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2012 – A year like no other…

As 2012 rang in many of us in the band wondered what the New Year would bring. There was a different feeling among the group this year…a feeling like something great was about to happen. We all felt the feeling of satisfaction which comes with maturity and the development of experience. No longer the new guys on the block but still the hungry pipe band, still driving forward, still with something to prove. Needless to say, the year 2012 did not disappoint. While some traditional events were revisited, the year brought with it a lot of newness as well. It was truly a year like no other.

The year began with a re-boot of our website which became a fast favorite of the community. We have enjoyed watching the response to the new site and we are hopeful that it will continue forward in its popularity.

As a band made up of public servants and those who are service-minded, we enjoy nothing more than giving back to our communities and 2012 was no exception. We met some new faces this year, such as the NC Chapter of the Wives Behind the Badges Inc., a women’s auxiliary group which serves the law enforcement community as a support group of law enforcement spouses. We were able to strengthen the bonds recently created with groups like the USO, by playing at events such as the Triangle Flight of Honor, which pays tribute to our WWII veterans by allowing the surviving veterans to pay a visit to their departed brothers on the wall in Washington, D.C., only to return to Raleigh to a true hero’s welcome. The USO also asked us to pipe in the start of a charity golf tournament and they gave us a chance to dress classy as we played for their annual Black Tie Gala, where we were surprised and honored to meet the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

We renewed our friendship with the Jimmy V. Foundation, performing at their Black Tie Gala, which was dedicated this year to our first responders. Once again, we spent St. Patrick’s Day with our good friends in the City ofNorth Myrtle Beach as we were privileged to lead their parade this year. We played Christmas events, like the tree lighting of the Flowers Plantation community in Johnston County. We played commencement ceremonies for graduating students of Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC. We helped light up the streets of Pinehurst, during their 4th of July festivities. We played for those that celebrate the culture and heritage our instruments were born from; organizations like NC SCOT, Inis Cairde School of Irish Dance, and the tenth birthday of the Piper’s Tavern in Raleigh. We even had time to participate in some true grass roots community service, as we helped to raise much needed funding for a wee injured lass named Caroline…

Another group of folks that help bring alive the heritage and foster the culture of the Celts is a group that deserves their own paragraph in our year-end installment. They are the outstanding folks that make up the Tir Na nOg Irish Pub in Raleigh headed by owner Pete Pagano and General Manager, Cruise Director and Band Mom Annie Nice. From the very beginning the band began to take shape in this pub, and the people involved there threw their hearts into the band just the same as we did and have never looked back. The 1st day we met Annie, her son Andrew was sitting outside enjoying a pint, and he said to one of the Not YET formed band members “YOU” need to find my Mom and talk to her. Andrew told his mom to find us (he had a great sense of direction).

We were asked to play for many of their events this year, like the Green Run, Burns’ Night, Raleigh Irish Fest, Celtic Christmas, Raleigh Gaelic Athletic Association events, and most recently, the 15th Birthday Celebration of the Pub itself. Every year we try to find the words to describe what this place and its people mean to us, and every year it is the same; no matter how hard we look, there are no words that adequately do the job. To Pete, Annie and the whole family at the pub; we thank you so much for all that you do for us and we love you all dearly.

Another organization that has given much to our group over the years has been the City of Raleigh Fire Department. We got the chance to give back to them this year, as they celebrated their 100th Anniversary as a professional, paid fire department. We were honored to lead off the Centennial Day Parade with the RFD Honor Guard escorting the Colors proudly. We also signaled the opening of the 100th Anniversary Gala, a first of its kind for the department. We played for the graduating class of RFD Academy 37, as well as several promotional ceremonies throughout the year. With three of our current band members being active duty and retired Raleigh Fire, we share a common bond that is ever present.

