A Spring Test for Summer Pipe Band Success

March 23, 2014 on 4:19 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Tips | No Comments

From my experience there are three things that mark a band in the off-season; three things that are markers of excellence and predictors of a good season ahead. Three simple words usually tell the tale:
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The Australian Ladies

February 17, 2014 on 7:40 pm by Michael Grey | In Delightful Data of the Day, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Stories | Comments Off

Here’s a neat old picture: a postcard from 1926. Here we have “The Australian Ladies”. The inspiration for William Fergusson’s great pipe tune.
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Sheepskin Bagpipe Bags

January 31, 2014 on 8:35 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts | Comments Off

Firm under the arm.
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Bagpipes in a Canoe: Aspiration Number 27 … Check

September 29, 2013 on 6:30 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Photographs, Pipe Bands, Solo Piping, Stories, Tips | 2 Comments

Back in January I wrote about Sir George Simpson, the Dingwall-born Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. As part of his 18th century trading adventures in the Canadian wilderness he’d travel with an entourage of honking big canoes and always – apparently – with a piper. Sir George’s piper always played in the big canoe – white water rapids notwithstanding - and for years, knowing this small fact, the piping-in-a-canoe thing has intrigued me.
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The Medley: That’s Entertainment

July 15, 2013 on 7:10 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Tips, Whinges | 3 Comments

A funny thing happened at work the other day, among the real world of work-a-day people, I came across a true fan of the GHB – the Great Highland Bagpipe. Had my employer been a bagpipey teaching sort of place you wouldn’t be surprised – nor would I. But I work in a *gulp* bank; not the usual employer of bagpipe-loving types – or so has been my experience.
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Overheard: Judges Losing Cred

June 20, 2013 on 6:45 pm by Michael Grey | In Overheard, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Tips | Comments Off

Here’s something: an abridged version of something I overheard in the Cobourg, Ontario games beer tent last weekend (just after Boghall & Bathgate had played their entertaining victory sets). I assume the man talking played in a competing band that day. My impression was he was more bundt than cake. He said:
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A Canary in a Coal Mine

March 17, 2013 on 5:46 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Solo Piping, Stories | 2 Comments

Anyone who knows me knows my parents are real collectors, especially of interesting old things. My dad ["William Grey" the hornpipe] in particular has an eye that is drawn to the old and quirky – like so many of our best piping judges. And usually his “quirky” finds translate to rarities and bargains galore.
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Suck In and Buckle Up

February 23, 2013 on 6:48 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands, Tips, Whinges | Comments Off

I was talking to a friend the other day about flying. He’s one of those people who flies a lot. Not because he has scads of spare cash to holiday, rather, it’s all about visiting family – far flung family. Circumstances in his life sees most of his clan at the other side of the world. For him, like so many, flying isn’t a luxury, it’s a utility.
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Another Year-end List: My Top 12 in ’12

December 30, 2012 on 3:49 pm by Michael Grey | In News, Pipe Bands, Random Thoughts, Stories | 2 Comments

I thought I might as well jump on the year-end list bandwagon and dream up my own list. Blogs are made for lists and here’s one: my “top 12 in 12”: a random list of twelve of my very personal standout mostly piping memories of 2012 (“random” meaning I might have a different list if I sat down tomorrow and again thought about the year that was).

In no particular order:
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5 Reasons the Other Band is Winning

November 4, 2012 on 7:03 pm by Michael Grey | In Pipe Bands, Tips | Comments Off

In pipe bands there’s winning prizes and then there’s just plain “winning”. In “plain winning” I mean, winning as in feeling really (really) good about the group where you’re a member, feeling an affinity with your team, your pals; win or lose, the band just feels right. In “plain winning” you almost always feel better after having attended a practice rather than not. Like the American basketball legend, Michael Jordan, said, “winning isn’t always about championships”.

Someone once passed along an interesting definition of what makes a good friend and that’s someone who makes you feel better after having had a chin-wag, a visit. That’s a “plain winning” band, you feel better after attending a practice.
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