A valley resident for over 30 years

Local bagpiper and band blow their way to victory

A Kootenay band featuring a local bagpiper recently took home some hardware from a major competition.

Kootenay band featuring a local bagpiper recently took home some hardware from a major competition, slipping ahead of big city-based bands.

The considerable musical talent of local bagpiper Pieter Jansen is well-known to many Upper Columbia Valley residents in no small part because of Mr. Jansen’s habit of frequently playing his pipes along Lake Windermere’s western shore line, off Westside road, in the evening with the serenade completely audible not only in Invermere but also clear across the other side of the lake in Windermere.

When not lofting tunes out over the water, Mr. Jansen is usually playing with the Kimberley Pipe Band, which has been around since 1927 and a few weeks ago earned the Top Band award at the Kamloops Spring Fling, barely edging out the Vancouver City Police Pipe Band.

“Competition (at the Fling) was fierce as the Nelson Pipe Band performed their rendition of Swan Lake. Picture a bunch of overweight, age-40-plus men wearing white socks, white underpants, white tutus and white muscle shirts doing a ballet. They took second,” said Mr. Jansen  “These competitions (particularly the after-dinner skits) can get pretty wild and outrageous with little in the way of boundaries.”

The Fling competition was spread across Friday, May 2nd, Saturday, May 3rd and Sunday, May 4th and included a dress and deportment competition, a medley competition and an after-dinner skit competition.

The Kimberly band performed a sailors’ hornpipe for the medley and did a sort of Scottish version of Monty Python’s Lumberjack song for the skit.

The win came as something of a surprise for the Kimberley pipers, given that they play mainly for fun, according to Mr. Jansen.

“The band is more of a show band then a competitive band and performs mainly in the Kootney region, Montana and Washington, although we have done across Canada tours,” he said. “It was great to win. I haven’t won an award with the band before.”

The Kimberley pipers practice together once a month, although all of the 18 pipers and 10 drummers in the band practice plenty on their own, according to Mr. Jansen.

“It’s not just blowing a bag up and wiggling your fingers, there’s actually a lot to it,” he said.

Mr. Jansen has been playing with the Kimberley Pipe Band for six year. He started playing bagpipes as a kid, quit when he was 22 years old, and then took it up again when he was 55.

The band’s next show is this weekend’s Blossom Festival in Creston. Visit blossomfestival.ca for details.