This band formed to serve, honor and when necessary, remember our brothers and sisters in public safety. While we may not receive invitations to play for all of the fallen, we feel the sting no less. When called on, we played, and when necessary, we stood quietly by and sent our condolences as public servants across the state and beyond were laid to rest, having given their all to their fellow man.

We honored the peacekeepers, during events like the Wake County Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, the annual Run For Our Heroes, and from agencies like the Watauga County Sheriff’s, Bladen County Sheriff’s, Lumberton P.D., and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, as they gently laid their brothers to rest. We honored the firefighters, as the White Oak F.D. Antioch F.D. Kernersville F.D., and Bladen County Emergency Services all sent brothers home this year. We honored a fallen medic from Pinetops, NC as he was called home following service to his community. We also helped pipe home a very special public servant that is truly missed by children all over Wake County. He taught many of them to stop, drop and roll and gave them all very heartfelt and wet kisses. Angus the Firefighter Canine served his community as his brothers in the Durham Highway Fire Department do today; with all of his heart.

The band was honored to send a representative to Fort Bragg in tribute to soldiers lost this year from the 16th Military Police Brigade, Airborne. Once again, the band sent a contingent of our firefighter membership to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend in Emmetsburg, Maryland, where the families of the fallen were held up in support and love, and the fallen were honored with respect and reverence.

2012 has been a real breakout year for Wake & District in the area of competition. Through hard work and commitment from many instructors and players, we were able to field competition bands in both Grade IV and Grade V this year. We traveled as far as Delaware to see how we would stand up to some of the Eastern United States greatest bands. Our drumming competitors spent entire weekends in workshops with professional instructor Andrew Hoinacki, owner of AR2 Drumming. Several pipers spent hours under the instruction of renowned instructor and adjudicator Ken McKeveny.

All of our competitors reached into their own pockets in order to travel to highland games competitions throughout the Eastern U.S., not in an effort to aggrandize themselves, but instead to further themselves as musicians and further the reputation and good name of this band. In the end we did pretty well, with the Grade IV band placing 16th out of 61 bands and the Grade V band placing 8th out of 103 bands. Several of our band members placed extremely well in solo competition as well. We are all very proud of their musicianship, professionalism and dedication to the mission, a dedication that we all share.

This year saw the welcome return of a fan favorite that took a break last year. What used to be called our Tartan Ball was this year renamed the “Fall Fling”, and that it was. While it was a more intimate affair than in years past, it seemed to be just what the doctor ordered, as it was one of the most well received and complemented events of its kind we have had to date.

It is our hope that we have done everyone proud through our actions and service. We continue to answer the call that is our mission; to honor our fallen. We will continue to strive for improvement. We reaffirm our commitment to our brothers, our families, and our community at each rehearsal, and at every event. We hope you will come out and see us in the coming year and be pleased with the sights and sounds we provide. We wish everyone all the best and look forward to new experiences, new friendships and new opportunities to serve all of you.

2013 – A rising tide…

The famous British surgeon, scientist and politician Lord Robert Winston said these words: “Man is a competitive creature, and the seeds of conflict are built deep into our genes. We fought each other on the savannah and only survived against great odds by organizing ourselves into groups which would have had a common purpose, giving morale and fortitude.”

And so almost eight years ago, the first members of the Wake & District Public Safety Pipes and Drums organized themselves into a group which would have a common purpose. It is a purpose that is among the most noble and fulfilling of purposes; and by honoring this singular purpose, of honoring our fallen, we have ourselves been carried upon a rising tide that, unlike our ocean’s tides, could not have been predicted. It is a tide that continues to rise and carry us to ever expanding horizons, where we continued throughout 2013 to form new alliances and make new friends. It is a purpose that continues to fill all of us with morale and fortitude.

