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Capital City Pipes & Drums Celebrates 50 Years

Anne Evans Anne Evans Capital City Pipes & Drums Celebrates 50 YearsJay Moffett, Quartermaster and bass drummer for Capital City Pipes and Drums.
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Capital City Pipes and Drums performing with the Highland Dancers at the Dublin Irish Festival in 2013. Photo by Katie Cochran.

When you think of local bands, a bagpipe band is probably not the first idea to pop into your head. However, the Capital City Pipes & Drums is a successful group for those who love bagpipe music and they are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary this weekend.

“The Capital City Pipes and Drums was founded in 1963 by bagpiper Robert “Bobby” Peters,” says Jay Moffett, Quartermaster and bass drummer for the band. “We have members that have played with Capital City for over thirty years.”

Born in Ayrshire, Scotland, Peters immigrated to the United States in 1923. He and his wife Betty settled into farming near Cambridge, Ohio.

“Bobby and his good friend and drummer, Barney, wanted to start a pipe band and they got together and made that happen in Columbus, Ohio,” says Moffett. “Bobby began teaching students here and formed the small band to march in parades. The band marched in the Shamrock Club’s St. Patrick’s Day parade that year and the following year helped establish the Shamrock Club Pipes and Drums band in 1964.”

Florence and Robert "Bobby" Peters.

Bobby Peters plays for Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear, and his wife Barbara. Photo courtesy Columbus Memory via CCPD.

Moffett joined Capital City during his college years and has played bass drum with the band for almost nineteen years.

“I was intrigued by bagpipe music as a kid,” he says. “My band tapes would wear out, and I wanted to learn more about playing. After seeing Capital City in a Fourth of July parade, I started making phone calls to the Shamrock Club and other places that might know how to contact the band -this was pre-internet, obviously.”

Moffett started taking bagpipe lessons to in order to earn a spot with the band.

“I quickly realized that despite all my saxophone lessons and playing, the pipes were going to be a tough instrument to learn,” he says.

After one of his lessons, a drummer asked him to play the bass drum in order to keep the beat for the pipe band during their practice.

Jay Moffett, Quartermaster and bass drummer for Capital City Pipes & Drums.

“A few weeks later I quit piping lessons and became the bass drummer because I had found my place and could join the band right then,” says Moffett. “I wore a borrowed kilt and began learning all I could about bass playing -teaching myself with pipe band CDs and tapes I would blast.”

Anyone interested in joining the band, at any musical level, is welcomed by Capital City Pipes & Drums. The band offers beginners’ lessons in piping and Highland Drumming, as well as lessons in Highland Dancing.

“You do not have to know how to play the bagpipes, drums, or how to dance to join.” says Moffett. “Though a knowledge of basic music reading is quite helpful,” he adds. “As a piping student progresses, we will also refer them to local professional piping instructors to assist them with learning the instrument.”

Currently twenty-five to thirty men and women perform with the pipes and drums corps, and the band has others that participate as Highland Dancers. The band has continued to perform and compete for fifty years throughout Central Ohio and at Highland Games across the Midwest, Canada, and Scotland. The competition band over the years has won at the Alma Games (Michigan), Southern Ontario Games, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky and Scotland. Capital City won best overseas band Grade 4 under Pipe Major Charlie Marlatt in 1987.

“We hope to field a competition band again in the coming years,” says Moffett. “Currently, Capital City performs over thirty gigs throughout the year at various parades, festivals, churches, weddings, and other invited engagements. We are a recognized non-profit organization and work to support Scottish and Irish music and culture through performances, lessons, and scholarships for students of the Highland Arts.”

Whenever they are performing, the band wears modern Highland Dress: kilt, jacket, vest, Glengarry (hat), hose, flashes, ghillies, sporran, belt, rain gear. Once membership to the band is given to a performer, the band issues them the uniform.

“Our kilts are made in the Ancient Hunting Sinclair tartan, chosen many years ago to honor one of our long time members and benefactors, bass drummer David Sinclair,” says Moffett. “The wool tartan material is woven in Scotland and the kilts are hand-made there as well.”

The band plays a mix of traditional and modern tunes written by pipers all over the world.

“Our newest selection is a tune written by one of our retired members, David Gettinby, in honor of our founder Bobby Peters,” says Moffett. “The tune “Bobby Peters” was written and debuted the first time for Mr. Peters on his 80th birthday over twenty-five years ago. The band has brought the tune back in honor of our 50th anniversary.”

Capital City Pipes & Drums hosts their Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration Saturday, January 11, 2014 at the Columbus Athenaeum. The Celebration will be a buffet dinner, with some historical memories of the 50 years of CCPD, performances by Capital City, Shamrock Club, Columbus Police and Fire, and Cyril Scott Pipe Bands. Tickets are $35 for adults, with a cash bar and $25 for children ages 5-12, under 5 are free. Tickets are available here.

Photos courtesy Capital City Pipes & Drums.

For more information, visit CapitalCityPipesandDrums.com.

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