Thursday, September 14, 2000

Piping's peak: Cincinnati players open for Black Watch

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes & Drums, a staple at regional parades and a recent award winner at the North American Bagpipe Championship in Canada, will appear at Firstar Center Oct. 20 as opening act for the world's most famous bagpipe troupe, Black Watch.

        CCP&D will offer a taste of their style Saturday at a fund-raiser at Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church. Drum major Robert Reid, of Hyde Park, took time out to chat about the band:

  What: “Summer Pipers, Some R' Not” concert by the Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes & Drums, Cincinnati Highland Dancers, Knocknagael.
  When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
  Where: Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church, 5950 Montgomery Road.
  Tickets: $6.
  Information: 367-7005, online at, e-mail

        Question: Opening for Black Watch is a very big deal, isn't it?

        Answer: Oh yes.

        Q: How long has the Caledonian been around?

        A: We were originally formed in 1912. We wear the MacKenzie tartan (taken from the Seaforth Highlanders regiment in which many troupe members served during World War I).

        Q: How long have bagpipes been around?

        A: Since the beginning of military piping, really.

        Q: Which is when?

        A: We believe the Romans used them to scare their opponents. Scots were the one group the Romans couldn't overcome; that's why they built Hadrian's Wall. Actually pipes have been used in every recorded conflict in history since then. They were at the Alamo.

        Q: So the Scots took bagpipes from the Romans, not the other way around?

        A: That's right. If you look into almost every nationality, they have some type of pipes they use. The Scots use the Highland pipe.

        Q: Do your members play any other types?

        A: We have a few who use uilleann pipes, the Irish pipes. Actually uilleann was the type they used in Braveheart. It has more of a range of sound, more of a sweet sound.

        Q: How many members in the Caledonian?

        A: Around 50 total, including 30 support people.

        Q: How often do you perform?

        A: Quite regularly. Different seasons you play more, but usually a couple of times a month. We play all the Cincinnati events, a lot of parades. We play a lot for the Cincinnati Caledonian Society, the oldest Scottish society in the United States.

        Q: What's your favorite gig?

        A: We always like St. Andrew's Ball in November that the Cincinnati Caledonian Society puts on. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland. We perform, the Cincinnati Highland Dancers usually perform.

        Q: What else is on the horizon?

        A: Another big event coming up is Celtic Festival (Sept. 30-Oct. 1) at Coney Island. That's nice, it's very Celtic. It brings in a lot of different types — Irish, Welsh, we've even had some Polynesian and French bands come on. Anyone who has a twist on the Celtic thing.

        Celtic is equivalent to country, to “hillbilly” music. Actually, the hillbilly is named after the Scots king, William of Orange. A lot of the Appalachian stuff is very Scottish and Celtic in nature; . . . square dancing is a lot like Scottish country dancing.

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