Online broadcasting helps pipes and drums go global

RSPBA NI Branch press officer Gail Graham who presented the online radio programme Up to the Line
RSPBA NI Branch press officer Gail Graham who presented the online radio programme Up to the Line

NORTHERN Ireland’s pipers, drummers and drum majors have been getting global exposure thanks to some online radio broadcasting through December and into January.

FusefMRathfriland hosted a five-part series of Up to the Line which was supported by the RSPBA Northern Ireland Branch and the Branch School.

Host of the shows, which ran for two hours each Wednesday during December and into January, was NI Branch press officer Gail Graham.

“This was the second year I have presented the series of programmes but it is the first year that the Northern Ireland Branch and the Branch School have sponsored it,” explained Gail.

“The aim of the series is simple – to promote Northern Ireland’s pipe bands and drum majors to a global audience. That is why we decided that targeting an online audience was the best way forward.”

And it certainly proved to be the case with listeners tuning in from far and wide.

Gail continued: “We were really pleased to have listeners throughout the UK, Ireland and America, some even from Saudi Arabia.

“We were really delighted by the response from listeners. After the show went online last year we were getting asked when it would be back, so it was clear there was a demand for it and that has proved to be the case.”

Through the five weeks Up to the Line has provided an excellent platform for local bands and pipers and drummers not only to perform but to get their views across.

Arnold Mitchell and Roy Henning, pipe majors of world champion bands Ballybriest and Clogher and District respectively, were interviewed on their experiences of the past season as was world champion drum major Paula Braiden. However, widening the net somewhat, the programme also caught up with America travel writer Jim Williamson, from Kansas City.

Jim, who works for the Voice pipe band magazine, was a visitor to the Ulster and European pipe band championships held in the Province last year.

Gail also interviewed Scottish Power pipe major Chris Armstrong and world-renowned tenor drummer Tyler Fry, of House of Edgar Shotts and Dykehead. In addition to this there was a first for the programme as Kevin Rogers, from Kilkeel, Co Down, performed live in the studio.

Gail continued: “I was really pleased with the input from all our guests – they all brought something different – and I’m sure the listeners enjoyed hearing from them.

“During the season we made recordings of a number of bands at local contests which we played on the programme. As was a performance by Scott Wallace.”

Gail wasn’t alone in working on the programme as she was ably assisted by RSPBA NI’s public relations officer David Scott.

“Throughout the five shows I was helped greatly by David (Scott). He was well organised as usual and vital in the transition from phone to Skype – switching the different laptops we were using during the show.

“We had lots of positive feedback on this series and hopefully we can do it again,” Gail added.

n On Saturday, January 19, the Blackthorn Piping Society will be holding its first Burns/Recital Night at Dromore Rugby Football Club.

Star attraction on the night is gold medal solo piper and pipe major of Scottish Power Pipe Band Chris Armstrong.

Another attraction on the night will be a Burns Supper, including the Traditional Address to the Haggis, and Highland Ceilidh Dancing.

Doors open at 7pm with a view to starting at 7.45pm.

There are still tickets left and anyone who wants to go last minute can reserve a ticket and pick it up at the door.

Tickets, at £10, can be purchased/claimed from the society secretary on: 07812 538701 or by email,

n Some exciting news for the younger members of the piping and drumming fraternity.

Due to the huge success of the 2012 Residential Piping and Drumming School held at Bushmills in 2012, which was jointly run by the Branch and the Ulster-Scots Agency, plans are now being made for the 2013 residential which will take place from Tuesday, August 20 to Saturday, August 24.

The residential provides outdoor adventures for young pipers and drummers, a chance to improve and learn new skills in piping and drumming with that added bit of outdoor fun and team building.

Any young pipers or drummers interested in the 2013 residential please contact for further details.

n Cairncastle Ulster Scots are holding a Burns Night on Saturday, January 19 at 8pm in Larne Glasgow Rangers Club located at 2 Greenland Drive, Larne.

Music by Grousebeaters, John Trotter Group, Maghera Folk Group and Cairncastle Highland Dancers. All are welcome to come along and enjoy a wide variety of music and a celebration of the life of Rabbie Burns including an Address to A Haggis by Jimmy McKeegan.

For more information phone Bobby on 07774401935 or