every day you’re asked to join one of Maybole’s finest organisations on
their trip to Spain.
Band, led by Pipe Sergeant Kevin McDermott, were invited by the
organisers — Asturias Pipe Band “Esbardu” — to represent Maybole, South
Ayrshire and Scotland in the “VI Festival Inercelticu” held in Aviles,
Northern Spain from July 25 to August 5. I was lucky enough to be asked
along as an observer, and was nominated stand-in big drummer until the
band’s infamous drummer arrived. The festival has grown in stature over
the last six years, and now some of the best professional groups from
Celtic regions all over the EU participate, each demonstrating their own
musical styles, dances and costumes.
Band’s performances were enhanced by the expertise of the Aileen Robertson
School of Dancing, represented by Cheryl Campbell, Laura Kerr, Rochelle
Kerr and Claire Smith, and also the fine talents of Davie Anderson,
Maybole’s local folk singer. Combined, what finer ambassadors for Scotland
could you ask for? After a great deal of organisation and effort on the
part of Bryce McCulloch, two flights and a five-hour bus journey, we
finally arrived in the not so picturesque city of Aviles, along with our
guides for the week, Susanna and Rudolph.
glances, a comparison with the shipyards of the Clyde sprung to mind, but
like any foreign town, there was a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets,
town squares and delightful local inns awaiting. Our accommodation was
slightly less than one-star. We stayed in the local Primary school, along
with six other Celtic groups. The classrooms were used as dormitories, and
the showers were communal. This was our home for the 11 nights, our place
to sleep (as long as you didn’t fall through the slats on the bed!)
the course of the festival, the band and dancers marched and performed in
several towns around Asturias, the region in Spain, receiving critical
acclaim in several newspapers: front page news no less. ‘Scottish Day’ on
Day 5, gave the band and dancers the opportunity to really shine.
Performances in the square and shopping centre, followed by a country
dancing workshop and a one hour 15 minute performance at 9pm, attracted
crowds of nearly 500.
performance also featured Davie Anderson and Bryce McCulloch with their
unique performances on guitar and small pipes. Davie then led the band
into a rousing rendition of Flower of Scotland. Following ‘Scottish Day’
the band played at several more events, three of which really stood out.
The performance and exchanging of gifts, along with all the other Celtic
groups for the Mayor of Aviles in the Town Hall was shown live on TV.
ceremony in the Town Hall Square again combined all Celtic groups and
featured an historic re-enactment of an Asturian Battle, with Scottish
narration by Fergus Cook. But, for me, the greatest moment of all was when
Maybole Pipe Band and dancers closed the evening’s entertainment in the
Town Hall Square at 11.30pm on Day 10, to an audience of around 1,000
people, marching off stage to Scotland the Brave, and rapturous applause.
In the 12
days the band had only one day off. The weather wasn’t typical of Spain,
in fact it was the worst summer in 18 years, but we did get to the beach,
and it was spats off and brave the cold Atlantic. Maybole Pipe Band were
treated in Spain like long lost friends. I don’t doubt for a second that
this would be the case wherever they go for they are the most
entertaining, sociable and welcoming group of people I have ever met.
Strong bonds have been created with the people of Asturias, and also the
Irish Dancing group from Drogheda, and future visits to Aviles seem
likely. At every moment the band were eager to represent their culture.
extend the hand of friendship. For me, it was a pleasure to be associated
with this fine group of people.
The article above appeared in the Ayrshire Post August 30th 2002.