enter the haggis…

Thank you to everyone who came out to Tir Na nOg Irish Pub last night in Raleigh to celebrate Burns Night; a brilliant evening indeed.  Christopher Stevens did an amazing address to the Haggis – while Head Chef Aaron Vaughen put together the best Burns dinner ever (and of course made a lovely the Haggis).   To Annie Nice and the the entire nOg staff, we love you for your kindness. To our family, friends and band members — your ongoing support is appreciated. Lastly, My Three Kilts — y’all are fab — thank you for bringing the noise and raising a cup in kind.

Some photos from the evening fair by band member Ashby Sprately can be see here.

And a collection of “selfies” courtesy of our Drum Major — Jason Lane — can be seen below.


pipe band creed t-shirt…

The Wake and District pipe band CREED shirt is now available via BOOSTER.  PURCHASE HERE!!!

For those unaware For Our Fallen is our motto;
it is everything we stand for.

This is a LIMITED EDITION — black — short-sleeved — 100% cotton t-shirt — features our motto “for our fallen” emblazoned on the front — and a punisher style skull (with checkered glengarry) on the back with the first verse of our creed “Through howl of wind and showers of rain. We play for the living, the dead and the slain“.  PURCHASE HERE!!!

The shirt will be available through Friday 13 February 2015 (3 weeks only) @ www.booster.com/forourfallen  in sizes Men’s XS – XXXXL (view sizing line-up)

The cost is only $15 plus $5 shipping to addresses within the United States of America.  PURCHASE HERE!!!

If you live outside the States and would like to order one please send us an email at info@forourfallen.org and we will try to make arrangements to accommodate.


Through howl of wind and showers of rain.
We play for the living, the dead and the slain.
Our tunes they are the sound of an angels swoon.
For our enemies the sound of their coming doom.
Be you married or buried our band sounds true.
Whenever we’re needed we’ll play there for you.



On Saturday, 05 May 2012 Wake & District members participated on the 7th Annual North Carolina Fallen Fire Fighters memorial service held at Nash Square in Raleigh, NC. As the ceremony was nearing its end – organizers became aware severe weather was about to roll through and expedited the conclusion of the services. As Wake & District pipers and drummers surrounded the memorial to play Amazing Grace — the sky fell a-flood and everything stood still for just a moment as Lee Wilson captured the above photo of band members at attention as the sound of TAPS resonated through the air. This image is powerful and speaks volumes to our program which honors those who sacrifice their lives to serve others; FOR OUR FALLEN is everything we stand for. Thank you to Lee Wilson who – as always – was there to capture such thunder – and to those who had such kind words to share:




share a cup of kindness…

Haggis, Scottish Dancers, the skirl of the pipes & drums  and MY 3 KILTS — all to celebrate Robert Burns Night at Tir Na nOg Irish Pub (drink, music, fun and good times).  Souvenir cups (pint glasses) of kindness will be available for $20 — and include free refills from a keg selection (all proceeds benefit the Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums).

On Saturday, 24 January 2015 the party starts
at Tir Na nOg Irish Pub in Raleigh
with a call to the clans at 7:00 pm!

A Burns Supper is a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns, author of many Scots poems. The suppers are normally held on or near the poet’s birthday, 25 January, sometimes also known as Robert Burns Day or Burns Night (Scots: Burns Nicht), although they may in principle be held at any time of the year…

Burns suppers are most common in Scotland and Northern Ireland but occur wherever there are Burns Clubs, Scottish Societies, expatriate Scots, or aficionados of Burns’ poetry. There is a particularly strong tradition of them in NC where the Scots and Irish setteled.  More information HERE.


#My3Kilts #BurnsNight #PipeBand #CupOfKindness #TirNaNog


a weekend with piper Dan Nevans…

Wake and District spent the weekend with Piper Dan Nevans of the Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band.  Dan was in the states competing at Winter Storm and made his way to Raleigh/Durham as a guest of Séamus and Jean Russell.  In addition to a weekend workshop with our G4 and G3 bands — Dan also put on a wee concert at the home of James Olin Oden.   Thank you to Dan for a wonderful weekend.  Safe home.


a stately ceremony…

Members of the Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums were honored to be a part of the stately ceremony for the 136th Highway Patrol Graduation; the graduation ends 29 weeks of extensive academic and physical training.   Below is a listing of the new graduates and their respective duty stations.

