Notes from the NCPB President
The North Coast Pipe Band Organization is a wonderful music performance program. It is the best administrated pipe band program I have ever been in, over my 38 years of pipe band involvement. Without question, the members of the program are among the highest caliber people I have ever met in the pipe band scene, motivated by all the right and honest reasons. Everyone wants what is best for everyone, and each person donates time to better themselves, to support the program's efforts and to help others. I can say that the experiences I have had with the program thus far have been rewarding and I have made many lifelong friends. The North Coast way is about work ethic, the pursuit of excellence, honesty, and about the journey we all take together. It is not about winning or losing. It is not about who might have higher skills than someone else, or who has better attendance. Each member donates what they are able and we are happy to receive each person's individual and unique gifts as they care to share them with us. We'd love to have you share yours with us too.
Registered Bagpipe Instructor
Origin of the Band
The Early Years
The Grade II Era
Continuation with Grade III
The Reorganized Grade IV
Jump to Year:
Origin Of The Band
( 1948 - 1984 )
Founded in 1948 as the Caledonian Pipe Band under the direction of P/M James
Shiel and D/Sgt. Fred Sangster, the band was dedicated to a high standard of
play and competed successfully at many Highland Games from inception. In 1958
under P/M Jack Thompson and in 1959 under P/M Noel
Slagle the band won 1st prize at the Hamilton, Ontario Games.
During the mid '60's - '70's the band did not compete, but performed at regional
festivals and parades and hosted its annual Tartan Ball which, at the time, was
the largest Scottish social event of the year. In 1978 under P/M Bob Sloan the
band re-entered the contest arena and won the Grade
IV contest at the inaugural Ohio Scottish Games. In 1984 under the direction of
P/M John Campbell, the band won the Grade IV Pipers and Pipe Band Society of
Ontario Champion Supreme and the North American Championship.
The Early Years
( 1985 - 1998 )
In 1985 the name was changed to the North Coast Pipe Band as a better reflection
of the region we represented when traveling nationally and internationally.
Under the direction of P/M Doug Ross, the band won many regional, national, and
international championships. Some of those included a 7th place finish in the
Grade 3, 1987 World Pipe Band Championships, Best Overseas Band Grade II, 1989
World Championships; first US Grade II Pipe Band to place at the World Pipe Band
Championships, 1990 (the band finished 6th); West Coast California Champions,
1991, Tour of Ireland in 1992.
In 1996, the band came under the new direction of P/M Barry Conway and P/S
Bentley Wall. It was at this time that the band began an intensive teaching
program. North Coast had immediate success. The band won the 1996 Grade 3 North
American Championships as well as the West Coast
Championships. It was in that same year the band released its first CD, "Pipes Up!". This was the first recording released by any pipe band in this region.
In 1997, the band ventured to the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland
taking a 4th place.
In 1998, the Band won the Canadian Championships as well as
the Pipers and Pipe Band Society Champion Supreme Award for Grade 3 and
performed at the Society's annual ball held in Toronto. In this same year, the
efforts of the band's teaching program were realized when our Grade 4 Band won
the U.S. Open Piping Championship held in Alma, MI.
The Grade II Era
( 1999 - 2004 )
North Coast re-entered Grade 2 placing at both the U.S. Open Piping
Championships as well as placing 5th at the North American Championships in Maxville.
This year the band released its second CD, "The New Crossroads"
The band placed 2nd at many Highland games and placed 4th in Maxville, one place higher than in 1999.
The band captured a 1st and a 2nd place at Alma (out of four bands), a first at Oberlin (out of three bands), and a 3rd at Ft. Erie (out of seven bands). The band went to Maxville, and slipped back two places to 6th. The band returned overseas to play in the Grade II World Championships, performed well and received high marks in the piping scores (8th, 9th) out of 33 bands, for a final overall rank of 13th. The band planned to head overseas again in 2003. Also in 2001, the Band released a minidisc, "The Dirty Laugh"
. This minidisc contains original music by members of the band, and contains the sheet music for the tunes in printable form.
