Sunday, 19 April 2009

And now for something COMPLETELY random

I hung out with my friend Mary last night. Mary is one of the most hilarious people ever. It may just be that we are equally insane so we just egg one another on when we hang out, which is far too seldom, in both our opinions, but inevitable due to the fact that on top of school and work, she is in a grade one pipe band (that's the top tier of pipe bands, there are 34 grade one bands in the whole world).

Not a lot of people realize how Scottish British Columbia is. The answer is Very, with a capital V. My university, Simon Fraser University, is so bloody Scottish it hurts. SFU (have fun with the insults, we've heard it all) is on a mountain, and probably the ugliest post-secondary institution in the Western Hemisphere. Our varsity athletics are simply called "The Clan" and the SFU Pipe Band (who are a grade one band) are repeat World Champions. They play at convocation ceremonies and the like.

In 2006, a few people broke off from SFU's pipe band, and revived a band that had competed in the 70s and 80s, but had since become inactive in competition. I'll spare you the politics but the result was the revival of the Triumph Street Pipe Band, who became a Grade One band late in 2007 after winning the Grade Two world title in 2006 and 2007. Suffice to say, they "rock" in a strictly pipe-band sort of way.

Last year, their first competitive season as a grade one band, they placed fourth at the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, Ontario. Funny thing? When Mary first told me about Maxville, she started on a schpeil explaining and I just cut her off; Maxville is about 60 kilometres from Ottawa, where I grew up. I actually competed at Maxville in highland dancing when I was a kid. (The only kind of dance lessons I ever took, so permanently embedded in my psyche that when I started swing dancing, my instructor came over, laid a hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said, "You used to highland dance, didn't you? Stop dancing on the balls of your feet." Still haven't figured out how to do that... and I can still do the highland fling - horribly, mind you, but I can still do it.)

Mary is now the lead tenor drummer in the slightly rebellious TSPB ('rebellious' mostly because the SFU band is irked that the TSPB is so damn good) and her older brother in one of their pipers. The tenor drummers do these things called 'swings' which is the fancy stuff with their drum sticks. Mary's in charge of making those up; she carries her drumsticks with her everywhere and is always coming up with new stuff, it's kind of hilarious to watch her in the coffee shop where she works when it's slow and she's just messing around... :)

The sounds and video quality isn't awesome, but if you like bag pipes at ALL... Mary is down on the bottom right, pretty much in the middle of a spotlight.

*

10 comments:

ali said...

I'd love to watch the video, but it's on a private setting...

Boo.

mer said...

try again!

mer said...

(i found another, public, version of the video)

lauren said...

I love this post, because I go to college in "Scotland USA" and while we don't give scholarships for athletics, we do give scholarships for piping and highland dancing (I do neither, but I like watching). It also made me miss the Renaissance Festival. I'm such a dork, haha.

Susan said...

Damn, they are good! Tell Mary that she did an awesome job with the swings! I love bagpipe music, I, too am a dork :)
"Scotland, the Brave" always brings tears to my eyes.
Thanks for sharing that video.

Lauren said...

There is a bag-piper who attends the church we went to when I was growing up and he would always play at special services and weddings and such. I grew up thinking everyone's church had a bag-piper, so I felt pretty special when I realized most of my peers (other than those who also went to my church) had never even heard a bag pipe live before.

ali said...

Awesome.

Jessclub7 said...

We had to do highland dancing as part of the curriculum at school. And that was in England.

I went to 3 weddings and a 21st birthday last year which were ceilidhs. Wicked fun when drunk!

Except for strip the willow, which is just dangerous. But funny.

mer said...

my french teacher in high school could play the star wars theme on bag pipes. he used to bring them in during exams and play out in the mall to set the mood... he was hilarious

Val said...

women, nothing dorky at all about bagpipe music - it is some of the most melodious (and haunting) stuff out there...thanks for sharing, Mer, and how cool to always have drumsticks with you - that must be a conversation starter :)