In the last year, Wake and District was of service to many of our old friends. We provided the backdrop for graduating North Carolina State Troopers and City of Raleigh Firefighters; for Wake County Sheriff Deputies and for incoming Raleigh City Council members. We played for our brothers in blue during the Run for Our Heroes event in Raleigh. Our friends in the NC chapter of the USO invited us once again to several events, including their annual black tie Gala. While we have always held close our brothers and sisters in the military, we expanded our family this past year, by playing the Spring Ball of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, as well as our traditional participation in Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day parades and activities. New friends were also made in Operation Coming Home as we helped welcome a deserving wounded veteran and his family into “Hero Home Six”.

We continued to foster our growing relationships with friends like Campbell University by providing pomp and circumstance for new graduates. Another new acquaintance and fast fan of our group is Raleigh’s own mayor, Nancy McFarlane, who asked for the pipes and drums during several of her local appearances. We celebrated our nation’s Independence under our state’s magnificent Capitol dome as the pipes and drums lit up the square for the 4th of July.

And of course, we were once again honored and humbled to play our signature event, which was the celebration in remembrance of North Carolina’s Fallen Firefighters. It is our band’s centerpiece; the event that brought together the people and events that would lead to the reason we are all together today.

We tend not to dwell very long on the fact that what we do has strong ties with death and mourning. We would be remiss, however, to not take a moment and remember the fallen of the last year. From the wildland firefighters of Prescott, Arizona, to the Garda Police in Europe, men and women; our brothers and sisters, paid the ultimate price in service to others. Many were our friends, from as near as Fayetteville Fire Department, New Hanover County Fire and Rescue, Asheville Police, and Brassfield Fire Department. The members of our Armed Forces lost in battle also will not be forgotten as they gave the last great measure of devotion for their country. Then there was the loss of a great friend of the band and to the piping world; a friend that is directly responsible for our band’s existence, all because he saw promise in a young boy from Chicago many years ago, who wanted to learn the bagpipes. We will miss you David McKee Sr. and we are better for having known you, if only for a short while.

Luckily for us, we play as hard as we work. This past year we played in pubs and other locales across the southeast, opening for bands like My Three Kilts, Albanach and the Battlefield Band. We kept tradition alive, through celebrations like Burns Night, and through competing in the Southern branch of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, where we tasted success in both our Grade 4 and Grade 5 bands, along with individuals gaining accolades in solo competition. During St. Patrick’s Day weekend, we made no less than 9 appearances across two states and managed to squeeze in an impromptu gig at a wedding reception, much to the surprise of the wedding party. We even attempted to help set a world record. Although we came very close, we will have to redeem ourselves this year as the “kilted shenanigans” continue.

One of our proudest moments this year was in service to someone we have come to love dearly, as we helped our band mother, Annie Nice, reclaim her personal possessions from years spent in a storage unit in Europe and bring them back home to North Carolina, this time to stay. Without the love of Annie and our family at Tir Na nOg, we would be in a far different place. We thank them so much for allowing us to hold our fundraiser there this year, which was a rousing success.
As is often the case with groups, there have been comings and goings. Over the last year we have had members step back for the good of the band. We have had some retire from the band and we will miss them. At the same time, we have welcomed new, young people into the band, who have taken up the mantle of commitment and honor that is required of a good band member. We have gained strong leadership, which pushes us farther as we strive to improve. 2013 was the “year of the clinic”, as we learned from some of the industry’s best and brightest players and composers, and we are all the better for it.

During the past year of events and performances, it often happened so fast that we hardly realized just how quickly it all took place. Before we knew it, another year had flown by. We have all learned so much in the past year; about our music, our mission, and ourselves. Our band has been forged in the fires of determination, commitment and honor. We will continue our journey on the rising tide, and we will see the sun rise and set on many tides to come; and we hope you will all be there to share in it.