Following the conclusion of the 2001 season, new talent came into the program for the 2002 season. The band elected Adrian Melvin as the new Pipe Major and promoted the second snare to lead snare. New officers were elected and new members joined the band in the pipe, snare and tenor/bass sections of the band. Some members decided that the new program platform wasn't for them and left to pursue other band program options, including long-standing members and administrators Barry Conway and Mark Humphrey. The organization enjoyed a rewarding 2002 season, placing 4th at Maxville out of 18 bands (two places higher than in 2001), and placed 3rd out of 10 bands at Ft. Erie, Chatham and Bethlehem. But, at the end of the season, Adrian Melvin was recruited to take over a program in his own locality (Chicago) and he decided to leave North Coast.
In the post season of 2002, in the wake of the well-liked pipe major's exit from the program, the strong administrative arm of the program rallied to continue the band's long-standing pursuit of excellence. The band elected Bentley Wall, long-time Pipe Sergeant of the band, to take over as Pipe Major for 2003. In addition, a highly experienced lead drummer, Chris Barr (Detroit) was brought into the band to rebuild the drum section at an extremely high level. Following the election of these two primary officers of the band, there was a large influx of high caliber players into both major sections of the band. With new direction and energy, the band enjoyed many successes in 2003.
The band placed first at Alma winning the US Championship, placed first at Ft. Erie, Ontario, winning the Canadian Championship, placed first at Chatham, Ontario, and inched up another two spots from 2002 to place 2nd at the North American Championships in Maxville, Ontario. The band placed 7th out of 35 bands in Glasgow, and placed first at the US Invitational Championship in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Overall, the NCPB placed first in the Champion Supreme points race in the PPBSO, but not being a member of that society was not awarded the Champion Supreme title for 2003. However, the NCPB also finished first in the MWPBA, the society to which we belong, and thus were officially recognized as the Champion Supreme title winners for 2003 in Grade II. Members felt this was possibly the most successful year of the program's history, and energy was high to move up another notch in 2004.
The band went around the sun again with a strengthened mid section with the addition of Mike Cole, Bill Janakos and Dan Griffin, former Grade II World Champions and a strengthened pipe section having high caliber players Ross Speirs and Tom Ogilvy join the ranks. The band also employed the support of Sean McKeown, PS of Grade I Toronto Police, as a pipe section instructor for the first time. In April, another windfall came our way as another local Grade II program folded up, and many of its members asked to join up with us, many of them former members of the band. We welcomed back Barry Conway, Clark Abercrombie, Doug Ross, Jason Beard, Ian Crane, Nathan Zeigler and Anne Hutson(tenor) to the band. In addition to the high caliber pipers joining the ranks, several high power snare drummers joined up in April as well, Al Savage, Richard Baughman (former NCPB), and Glen Neil. It seems that the program never had more talented personnel before. The band split the Alma weekend again with Windsor Police like in 2003, but won at Chatham and won Maxville! The band was very excited about attaining this long sought-after goal. The band had some trouble overseas and did not make it out of the Grade II qualifier. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts with many of our key personnel, the Grade II band decided to pack it in after many years of extremely hard work and dedication by many. The Grade 2 band had its time, and the ride was well worth the investment. Most of the Grade 2 members then left the program to pursue other pipe band avenues. Some joined the Grade 2 Windsor Police and some ultimately ended up playing with the Toronto Police Grade I band and the 78th Fraser Highlanders Grade I band.
Continuation With Grade III
( 2005 - 2007 )
The Grade III student band strengthened over the winter with the influx of a few new members. The band added a registered snare instructor to the ranks for the first time. The year went fairly well, even though encompassing so many newer members was difficult at first.
The Grade III student band lost some members due to the usual reasons of busy lives and changing interests. The band carried on and did its best under the circumstances. Many personally rewarding performances were achieved, although we were a bit understaffed for the grade to be competitive.
