Your city • inside and out

The Pipe Band Plays On

In Here & Now on March 12, 2009 at 9:55 pm


3/14 & 17 • Bill Thomas moved to Spokane from Ellensburg in 1958 with the sole purpose of joining the Angus Scott Pipe Band—one of the oldest existing bagpipe bands in the Northwest. Around the same time, Thomas founded the Shadle Park High School Pipe Band.
That’s where Kenyon Fields first encountered Thomas, as a student in the pipe band in 1970. Today, Fields leads the Angus Scott Pipe Band and Thomas, at age 77, still plays in the pipe band and works with students.
And marching with the Angus Scott Pipe Band is no walk in the park—especially on Saint Patrick’s Day.
After leading the parade, the ASPB takes one of the most grueling pub-crawls known to Spokane. If there is a restaurant or bar in town with even an inkling of Irish flair, chances are high that the ASPB will be there between parade day and St. Patrick’s Day proper, often several times in one day.
The Angus Scott Pipe Band—which, incidentally, is Scottish—marches through downtown, the North Side and Spokane Valley. Their first excursion was St. Patrick’s Day 1979, and they now constitute a tradition that the most spirited St. Patrick’s Day celebrants in Spokane have come to expect.
Thomas’ fondness for parade-day memories and the post-parade madness that ensues on the pub crawl is visible.
“One of the great experiences we had was in 1997. We were marching in a blizzard. It was blistering cold and the bagpipes require nimble fingers–that made it difficult for the band,” Thomas said.
When the Angus Scott Pipe Band enters a bar on parade day, the eruption from the crowd is often louder than the music. Fields said, “The funny part is, we might have one beer the whole weekend. After running around and doing all of these performances, we’re more interested in drinking water.” — IJ

Click here for a list of St. Patrick’s Day hotspots to catch the Angus Scott Pipe Band.


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