136TH  Basic School Duty Assignments

Last Name First Name Home of Record Duty Station
Alexander Jordon Johnston C6 – Johnston
Alphin Jordon Lenoir A4 – Beaufort
Anderson Christopher Pasquotank A3 – Chowan
Beelendorf Alek Craven A4 – Washington
Best Joel Iredell E3 – Rowan
Bradshaw Ethan Randolph E1 – Davidson
Bush Brett Ash E4 – Forsyth
Clark Christopher Chatham A4 – Beaufort
Cochran Travis Swain G5 – Jackson
Corn Samuel Burke C8 – Halifax
Cross Christopher Onslow B3 – Onslow
Drake Matthew Watauga H1 – Gaston
Easter Derek Gaston A1 – Dare
Edwards Phillip Onslow A7- Jones
Elledge Joseph Guilford E1 – Davidson
Elliott Thomas New Hanover A2 – Bertie
Erlichman Michael Forsyth E4 – Forsyth
Gall Christian New Hanover C8 – Halifax
Grieve Dustin Buncombe H3 – Union
Hall Sean Wilkes F5 – Catawba
Harrah John Franklin C4 – Warren
Hipp Cory Swain G5 – Haywood
Hocutt Nathan Johnston C6 – Johnston
Hughey Alexis Mecklenburg H5 – Mecklenburg
Jacobs Jarred Robeson A3 – Chowan
Juliano Anthony Onslow B3 – Onslow
Kirby Christopher Caldwell C1 – Nash
Locklear Kim Robeson B7 – Robeson
Maher Christopher Durham H5 – Mecklenburg
Martin Haley Buncombe G3 – Henderson
Mastromonica John Guilford E4- Forsyth
McRae Brandon Craven A1 – Currituck
McRavin, IV Lucius Cumberland B8 – Harnett
Moore Steven Rockingham D7 – Orange
Moore Caleb Henderson H5 – Mecklenburg
Morales, Jr. Francisco Alamance D7 – Orange
Moy, II Steven Wake C3 – Wake
Nales Mark Rockingham D2 – Guilford
Neal Terry Lincoln F5 – Catawba
Nelson Joseph Iredell H6 – Hoke
Page Dallas Guilford D1 – Chatham
Paige Dustin Stanly E2 – Montgomery
Ridenhour Christopher Rowan E3 – Rowan
Rivera Vincent Johnston C6 – Johnston
Rizzuto Kristopher Durham C8 – Halifax
Rouse Ronald Craven A1 – Dare
Smith Robert Robeson B7- Robeson
Thompson Stuart Moore D1 – Chatham
Trivett Jacob Burke C1 – Nash
Warwick Jack Wake C3 – Wake
Williams David Buncombe C3 – Henderson
Williamson, Jr. Walter Gaston H5 – Mecklenburg
Wilson Connor Pitt A4 – Beaufort
Wilson Bryon Wake C3 – Wake


As a nod to our newest band member Stephen Turnbull — we wish these graduates Fair Winds and Following Seas as they begin their journey as Troopers.

After nearly four years of being diagnosed with a cancer tumor that affected his life, Stephen is back in the saddle again; playing bass drum with Wake and District.  Never let cancer get you down.


chrome is the new black…

We’re back at it — working Dominic Tancredi – the owner of  Woodshed Stage Art on the production of new bass drum heads for 2015.  What you will see this time is CHROME!!!  We took a nod from the  78th FRASER HIGHLANDERS PIPE BAND mirrored bass drum and the classic Drum Shield design — and used our FoF sheild with pin-striping.  Another larger watermarked FoF logo is prominently displayed.   Working with Dominic has been fantastic – responsive to all of our needs.  Woodshed has done this kind of work before for the likes of Sir Elton John, Taylor Swift, Jay Z, Mary Blige, Bruno Mars and the LA SCOTS pipe band…just to name a few.

