Some time ago an idea was hatched, by a few people who had competed during the 1970s, to acknowledge the initiative of the members of the then Scottish Pipe Band Association who introduced a Medley competition as the format for the World Pipe Band Championships in 1970. Prior to this all championships had been conducted within the MSR Format, with one pipe and one drum adjudicator on duty. The new Medley Format required the use of a third adjudicator for the new discipline of ensemble.
And so the 70s Tribute Pipe Band was formed.
We are a group of players who have all had experience playing at Grade 1 level and we will be performing as a group of session musicians to reproduce, as accurately as possible, the prize-winning performances of the 1970s.
The latter part of the 1960s was dominated by the famous Muirhead & Sons Pipe Band. During that era Grade 1 bands were obliged to submit three March, Strathspey & Reel sets. Muirhead & Sons had won the World Champions title on five consecutive occasions form 1965 through to 1969. From our research we learned that several Grade 1 Pipe Majors had expressed the desire to establish an alternative competition format – Medley Selection.
The introduction of Medley and Ensemble allowed Pipe Majors and Lead Drummers to explore different time signatures and rhythms which, until that time, had not been used in pipe band performance. It enabled the development of harmony and counterpoint which has elevated the Medley to a point where it is now almost Orchestral.
Our target initially was to perform during 2020, thus marking 50 years of Medley/Ensemble. Unfortunately, due to Covid, this was not possible.
The 1970s were dominated by four bands – Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia, Edinburgh Police Pipe Band, Strathclyde Police Pipe Band and Dysart and Dundonald with Muirhead and Sons and Red Hackle Whiskey Pipe Bands featuring in the prize list throughout the decade.
We have sought and been granted permission, from bands which were active during the 70s, to reproduce the performances which gained the title ‘World Pipe Band Champion’. The 1970 title was awarded to the Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band under P/M Tom MacAllister jnr. and D/M Alex Duthart.
Pipers and drummers from Ireland, Scotland and Canada, who competed at that time, have been meeting together in rehearsal and the performance will have its first showing at the World Pipe Band Championships on Saturday 13th July 2022 by kind permission of The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association. The performance will be in the Grade 1 arena at 1.40pm.
The 70s Tribute Band performance will be conducted under the leadership of P/M David Caldwell and D/M John Scullion. Both have experience of the playing style of the various competing bands, during the 70s, and have directed the band members in order to adapt their personal playing styles in the pursuit of authentic reproduction of the winning performances.
So there you have it – sit back and listen to a wee bit of history.
Ken Stewart – Tribute Band Secretary.