2014 – A journey of fulfillment…

Every year, I am asked to provide a “year in review” — looking back on the past 12 months of accomplishments and experiences of this very special group. This year I sat in front of my notebook, thinking of words that describe our band. Several came to mind rather quickly. Strength. Resiliency. Concentration. Fun. Honor. Some other words, just as important, took more effort to bring into clarity. Sacrifice. Dedication. Focus. Spirited. Limitlessness. Hope. Brotherhood.

marching with our brothers and sisters at the NCFFF Memorial
marching with our brothers and sisters at the NCFFF Memorial

All of these words only begin to define Wake & District. To understand truly what we are about, you need to encounter it. For many of our members and fans as well, the experience has been transformative. I personally have witnessed the spark in the eyes of a new member that feels the emotion of brotherhood and the band mission for the first time. It brings a smile to my face even now. To see the moment when they realize this feeling is something that was missing in their lives and has been newly discovered; when they next realize they will never be without that feeling again…it is quite a moment.

It is a contagion that travels through word of mouth, enticing people from near and far to come and see; to be party to what they have been hearing about; to see if it is indeed true. Oftentimes, this means the addition of another member. We have experienced this quite a few times over the past year. Our group is over 70 members strong. Finding this many people who embody the words in the opening paragraph is extremely difficult. We are fortunate to be able to say they have found us, and we have taken them to task.

on parade in RALEIGH — March 2014

One of the earliest tests of our members for 2014 came in March, as heavy demands were placed on the band during the festivities surrounding St. Patrick. After several years of spending the day marching in parades in other locales, Wake & District came home this year, marching proudly for our home town fans in Raleigh’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, followed by a myriad of events throughout the city and beyond. How far beyond? In the case of our pipe major, all the way to Quebec City, Canada!  Some have dubbed this trial, “The Crucible”. It is indeed a challenge; a most welcome challenge. Fun doesn’t begin to describe it.

on stage with the Chieftains at the Duke Energy Center for the performing arts.
on stage with the Chieftains at the Duke Energy Center for the performing arts

Good times are often the centerpiece of events we are asked to participate in. During 2014, these were occasions like providing the opening act for the internationally acclaimed Chieftains and the Makem & Spain Brothers from Ireland, and our friends making up the band known as My 3 Kilts. We were honored to participate in massed bands performances for both the Men’s and Women’s 2014 U.S. Open golf tournaments in the picturesque village of Pinehurst. We formed new friendships with companies like Ranger Up Military and MMA Apparel.

While having fun is a luxury we often get to enjoy, Wake & District is a Public Safety pipe band, and this means service above all. We exist to serve. 2014 was no exception. We provided distinguished service to many organizations, including the 50thAnniversary celebration of the Durham Highway Fire Department in Wake County, the Raleigh Veterans Day parade, the 3rdAnnual Wives Behind the Badge Gala, and the Carolina Brotherhood, a dedicated group of cyclist\firefighters who pedal across the Carolinas, from Raleigh to Charleston, in support of the brotherhood forged in fire.

RPD Memorial – 25 April 2014
Raleigh Police Memorial – 25 April 2014

Our spirit of service continues to manifest itself through events played for some of our bedrock organizations, those groups who have been there for us since the very beginning, many times providing much needed financial support, as well as a kind word of encouragement and thanks. Events like the promotional ceremonies and the graduation of Recruit Academy 39, of the City of Raleigh Fire Department. It was an honor to help our brothers and sisters in the Raleigh Police Department dedicate their new City of Raleigh Police Memorial, honoring the eight officers who gave their last full measure of devotion to the city they loved.

receiving the Colonel's appreciation award from the NCSHP
receiving the Colonel’s appreciation award from the NCSHP

We owe so much to our family in grey, the NC State Highway Patrol. They provide us with our home for rehearsals and clinics. We proudly honored them in 2014 through performances at promotional ceremonies, as well as the graduations of Basic Patrol Schools 134 and 135.

We cannot properly express our humility, gratitude and love for our brothers and sisters in grey. They are truly a part of our band family.

