Desert Thistle Pipe Band performs March 1 in Richland

By Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 26, 2014 

Desert Thistle Pipe Band

COURTESY DESERT THISTLE PIPE BAND

The Desert Thistle Pipe Band will give Celtic music lovers a feast of sounds at its annual concert March 1 in Richland.

The band, which formed in 1976, is changing its name to the Desert Thistle/Columbia Regional Pipe Band.

"Eventually, the Desert Thistle will be dropped from the name, but for now it's familiar, and we'll keep it as part of band's title," said Judy Morrison, a longtime bagpiper.

The regional band now includes musicians from Portland, Spokane, Western Montana, as well as the Tri-Cities.

But the music and fanfare remains the same at its concerts, Morrison said.

"We will have both Scottish Highlands and Irish traditional dancing, as well as performances by two pipe bands and a drum (performance) by drummers from both pipe bands," she said.

Showtime is 7 p.m. in the auditorium at Chief Joseph Middle School in Richland. Admission is $12 for adults and $8 for seniors and children. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at all Tri-City area Bookworm stores.

The Sir James MacDonald Youth Pipe Band from Portland are the guest performers. The band is the first, and so far only, Oregon pipe band to place at the World Pipe Band Championships, Morrison said.

The youth group will perform solo and with the regional group. Also featured again this year will be piano and guitar pieces.

"The past two years we have included a set of tunes that combines bagpipes with keyboard and guitar," Morrison said. "This nontraditional fusion of instruments allows us to create a unique sound that is both modern and innovative."

Pianist Bill McKay and guitarist Doug Rice will meld modern with traditional bagpipe music. Both also play bagpipes, but not at this concert, McKay said.

"In Celtic music, one has started to see other more traditional instruments teaming up," he said. "Pipes have even started to make an occasional appearance in rock groups. A few years back, the (Desert Thistle) band even teamed up with the Columbia Basin Concert Band."

Morrison agrees that the combination of piano, guitar and bagpipes is becoming more commonplace.

"This is a unique blend of new and old music not heard very often," she said.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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