The band decided that without enough Grade III seasoned players to be competitive for 2007, that going through the motions again would be frustrating. It was decided to concentrate efforts on our existing educational programs and to divert all resources to that aim, and to take the year off of competition. Student classes began in November 2006, and many young learners began taking instructional classes from our section leaders and support staff in Beginner Bagpipe, Beginner Snare, and Beginner Midsection. It was hoped that there would be enough new students generated by these classes to think about reforming a competition effort in the Fall of 2007, to hit the field again in 2008.
The Reorganized Grade IV
( 2008 - 2011 )
The organization reorganized and fielded a new competition band in Grade IV. Out of the formerly high power Grade 2 band that dissolved in 2005, only a few members remained and worked their way into the new effort, all serving as administrators and/or instructors of the rebuild. (Bentley Wall, Dick Finnigan, Duane Dickson, Lynne Lofton and Erin McCoy). In addition a few members of the Grade 3 band remained involved in this new effort as well (Zach Ault, Colleen Poe). The band competed twice in 2008 having marginal success on the field, but celebrating the culmination of the tremendous effort to field a competition band out of the new group of members. Attitudes were very positive and members worked hard to see where this cycle of the North Coast Pipe Band program would lead in the future.
North Coast returned to the competition field for the second year in Grade IV and demonstrated the wonderful strides that were made by the members over the prior off season. The band won at the Ohio Games, and won twice at the Detroit Games and took a second place at Ligonier Games behind the 2009 Ontario Association circuit champion. The band was very proud of its accomplishments and the hard work of the members over the past two years was obvious. To continue the trend toward higher competition field ability, the band set its sights on going to Glasgow for the World Pipe Band Championships in 2010.
The band decided in the spring of 2010 that we were up to the task of taking on the World Pipe Band Championships. The band started the 2010 competition season with winning both Grade IV contests at the Ohio Games in June with seven first place judge scores out of eight total. A couple of 1st places in Detroit in August and then the band took on the World in Glasgow and received 4th in the Grade 4A finals!
Because of the success overseas, North Coast decided to run a circuit title race in 2011. The band competed and won two separate days in Alma, Michigan, placed first in Chicago, got two first places at the Ohio Games, and finished first in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The title race was hard fought and it came down to the last contest in Wisconsin to determine the overall circuit title winner for the year. Due to winning the MWPBA Champion Supreme title in 2011, the band formally applied for an upgrade to Grade 3 for 2012.
( 2012 - Present )
The band's request for upgrade was granted and the band moved into Grade 3 for 2012. The program also pooled all of its students and new members into a new Grade 4 band. However, due to new local rules dropping march medleys from some of the local contests we attend, the new band had to reposition itself into Grade 5 for the first year where march medley contests are still offered.
The Grade 3 band competed in several venues, including twice in Canada. Even though performance efforts were decent, the band did not fare well with such a small group. But, with enthusiasm still present, the band continued to work on the things within our control.
The Grade 5 band competed several times as well and put on very good performances with lots of new members. The band was asked to join Carlos Nunez at the Dublin Irish festival, and played four numbers with his group after altering our instrument pitch to tune at concert B-flat. A very rewarding experience.
The program lost many of its younger members to colleges and jobs, and many older members to family obligations and finances. 2014 required the program to launch a rebuilding effort with a focus on expanding teaching efforts and on acquiring necessary resources to allow the rebuilt program to prosper down the road. During the rebuild, many of our members actively engaged in solo competition and two of our pipers joined up with the Ontario Grade 1, 78th Frasers Highlanders to serve as drone tuners for the band.
North Coast also got asked to serve as the headliner band for the Dublin Irish Festival Celtic Thunder stage.
The North Coast programs in Grade 3 and Grade 5 collaborated with two other pipe band programs for competition. The Grade 3 band teamed up with the Grade 3 Chicago Celtic Pipe Band from Chicago and the Grade 5 band partnered with Cyril Scott Pipe Band from Columbus, in Grade 4. By doing this, all of our members were able to engage in competition and continue to meet new people and hone skills. Both groups had rewarding experiences. Also, North Coast was the headliner pipe band for the Dublin Irish Festival in Columbus, Ohio and put on a very well-received, high standard show. Crowds were great and lots of fun.