The Drone Tuner’s Daughter (Summer of 2017, Part 1)

Great title, don’t you think?  This post has absolutely nothing to do with a drone tuner, or his/her daughter, but the phrase seems somewhat intriguing, as if it might be the title of a 1950’s horror movie or something.   And I confess, I didn’t think of this myself. In my recent blog post, I included a few photos from Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band‘s practice in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, a few days before the World Pipe Band Championships.  One of the photos was of a fellow who was tuning the band’s drones as they practiced, and a little girl, probably his daughter, who followed him around patiently all afternoon, from piper to piper, sometimes looking up at him (perhaps wondering whether he had the right number on the meter?), sometimes focusing on some candies or something that she had in her hand.  I didn’t really think anything more of it, but a friend made a comment on the photo, and from that comment I borrowed the title for this post.  Just as a refresher, here’s the photo:

As usual, that entire first paragraph was a digression.  A digression, even before my story started!  These little sidetracks are getting worse.   Regardless, back to the beginning of summer, 2017:

The first piping event of the summer was what we here in the Alberta piping circuit refer to as the “Red Deer/Ellerslie” weekend, which this year fell on the weekend of June 17th & 18th.  I had been asked to judge the two full days of solo and band competitions, and really enjoyed myself.  Robyn and I met at the host hotel in Red Deer on the Friday evening before the Red Deer games, and had an enjoyable evening visiting with our friends from the  City of Regina Pipe Band, and later partaking in a scotch tasting event.  Actually, by the time we arrived at the scotch tasting, the organizers and hosts of the event had called it quits for the evening, but had left the open bottles of whisky in the room for the stragglers – of which we were two – to enjoy.  Perhaps not so smart.  We, along with a few other stragglers – judges and competitors – certainly enjoyed the samples though!


All very popular choices.  My personal favourite was the Glendronach.  One of the other piping adjudicators was particularly partial to the Balvenie Double Wood… 


… but what led to the wearing of the hat is a story for a different venue.

Robyn had some success in the solo events, and the  Rocky Mountain Pipe Band from Calgary were winners in the three-band grade 2 contests both days.  It was great to have the City of Regina Pipe Band come out to Alberta to compete in the grade 2 band events at  our games this summer, both for the Red Deer/Ellerslie weekend, and then again on the Labour Day weekend for the Calgary and Canmore games, as the band  celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. 

Because I was working for the weekend, I didn’t have the opportunity to take all that many photos of the competitions over the two days, but here are a few.  

This is Iain MacDonald, Pipe Major of the City of Regina band (he actually took this photo):

Below is Andrew Miller, the drumming judge for the weekend.  Andrew played with the St. Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band from Dublin, Ireland this past summer, and certainly did all Albertans proud with his success.  There are a few photos of him (and the band) at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow this past August  in my recent post called We Are the Music Makers.

And below is the Rocky Mountain Pipe Band from Calgary, competing in the MSR event at the Red Deer Highland Games.  This band went on to win the Grade 2 North American Championships in Maxville, Ontario later in the summer.  Quite a feat!

At the end of June, I was honoured to be asked to play pipes for the retirement dinner of Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Neil Wittmann.  This is me, walking in front of Chief Justice Wittmann, with honoured guest Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, coming up the stairs about four people behind.  NBD.  😀

(And in reality I was much happier than I appear in this photo – just something about trying to navigate stairs while piping!)


And here are the two partners of the firm where I work, Aarbo Fuldauer LLP 

On July 1st, all Canadians celebrated our country’s 150th birthday, and we here in Calgary celebrated in fine fashion.  Robyn and I went to nearby Confederation Park and strolled around, enjoying the festivities, then later in the afternoon went into the downtown core, and then went over to the home of some friends for supper, where all the food was Canada-themed.  Our favourite treat of the day was the chocolate cupcakes, made by our good friend Lynette, a photo of which will show up below.  They were classic!

Robyn spotted a mobile library, and of course had to check it out –


And we were appropriately dressed in red and white for the day.

And we put Canadian tattoos on our arms


Aren’t those cupcakes great??

In mid-July I headed back to Ontario to compete for my second time of the season with the Hamilton Police Pipe Band, at the Cambridge Highland Games.  It was another amazing weekend with the band, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  And we won the grade 3 band competition that day, which was great!  I also judged the grade 1 piobaireachd event in the morning, and enjoyed some very good tunes.

Before I left home for that weekend, Maisey the cat wasn’t all that thrilled to see me packing up my pipe band gear into a suitcase yet again and tried to prevent me from leaving… 


But I did manage to get my rain cape out from under her and made it to Ontario successfully.  And because I had packed the cape, it didn’t rain.

Here are some photos from the competition:

This is John Elliott (Sound Supreme Reeds)  judging the open jig competition, and Andrew Carlisle competing.  Andrew won the event.

This was my judging station for the morning.  What a great location!

Then later in the day, after the band competitions, a great photo of Trish Kirkwood accepting the trophy for the grade 3 band (note the X ring!)


And here’s a fabulous group shot of both the grade 3 band and the grade 5 Hamilton Police Pipe Bands, both winning first in their respective events.  A great result for the organization!

Below is the grade 3 band marching off after the results were announced –

And a cool shot of one of the sections of the massed bands.  Sorry, I don’t know who the photographer was for the below shot – if anyone does know, please tell me so I can give credit where credit’s due.

Pipe Major Trish Kirkwood and her son drummer James Kirkwood – proud moment!

And a few fun selfies


The last trip I took before heading over to Scotland on August 1st was to Fredericton, New Brunswick, for another two days of judging, this time at the New Brunswick Highland Games.  I had a ton of fun catching up with friends from the Maritimes, and enjoyed my social time with the organizers of the games and with the other judges.  We were treated very well, and laughed a lot.  A LOT. 

There were gifts of local delicacies for each of us waiting in our hotel rooms –


And included in the gift basket was this! Yummmm.

There was haggis available at the Highland games …

Beautiful day, beautiful venue!

And a few of the aforementioned friends I had the pleasure of catching up with!

Noon massed bands on the Saturday:


And then at the end of the weekend, four judges ready to fly home, still laughing.


Two days later, I was headed to Scotland, and I’ve already told all of my stories (well, at least the ones that are tell-able!) about that trip. 

What fun it is to be part of this piping scene.  The people we meet, and the places we go…  wait, now all of a sudden I’m mixing Dr. Seuss in with my 1950’s film about the Drone Tuner’s Daughter… sorry about that!

Thanks for reading my stories.  Part 2  of the Summer of 2017 will be along soon, but first I need to think of a title for that post which will (*may*) grab your attention.  Any suggestions? 

Until then, stay tuned, and have good days! 

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