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The pipes, the pipes are calling

Brian Wood is hoping to bring the Cameron Pipe Band back to its heyday.

Red tartan-kilted bagpipers and drummers have added ceremonial gravitas or a carnival atmosphere to Broken Hill’s parades and events for decades and the Cameron Pipe Band is once again looking for new learners.

“Tenor drums are similar to our snare drums but slightly more round and they’re renowned for the way the drummers twirl their sticks,” said Brian Wood, who has been a band member since 1954.
“Some teachers of drumming for rock bands have sent their students along to learn stick handling.”

“We have a lad that’s just come to Broken Hill to live, who’s a tenor drummer, and he’s happy to teach.”

Mr Wood is of Scottish heritage and explained the ‘Caledonian’ connection, which is a name or geographical term relating to Scotland or the Scottish Highlands.

“Alot of the Caledonian bands were attached to the Caledonian societies,” said Mr Wood.

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“Most of the original pipers played in the Broken Hill Caledonian Pipe Band.”

The Cameron Pipe Band formed a little before its first performance in 1952 and the name ‘Cameron’ came about because of the tartan that band members picked for their kilts.

“’Cameron of Lochiel’ is the tartan that the Cameron band has always worn,” said Mr Wood.

“The first lot of kilts was from Scotland and the second was from Melbourne.

“The band originally wore khaki trousers, spats and tartan ties while they were raising funds for their kilts.”

From the mid-1960s, Mr Wood taught bagpipes to a band at the Police Boys Club before it became a youth club.

The Cameron Pipe Band has lent its distinctive sound to enliven parades, school events, markets and private functions and Mr Wood was teaching bagpipes at Broken Hill High School just before COVID.

However, a very important role has been in ANZAC Day services, where the band played for nearly 50 years until the 2000s.

“It doesn’t matter if it was one piper or two pipers or what,” said Mr Wood.

“They’ve always turned up on ANZAC Day.”

The band has never charged a hiring fee, even when members played at three or four engagements in a single day.

“We believe that we’re a band that is community minded and we are there for the organisations of Broken Hill,” said Mr Wood.

“By not charging, people knew we didn’t charge and we got the support of the community if we needed fundraising.”

The call-out is for anyone aged from year five and above.

“If we can gain one student from each of the primary schools in Broken Hill, it would give us enough pipers to form a band,” said Mr Wood.

Age is no barrier to joining the pipe and drum band.

“A former student was in in his 50s when he decided to learn the bagpipes,” said Mr Wood.

“You could hear him along the Cockburn Road.

“He’d go out of town to practice.”

The band is still practicing in the Cameron Pipe Band Hall, which is located over the train line and past the right turn at Saint John’s Hall, and more information is available from Brian Wood on 0412 748 737.

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