Bagpipes and Dhol in Vancouver: Moving the music East

Recently I published a post about an evening I spent with fellow bagpiper and former Triumph Street Pipe Band member Donald MacMillan.  We were involved with a pub crawl in downtown Vancouver celebrating the birthday of the great Nova Scotia brewmaster Alexander Keith. Donald was a member of the TSPB during its heyday as a leading grade one pipe band not only in North America, but also the world.  Under the leadership of P/M Hal Senyk and L/D William McErlean, Triumph Street placed 5th in Grade 1 at the 1979 World Pipe Band Championships and was the first band outside of Scotland to win a major prize when it won “The Sash” for best drum corps.

Donald’s competition days are now behind him and while he did take a break from the pipes, he’s back at it but in a very different form. Following some prompting from a colleague at his work, he has formed a band that incorporates bagpipes with the Punjabi dhol (drum).  His band, Celtic Bhangra, plays at Indian weddings and is becoming very popular in the Lower Mainland of B.C. The music is infectious and the dhol nicely compliments the sound of the pipes. In fact, as you will hear in this video, Donald has taken some of the Punjabi music and adapted it for the bagpipes, as he does with this popular Punjabi wedding song.

Celtic Bhangra video

About Mike Chisholm

Bagpiper, writer, fisherman and father born and raised in Nova Scotia, now living in Vancouver area.

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