One of the highlights of our year was when we received the invitation from our Highway Patrol family to attend their annual awards ceremony, not to perform, but to be honored. The Highway Patrol recognized our group, bestowing the Colonel’s Appreciation Award in thanks for all we have done for them.

leading the North Carolina Veteran’s Day Parade
leading the North Carolina Veteran’s Day Parade

In 2014, as in every year of our existence, we paid tribute to our community’s bravest, by performing in the parade and ceremonies of the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend in Raleigh, where 11 names were added to the wall of the fallen. Joined this year by pipers and drummers from Asheville, Charlotte and Cary Fire Departments, we were able to deliver a strong presence and a heartfelt performance at this, the birth place of Wake and District. This spirit of honoring our fallen continued into the year, when three of our band members – all firefighters – traveled to Maryland to participate in the honor guard services for the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend.

As a further continuation of our commitment to our mission statement, we dispatched individual members and mini bands across the state and beyond throughout the past year, to pay tribute as law enforcement officers and firefighters gave the ultimate sacrifice, in service to the public they so faithfully served. We all leave a piece of ourselves with our brothers when we pipe them home.

Charleston Games -- G4 1st place, G5 3rd place
Charleston Games — G4 1st place, G5 3rd place

2014 was a year of unprecedented growth for the organization, as the members of Wake & District renewed their efforts to improve themselves and the group through increased levels of competition in the Southern Branch of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association. We had enough interest to provide bands in Grades 4 and 5 on the competition field at highland games across the southeast, including Loch Norman, Greenville SC, Charleston SC, Stone Mountain GA, Laurinburg NC and Richmond VA. Several of our members competed at the solo level and garnered several awards for their efforts.We are proud to call them members of Wake & District and applaud them for all their hard work.

The coming year will see Wake & District increase its presence, with the addition of a Grade 3 competition band (standing alongside our G4 and G5 groups), as well as the creation of a juvenile program, a labor of love created by our pipe major, Joseph Brady, which has been christened The Crossroads Kilty Band. The band continues to catch the eye of adjudicators and fans alike as we perform among the highest levels of pipe band competition in the country.

designing a chanter with Roddy MacLellan
designing a chanter with Roddy MacLellan

One of our old friends has gone to unprecedented lengths to help us continue in our quest for better sound. Roddy MacLellan, master pipe maker and owner of MacLellan Bagpipe Company, recently granted some of our advanced players exclusive access to his facility in an effort to create an instrument customized to our band’s needs. The trip was wonderful, and the results of many hours of patient and tedious work on Roddy’s part are showing promise for the future. We thank Roddy and his family for their support and encouragement as the band strives to find its own clear, distinctive sound.

We have fostered many endearing relationships with fellow pipe bands and individual players on the competition trail, and look forward to a new year of spirited rivalry, and of friendships renewed.

One of the greatest joys we experience as a band is playing for our fans. We love seeing familiar faces, who go to the trouble of seeking out our performances. We love seeing new faces, that light up when a wall of sound envelopes them for the first time. The Wake & District family wishes to thank all of you for your continued support of what we do.

Tenor Drummer Jessica Johnson (circa 2007)
Tenor Drummer Jessica Johnson (circa 2007)

The members of Wake & District wish to thank our family members, who allow us to make sacrifices of our time in order to take part in this group. For all of us, this has become a family affair. Without your patience, approval and love, we simply would not be. Thank you.

From the very beginning of this journey, every member has been told this will not be easy. In fact, it will oftentimes be quite difficult. Your patience will be tested. It will place a constant demand on your time, your finances, and your attention.  You will give everything you have and it still may not be enough. You may find in the end, it just isn’t for you. But oh, my friend, what a journey it will be. Those of us who find this to be a calling have had new doors opened to us from every direction. In my own experience, I have been places I never had before. I have made lasting friendships with people I would never have met through any other aspect of my life.  It has brought a true enrichment to life. It is our hope that these feelings are made evident to all of you, our fans, every time we perform. Music is the stuff of life; an escape from reality; a refuge for the mind. It is memories and experiences made into sound.  Please come and share some time with us when you can. We promise you a smile and a fulfillment that only the sound of the pipes and drums can bring. See you then.

