Hot Stove League

Friday night I attended the “new” Toronto Branch’s meeting after our first significant snowfall. There had been a big party in the Officers’ Mess at Denison Armoury so the place was well catered with fresh leftovers.

A small crowd of passionate pipers and drummers came out, just to talk about the art and hear some good playing. Ian K. MacDonald’s hands and pipe were in good form. He plays a mean “Alex MacDonald,” handling the C’s in the tricky fourth part like no one else.

But the other highlight for me was the playing of young Aiden Bowen, who is the son of the famous Tommy “T-Bowen” Bowen, one of piping’s good guys. Aiden’s been on the pipes for only a year, but this kid is going to be something if he keeps at it. He seemed unfazed by performing in front of the likes of MacDonald, George, Campbell, Ed Neigh and other luminaries.

The opportunities for kids to perform just for fun before a potentially intimidating audience are relatively few these days. People older than 40 talk about their memories of playing at the SPA, or the Toronto Branch, or the Eagle Pipers often as turning points in their careers. It makes sense to always let up-and-comers to show their stuff and do their best, especially on a cold winter night when the piping heart could use some warming.

 

Communicating

I’m fortunate to have a job that sometimes allows me to meet and listen to some very interesting and famous people. The past few days I was in Rochester, New York, a city whose hey-day was in the 1900s but which now is still home to still mighty corporations like Kodak and Xerox.

The event I attended had several guest-speakers. The head of worldwide public-relations for General Electric talked about his company’s fascinating communications strategy. But it was Joe Trippi, the former manager of Howard Dean’s famous presidential campaign who really got my interest.

Trippi is a master of blogs and using the Internet to communicate. He understands the power of online communication, and with that he made the Dean campaign the first really to drive the potential of the net to his job’s benefit. (Ultimately, Dean failed because traditional media was more powerful, but that’s changing quickly.)

Listening to Trippi inspired me. His wasn’t just talk and theoretical ramblings, like so many speakers can be, but real-life experience and complete understanding of where online communications is and is heading.

I’m judging a Toronto Branch solo piping event tonight, and Gary Moore, the president of the branch, has asked me to talk after it about the Piper & Drummer and other piping things. I’m fortunate to have been able to hear Joe Trippi and I plan to add some of his thoughts to my talk. It’s all about communicating.