by Megan Canning | May 28, 2015
This Saturday, 30 May, will mark the official start of the 2015 competition season for the Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, as the band prepares to compete at the British Pipe Band Championships in Bathgate, Scotland.
This season is the third under the leadership of Pipe Major Ryan Canning, and the 29th under Drum Major Jim Kilpatrick MBE. Last year, the band ended the 2014 season on a high, gaining 5th place overall at the World Pipe Band Championships, and winning the award for World Champion Drum Corps for the 29th time in the band’s history. The band’s marked progression in 2014 led the popular online magazine Pipes|Drums to vote Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia as “Pipe Band of the Year”, to recognise Pipe Major Ryan Canning as “Piper of the Year”, and Drum Major Kilpatrick MBE as “Drummer of the Year”, in its annual New Year’s Honours series. Commentary detailing the band’s progression says of the band: “considering that this band was on the brink of extinction only a few years ago, for Shotts & Dykehead to return this year to being consistent prize-list-winners at major championships, and be seen as a realistic contender to win are astounding feats”, and that the leadership “are recreating a Shotts era for the ages”. Of Pipe Major Ryan Canning: “Canning has led this historic band back from history’s abyss to top-six prizewinning at RSPBA majors”, and “whoever made the decision to recruit Canning in 2012 to take over Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia should be given a medal”. And lastly of veteran Drum Major Jim Kilpatrick: “He led the Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia corps to a World Drumming Championship in 2014 and was one point from taking the RSPBA Champion of Champions prize. In case people haven’t noticed, Kilpatrick often starts a season with new players, yet manages to produce world-class sections year after year.”
While 2014 was an important step in the band’s determined rebuilding mission, it’s a truism that the off-season is often what matters most, as this is where the hard work is put in to shape the following summer. And this is very much true of the commitment shown by members of Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia- from the players, to the leadership, to the committee and the friends, family and volunteers- who have all been working tirelessly during the off-season to make other important progressions happen, too.
This past off season, the band launched the first ever Shotts and Dykehead Junior Piping and Drumming Championships last November. Held at Calderhead High School in the heart of the Shotts community, the event aimed to support youth piping and drumming across North Lanarkshire and beyond, and hundreds of young pipers and drummers from across Scotland competed, many for the first time, as an important step in their own young musical careers. The event was hosted with the partnership and support of North Lanarkshire Council, and was largely supported by volunteers from the Shotts band and extended “Shotts family”, and was a fantastic opportunity to give back to the local community.
The band’s committee was also working tirelessly to secure a sponsorship deal, and was absolutely thrilled when Asset Guardian Solutions Limited, one of the world’s leading industrial software companies, agreed to support the band. This kind of support is incredibly important opportunity for the band, and Pipe Major Ryan Canning said of the sponsorship, “It’s such an enormous job to run a band of this size, and having the support of Sam Mackay, our own Ewan McAllister, and the Asset Guardian Solutions team will go a long way towards helping us continue in our development.” Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia unveiled the new sponsor’s logo on our bass drum and bag covers at our recent concert in Aberdeen, and look forward to proudly showcasing our sponsors in competition on Saturday.
The band had also been busy preparing for its first official concert under the joint leadership of Ryan and Jim, outlined in a forthcoming news story with photographs and details of the event. The concert, entitled Reinvented and hosted in Aberdeen by Bucksburn and District on 2 May, took an enormous amount of work for both the pipers and drummers of the band who had to learn a host of new music, and especially for Ryan and Jim in their selecting, composing and arranging of tunes and scores. Those who have performed in a concert such as this understands the commitment and dedication it takes to add so much music to the band’s repertoire, and it meant that for most members, more work had gone into this past off season, than during any other under the current leadership team.
And while band members were busy working on band commitments, many also had solo achievements. Many have been involved in judging, teaching and running workshops, performing in Tattoos from Switzerland to Taiwan, while others have been busy in competition. Piper Andrew Bova has been hard at work, winning the Open Piobaireachd and 4th in the MSR at the Kingdom Thistle, and more recently, 1st in C Piobaireachd at Blair Atholl. Andrew Hall was also present at Blair Atholl, winning 5th in the B Piobaireachd.
Pipe Sergeant Glenn Brown won 5th in the Piobaireachd at the Metro Cup in New York; 4th in the Piobaireachd and 2nd in the Hornpipe/Jig at the Donald MacLeod Memorial in Stornoway; and 4th at Bratach Gorm in London. Sarah Muir also did well in London, winning the Terry Maginn Memorial Trophy Overall A Grade Prize- predicated on her win of the Donald Forbes Medal for A Grade Hornpipe/Jig, 2nd in the A Grade MSR, and 4th in B Grade Piobaireachd. She finished 2nd in the B Piobaireachd at the Duncan Johnstone Memorial. Shotts drummers also did well, with Blair Brown taking the lead after his 3rd place finish in the adult final at the World Solo Drumming Championships and his North American Gold Medal for snare at Winter Storm, with brother Graham Brown finishing 4th in the same event. David Henderson and Andrew Lawson were also qualifiers at the World Solo Drumming, and we cannot forget our own Jim Kilpatrick, who participated in a bit of fun at the “Livi InnVitational” in Livingstone, winning the crowd vote freestyle solo drumming.
In their personal lives, the band would also like to congratulate three band members on their marriages: drummer David Ross and his new wife Ruth, drummer David Henderson and his new wife Catriona, and piper David Smith to his new wife Emma. And while it is a sad goodbye, the band would also like to congratulate drummer Jake Jorgenson on his appointment during the off season as Leading Drummer of ScottishPower Pipe Band. Jake will be missed, but we wish him all the success in his future venture.
So clearly the band has been busy, but the next chapter is just around the corner. As the band prepares to take to the grass for the first time in 2015 on Saturday, we’re excited to see how the work put in over this busy off season plays out in the field in the months to come.