2015 – Only the beginning

2015 marked our 9th year together.   In some ways it seems so long ago we gathered together; a group of strangers, to see what this concept was all about. We looked around the room and recognized some familiar faces, but more often our gaze was met by complete strangers. We listened intently, while those with the vision of what we could become laid the plan before us. We quickly learned this would not be an easy thing, but few things in life worth having rarely are. At that first meeting, a cornerstone was set into place, which became a foundation for a group of men and women the likes of which had never been seen. We have heard these words from so many of our members; “I have been in many pipe bands, but I have never been a part of anything like this.”

Over the past 9 years, that room full of strangers has met with challenges and triumphs, with difficulties and frustration, and are strangers no longer.  Few remain of the original group, but if you look around, you might be able to pick out the six founding members who remain. They have survived through adversity and stand a little straighter than most, maybe just a bit proud, and rightfully so, but if you speak with them you will not hear of any pride, but instead a sharp wit or quick bit of humor, used as a disguise for humility. Hopefully, you will see in them the virtues the band strives for: honor, duty, and service. They are fiercely protective of this group and all who are involved with it. Most of all, they are thankful. They are thankful for this group of men and women here today, because we would not be where we are now without them.

Throughout the year we have managed to maintain relationships with organizations such as the USO, Wives Behind the Badge, and the City of Raleigh. We have continued to honor our public safety brothers and sisters through our support of graduation, promotion and retirement ceremonies for organizations around the area, including the Raleigh Fire Department, Raleigh Police Department, Cary Police Department, Wake County Sherriff’s Department, the NC Highway Patrol, and the NC State Bureau of Investigation. We have even managed to forge new relationships with great local organizations, like the Raleigh Comic Con and the Carolina Hurricanes. Through it all, we have never wavered from our founding mission and reason for being here, to honor our fallen.

The band once again found time to devote to competition this year, attempting to field three different grade level bands in contests across the southeast, and as far north as Chicago. The instructors have always said that competing makes you an overall better player, and the majority of our band’s roster chose to accept the challenge and find out if this statement was true. It presented us all with incentive to push harder and commit fully to the task. It also allowed us to have a lot of fun and continue building relationships with pipe bands near and far that we are honored to call our friends.

While 2015 has been a lot of business as usual, it has been a different year for the group as well. Much of this year has been devoted to looking inward as a group. It shouldn’t really be described as a rebuilding; it is more of an exploration into what we can truly become. The instructors are focusing the players on exactly what it will take to become something more; something better than we are even now. The commitment level of our members is being constantly tested. This year the group has been very fortunate to have several of the best and brightest players and instructors in the region seek us out and contribute their talents and abilities to making us all better, stronger musicians.

As 2015 draws to a close, we find ourselves in an unfamiliar place. Our pipe band home, Tir na nOg Irish Pub, recently closed it’s doors for the last time, after providing years of great memories for the local Irish community. Fortunately, local Irish roots grow deep, and we have been graciously adopted by another fixture in Raleigh’s Irish scene, the Hibernian. While we miss the old pub already, we are excited for what the future holds with our new old friends on Glenwood South.

After a year with so much introspection and growth for many of our members, we can’t help but anticipate what lies ahead. We have come through so much, and there is much left to conquer. Only those who focus and commit will survive. Several inspirational moments have worked their way to the forefront of our consciences this year. Two that stand out in my mind are these – and we hope to find our way to both…

“We aren’t just playing music. We are playing history.”

“Practice as if you have never won. Perform as if you have never lost.”

2016 – Renewed focus on perspective..

Inspiration.   It can come from the simplest of imaginings, or it can be almost unattainable at times. In a word, this defines our band during the past year. We have sought it out in every possible way. From the written words of well known speakers, to the encouraging words of others. We were honored by visits and in-house workshops by influential players and friends from across the globe. We looked for inspiration in everything we did this past year, as it was a year of constant change.