Our logo is made up from the letters F-O-F, For Our Fallen, making the shape of a shield. The checkered Battenburg pattern is traditional and worn by the band members (read more on why we wear checkered Glengarry hats here). The mark represents everything Wake & District stands for, “For Our Fallen”.

#AllAboutTheBass #ForOurFallen


gradual and orderly change…

On Monday, 05 January 2015 the Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums held our annual general meeting to review and plan for 2015 and beyond.  Over 50 members were in attendance.  A copy of our presentation to the band can be found here.

As an overview…band elections were held and we are pleased to announce Joe Brady will continue to serve as band manager, Jean Russell as assistant band manager, John Schodtler as treasurer, Lloyd Johnson as secretary and Bill Atwell as member at large.  It is pretty amazing to see 3 of our 7 founding band members on the board for the band.

The board appointed the pipe majors and lead tips for the 2015 competition season.  They include:

  • Ken McKeveny, G3 pipe major and Patrick O’Leary, lead tip
  • Bruce Ledet, G4 pipe major and Jacob Egen, lead tip
  • Michael Bishop, G5 pipe major and Laura Okagaki-Vraspir, lead tip

The board went on to re-appoint existing NCOs and add new ones.  The band NCOs for 2015 are as follows:

  • Joe Brady, pipe major
  • Jason Lane, drum major
  • Patrick O’Leary, drum sergeant
  • John Schodtler, pipe sergeant
  • Seth Wells, pipe sergeant
  • Bruce Ledet, pipe corporal
  • Michael Bishop, pipe corporal
  • Jacob Egen, drum corporal
  • Laura Okagaki-Vraspir, drum corporal
  • John Lovett, bass corporal
  • Jean Russell, tenor corporal
  • Ken McKeveny, senior piping instructor
  • Thomas Foote, senior drumming instructor


A 2014 year in review was discussed (a detailed description by our band secretary, Lloyd Johnson, can be found here).  We highlighted how the band is always answering the call to serve public safety agencies in the region at graduations, promotions and other celebrations.  Thankfully, as a band we were not called upon to play an honors funeral in 2014.

We went on to recognize the following competition related accomplishments:

  • G4 2nd place overall EUSPBA
  • G5 10th place overall EUSPBA
  • Garrett Justice 6th place overall — upgraded to G3
  • Jean Russell 1st place overall — upgraded to professional

 We are proud of all of our members and their commitment to the work.  “There is a really good piping scene in your area…Wake and District is a big part of that, and as you grow you want to continue to be a positive force…it is great to see good things happening down there.”  – June Hanley, chair of the EUSPBA music board

The board went on to recognize a number of band members for 5+ years of service.  Uniform service marks were distributed and will be worn on the left sleeve of our Class A uniform jackets to recognize this commitment.

A discussion was had how members, music and uniforms come and go; it was sad to see several plays step away from Wake and District in 2014.  We are happy to announce so many new players joining the band – including several “traveling players” – a separate note will be shared about that…

Expectations were discussed in terms of rehearsal – which will result in additional rehearsal nights for the band in general, along with our G3, G5 and G5 competition programs; there is never enough time on a single Monday night.

Our tentative competition schedule was laid out – and we look forward to a large debut at Loch Norman on 18 April 2015.

Before that we have several events on the calendar including a NCSHP graduation on 17 January, the Tir Na nOg Burns Supper on  24 January, the WORLD RECORD KILT run on 07 March – and all things St. Patrick on the 14th of March.  The band is also making plans to attend the National Law Enforcement Memorial the week of 11 May 2015.

As we near our 10 year anniversary – we formed a committee (Jason Lane, Michael Bishop, Patrick McArdle) to spearhead all the events surrounding the marking of 10 years together…more to come.


The concept of KAIZEN will guide us through 2015 and forward.  Everyone should be willing to improve themselves for the better — continually.  It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you’re reasonably sure it won’t make things worse.


