Sir James McDonald Pipe Band

Welcome to the first post of the bands I have played with! Over the next few weeks, I will be writing a profile of every pipe band I have been a part of since I began playing the bagpipes. The various bands I have played with have been spread across the United States, and have brought me to places from Alaska to Scotland, and everywhere in-between.


 

Sir James McDonald Pipe Band

Sir James McDonald Pipe Band - 2006
Sir James McDonald Pipe Band – 2006

Location: Portland, OR, U.S.A.

Founded: 1993

Tartan: Modern Douglas (2000-2003), Modern MacDonald (2003-2007)

Member: October 2000 – July 2007

Pipe Majors:

  • Evan Ackerman (2000-2001)
  • Patrick Case (2001-2005)
  • MacKenzie Warren (2005-2007)

Drum Sergeants:

  • Ted McKnight (2002-2005)
  • Andrew Wright (2005-2007)

Grade:

  • IV (2000-2006)
  • III (2006-2007)

In October of 2000, three months after I started playing on the pipes, I joined the Oregon Pipers Society Junior Pipe Band, which would be renamed the Sir James McDonald Pipe Band by the beginning of 2001. At the time, the band was led by Pipe Major Evan Ackerman under instructors Jeff Brewer, Robbi Brewer, Mark Tomasetti, Mike Hubbard, and Joseph Hewitt. I played with the band for nearly 8 years, from the fall of 2000 through the summer of 2007.

My brother joined the band as a piper two years after I did, and my sister joined as a tenor drummer in the off-season of 2003-2004. So far, Sir James was the last band we three played together in.

The Sir James McDonald Pipe Band played a major role in my development as a bagpiper, and as a person. During my time in the band I came to view them as family, and I made friends that have lasted well beyond my time there. My bandmates and instructors were a constant through my adolescence, though many of them came and went. I did not get to complete my whole time there because I moved away – I had only a year left!

I attribute my level of skill as a player to my principal instructor Mark, as well as the entire group of SJMPB instructors and senior members. Without their instruction, leadership, and guidance, I would not be the bagpiper I am today. In the band, I had a thorough education on the global bagpiping community.

Notable band trips that I went on included:

  • April 2002: Tartan Day Parade, New York City, New York
  • August 2003: World Pipe Band Championships, Glasgow, Scotland
  • June 2004: Alaska Scottish Highland Games, Anchorage, Alaska
  • August 2006: World Pipe Band Championships, Glasgow, Scotland

The Sir James McDonald Pipe Band won top three awards at nearly every contest it competed in during my time there, with the exception of two of the three trips we went to Scotland for the World Championships. During the mid-2000s, the SJMPB was intensely talented, with a line-up of pipers and drummers who would go on to play with some of the world’s best pipe bands, including the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band and the Prince Charles Pipe Band. Those years were an excellent time to be a part of the band, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.