The Southland Times
August 22, 1998
feet, swollen ankles and blisters have been the order
of the day for the City of Invercargill Caledonian Pipe
Band in Edinburgh.
"It was from all the marching we've been doing,"
band drum major Neale Smith said this week.
The band is in Edinburgh performing at the annual military
which attracts sell-out audiences totalling more than
The first rehearsal on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle
was four days before the tattoo opened, and the band discovered
its marching display didn't fit.
"The measurements we were faxed over were incorrect,"
Mr Smith said.
"So that night we did a bit of tweaking here and
there to knock about 36 paces of forward movement."
Rehearsals started the next day in the rain and the band
practised until 11pm.
"We had three days of rehearsals like that.
"It wasn't hard work, just very tiring waiting around
'till things got
sorted out, and if it rained it rained. We didn't pack
up and wait 'till it
stopped. We just got wetter.
"After three days, everything was looking fine."
The final dress rehearsal was really a free concert for
an audience of
It was the Invercargill band's first opportunity to do
its display with the lighting, Mr Smith said.
"I gave the command to step off and they hit me with
three spotlights from directly in front. I couldn't see
a thing and lost all perception of where everything was."
The lighting director had since changed the spotlights.
Opening night was "a buzz." "It is everything
you would expect; 9600
The massed band of 130 pipers, 80 drummers and 150 brass
created an "impressive sound."
Two days later, the massed pipes and drums and the whole
cast of the tattoo marched in the Edinburgh Festival cavalcade
About 120,000 people lined the streets.
"The parade marched for three miles and if you stood
in one spot it took the parade three hours to go past,"
Mr Smith said.
The band has also competed at the North Berwich contest,
where 60 bands took part.
"In New Zealand at the nationals we normally have
45-odd bands and 60 here in Scotland is just a normal
contest. Great," he said.
"The band played really well. We're probably playing
better now than they were at the nationals and they are
right up there. They certainly can foot it with the bands
It wasn't placed but won the trophy for best dress and
deportment. The band was also unplaced at the world championships,
but was pleased with its performance.
"We are now at the stage where we're not practicing
all day, so the boys are getting some good recovery time
during the day and everyone is settled and starting to
Faxes to the band from Southland each day had been gratefully
received, Mr Smith said.
"Everybody really enjoys going through them when
we assemble and catching up on those at home."
The band is in Inverness this weekend before the final
week of the tattoo, which ends next Saturday.