Part of the process of KAIZEN is to analyze and re-arrange the processes of how we do things.  We’ve already indicated we are changing how we are going to conduct rehearsals; adding nights.  Music is another change; band tune arrangements – battery 4 was distributed.  Some new tunes, some old tunes, some modified tunes and some tunes archived; something for everyone.

A Uniform Standards Guide was put together by our senior Drum Major, Jason Lane.  It provides detailed instruction on our various uniforms and how they should be worn.   New Summer uniforms were also distributed which include new short sleeve white shirts with band patches and charcoal grey socks (as a nod to our brothers and sisters in the NCHSP).



Our senior piping instructor, Ken McKeveny thanked everyone for their hard work throughout 2014 and asked for everyone’s commitment to practicing at home and coming to rehearsals ready to play.  Competing both as a band and as solos was discussed – and we look forward to many of our members stepping onto the solo boards for the first time.  There is no point in trying to explain why we don’t achieve something:

  • If it is due to lack of investment, we need to try harder.
  • If it was a technique flaw, we need to fix it.
  • If it was a loss of memory, we need to focus more.

The band as a whole will get better from this effort.

Ken’s one request…make a good faith effort.


The meeting ended with a discussion of our stated mission:

To provide a distinguishing tribute for fallen heroes.

To be of service to the family, friends and co-workers of public safety employees of Raleigh, Wake County and all those who serve and protect.

Strengthen relations between the protective services and the public and to preserve cultural heritage and enrich our community by providing traditional bagpipe and drum music.

For Our Fallen is everything we stand for.

We will follow our mission while being mindful of the steps we are taking as a band.

Given the different levels within our program it is imperative – training, practicing, and playing be done as “one band”.

We will never waver from our mission; competition is a secondary undertaking.

We will continue to see the big picture & build at every opportunity.




#Kaizen #NewNorms #NeverSettle


here’s to continuous improvement…

As the calendar turns to 2015, many people make resolutions to improve themselves in the New Year. Resolutions would be a good idea for Pipe Bands as well…

Some bands have specific needs to address in 2015 — like changing tunes, adding more pipers and/or drummers or finding new instruction.  Others may need to totally re-build.

What is your band’s new year’s resolution?  

One of ours is Kaizen.

What is Kaizen?  Kaizen is based on making changes anywhere improvements can be made. Western philosophy may be summarized as, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Kaizen philosophy is to “do it better, make it better, improve it even if it isn’t broken, because if we don’t, we can’t compete with those who do.”   #ContinuousImprovement

Our on-going mission remains remembering those who serve and protect us. These heroes are no longer with us. But we can tell you in our hearts, we will always remember and be grateful for your husband, your wife, your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, your daughter, your son. We will make sure their names and their memories live on in the hearts, minds, and souls of our community for generations to come. This is our commitment to you. This is our duty —- For Our Fallen. #RememberThem  #ForOurFallen

Happy New Year, everyone.


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 50th Anniversary celebration of the Durham Highway Fire Department in Wake County, the Raleigh Veterans Day parade, the 3rd Annual 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.

– Lloyd Johnson

Lloyd Johnson is a Captain with the City of Raleigh Fire Department and a founding member (bagpiper) of the Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums.  His daughter, Jessica is also a member of the band as a tenor drummer.



the true spirit of giving…

Christmas is a time where most people often focus on themselves and their immediate families and if not consciously aware, can get caught up in the glitz and the glamour of the season, while forgetting about those who continue to stand guard, man our perimeters, patrol our streets and give so much of themselves. Make sure during this Christmas Season you take the time to thank those contributing so much to so many.

Make sure you take the time to recognize all the things being done to help you, help the families of those who serve you – and take the time to thank the efforts of your peers, your subordinates and your leaders.

Christmas time and this entire Holiday Season is also about giving…giving to others who otherwise do not receive your accolades, your encouragements and your personal touch. While you spend time focused on your family this Holiday Season, remember the families whose loved ones are still working to make your life better daily.

On behalf of the Wake & District family, may this season bring you enormous blessings in perspective, accomplishment, opportunity and resilient growth.

Remember those who know the true spirit of giving…Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!