We have spent the last year focused intently on what and who we are. It has been a time of reformation, as the band has breathed and groaned through the growing pains and the changes necessary for continued development. It has been a time of reaffirmation of our mission and our ideals, to instill in our newer members an understanding of just what it is we strive to do. This must be understood above all else…For Our Fallen is everything we stand for.

As we have done since our humble beginnings, we continued to honor our local communities and our public safety community whenever called upon. We reached out to share our heritage through local events, from kilt runs to Christmas tree lightings and everything in between. We supported higher learning, through participating in graduation ceremonies for Wake Technical Community College and Campbell University. Once again, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with our friends in North Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, South Carolina.

The band was honored to be selected as a participant in the 2016 Virginia International Tattoo, a week long display of military music and the largest of its kind in the United States. Wake and District performed alongside 1500 performers from Ireland, Jordan and all corners of the globe. With several days in hotel rooms and many exhaustive hours of practice, this was a massive commitment that stretched our participating members to their limits. It was an effort that all involved will agree was absolutely worth it, as they made new and lasting friendships with like-minded musicians from around the world, made possible by the international language of music.

Our commitment to our public safety family was honored in 2016, as we added, in our own small way, to graduations, promotion ceremonies and academies for agencies including the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Wake County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Raleigh Police and Fire Departments.

As in years past, we continued to honor our fallen in memorial services around the country, including the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial at Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Our commitment to music extends into the realm of competition, as we believe it makes us stronger performers and allows us to further sharpen our playing abilities for the times when we must honor our mission to our public safety brothers and sisters. Competitions across the southeastern U.S. provided the band with motivation and inspiration to strive for more. In 2016, the band also gave back to the piping community, by sponsoring a competition right here in Raleigh. The Inaugural Mike Murphy Memorial Indoor Pipe Band Competition was an officially sanctioned event, held on the grounds of Ravenscroft School, attracting bands from across the southeast with the lure of an air conditioned indoor pipe band contest in the blistering heat of July. It was a great time and well represented, with many favorable comments from participants and attendees. We look forward to sponsoring the next offering of this event in 2017.

During 2016, we found ourselves homeless, in a way, as the Irish pub known as Tir na nOg closed its doors. Having been our “home” from the beginning, we became a wayward pipe band, being welcomed into pubs and taverns across the area throughout the year. Our band mother, Annie Nice, however, refused to give up on the idea of a home for the Triangle’s Irish community. Through her hard work and dedication, Tir na nOg was reborn on East Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh, and a welcome sight it was. Best of all, Wake & District was included from the start, with our influence scattered throughout the pub. We are sincerely thankful to Annie and our pub family for creating a new home that includes us.

One of the hallmarks of successful organizations is their ability to remain dynamic. Their leaders recognize that change becomes necessary to avoid stagnation and to stimulate creativity. The band has been no different, as some changes in leadership have taken place this past year. The membership has looked on somewhat tentatively as our “founding fathers” have taken a step back; a well deserved rest after years of shaping and building this group. At the same time, we are hopeful, as new leaders emerge and bring their influences to the group. The transition thus far has been smooth and impressive. We look forward to what lies ahead in 2017 and beyond.

As you hopefully have gathered by now, 2016 was a very meaningful year for our band. It was a period of intense focus; of reigniting the fires of ambition and commitment. It brought a renewed focus on perspective; what is truly important to the life of this group. We were reminded to stay centered; to not forget who we are. And so we press on. We continue striving for more. Becoming satisfied can be a slippery slope. Rather than settle for being satisfied, we instead prefer sliding down that slope head first. What waits for us at the end will come up fast, but we will be ready for it. We will change if we must, but no matter what, we will have a fantastic time getting there; and we hope you will come along for the ride.