player, Jim Barnett, caused the net on the basket to rip and Schonely to yell "Rip City!". He was encouraged to use the term as a rallying cry for the then young team.
That being said, I have just returned from yet another trip to Portland with Travis to a) hang out and visit his family; b) for Travis to attend a band practice and c) for me to teach some lessons. After the longest trip ever via ferry, bus and train, we were welcomed at the home of Joe Hewitt for the weekend.
Joe, a pivotal member of the Portland piping and drumming community, is one of the nicest fellas you will ever meet and a gracious host. He, along with Jeff and Robbi Brewer, nurtured the bagpiping and drumming youth around Oregon and formed the Sir James MacDonald Pipe Band organization that has been running strong for years. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons, Sir James will not be competing this season...although Joe is now a part of another youth movement with the Portland Metro Pipe Band. In the past few years, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the kids that are now part of the Portland Metro Youth drum corps and was able to see them again on this trip. I was astounded at the leaps and bounds of improvement they have made in a short time. A lightbulb must have went off somewhere because these kids have matured rapidly and are having piles of fun! Nice to see. 
The other part of my weekend was spent with the Clan MacLeay drum corps. This band is one of the oldest running pipe bands in North America, mainly being a performance band. This season, they will not be fielding a competition band but the drummers that attended Saturday's session were enthusiastic and willing to apply new tunes and concepts. A really nice group of people - I think it's safe to say that we all enjoyed ourselves! 
Thanks to everyone who made the trip to PDX a great one! 
While I was in Portland and the boys were at home preparing for this weekend - their annual Piobaireachd weekend with Andrew Wright in Washington - Mom was in Vegas....more on that soon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy Easter! (a bit late....)

Easter weekend means one thing in our household: the BC Pipers Annual Gathering. Unfortunately, my work responsibilities are dictated by the weird timing that the fashion industry brings so I had to stay behind (the first time in a while shipment was delayed = the first time in a while I missed the Indoor) while James P., James W. and Ryan headed over to Vancouver.
The Indoor used to be the first gathering of the season that brought people from all over the piping world to B.C. It has dwindled in popularity in the recent years for competitors and bands abroad but they still manage to bring out some big name judges. This year for piping it was Alasdair Gillies and Ken Eller. For drumming, Eric Ward had the honours as well as his wife, Lynn judging the midsection stuff. 
It was a momentous occasion as Ryan was 'coming out of retirement' in order to represent the female side of things in the Professional Piping! Something that will hopefully continue on throughout the games season.
All said and done, James P. came away with a 3rd in the Piobaireachd and 2nd place in the MSR. Job well done! Congrats to Alastair Lee for taking home the Pro aggregate of the day. A full breakdown of all of the results for both Friday and Saturday events can be found on the BC Pipers website
As I was surveying the results on the BCPA site, I found this photo, courtesy of Ken McKenzie.  

P.S. Check out JWT Reedmakers on Facebook now! 

Monday, April 6, 2009

This past Saturday marked the first of the JWT Reedmakers Spring Lecture series. James P. and James W. shared their wisdom with regards to making the bagpipe work effectively and efficiently to the players advantage. We were extremely pleased with the turnout and I think all attendees walked away with not only some important information but a little inspiration as well. We thank everyone who attended, especially those that travelled far distances! The next installment of the series will be announced shortly.
That night was the Piper's Club with the Canadian Scottish Regiment Pipes and Drums as the entertainment. Some of the fellas that travelled from Campbell River to attend the JWT lecture were there which was nice to see! It was a smaller than normal attendance but those that were there thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The May Club is scheduled for May 2, 2009 and James P. will one of the guests. 
Look for the launch of the Vancouver Island Pipers Club website in the near future! 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Trip Photos...

Head on over to to see some photos from our brief trip to New York City via Boston. Not your average holiday pics! There's some from the World Trade Centre site, atop the Empire State Building, the Dakota Apartments (where John Lennon lived...and where Yoko is still), Grand Central Station and the inside of the NY Public Library. We packed a lot in in two short days.