Bobby Pinkman, 1954-2021 / Moisture issues / The Nicol-Brown ten / Pleasanton results

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Bobby Pinkman.

Following our brief report last Thursday that Bobby Pinkman (67) had died, we are now able to provide a fuller obituary on this popular figure in the piping and pipe band scene of East Lothian, Scotland.

Robert – ‘Bobby’ – Pinkman was born in Gorebridge, a former mining village in Midlothian, Scotland on August 30, 1954 to father Archie and mother Kay, and educated at Greenhall High School in the village.

Archie was Pipe Major of Bilston Glen Pipe Band and, with other members of his family also being pipers, it was probably inevitable that piping would play a significant part in Bobby’s life. He competed in some solo competitions but it was playing in pipe bands – and in leadership roles – that he became well known and liked. Bobby played variously with Bilston Glen, the 153rd (Highland) Transport Regiment, Royal Corps of Transport, Lothian & Borders Fire Brigade, Torphichen & Bathgate and, latterly, Prestonpans.

During a chat with Bagpipe.News in February this year, Bobby related how at one time five members of the Pinkman family played in the front rank of the Bilston Glen band: his father, himself, Rab, Eddie (Rab’s dad) and Bert (Rab,’s grandfather). Three Roberts from the same family in the band at the same time and all in the same rank! We don’t think this has happened before or since.

In the 1990s, Bobby was a key member of the popular 1990s funk ceilidh outfit, The Tartan Amoebas, with whom he recorded four studio albums. Around this time he met his future wife, Tresi. In recent years the couple moved to the village of Newcastle Emlyn, in west Wales.

The Tartan Amoebas. Bobby can be seen sitting at the back in the middle.

Bobby died in Edinburgh’s Simpson’s Memorial Hospital last Wednesday (1st). Sadly, Tresi predeceased him less than a month ago. We understand a small ceremony and private cremation will be held near their home, with his ashes returning to Scotland soon after.

Lothian & Borders Fire Brigade photographed in 1977 at Hawick. Archie, Bobby’s father, was the Pipe Major at this time. He had taken the band from Grade 4 to Grade 1 in four years. Bobby can be seen standing, sixth from the left. Bobby’s half cousin, also called Robert Pinkman, also played in the band. He went on become Pipe Major of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

We again extend our condolences to Bobby’s family and friends.


Further to Dave Alton of northern Australia’s query last Wednesday on how to keep moisture in the bagpipe in hot, dry climates like his, Yahya Hussein of New York City has sent us a helpful response:

“Perhaps my past teenage summer experiences in the Sudan during the 1980s might help. Every two years my father got home leave for the summer and we’d all leave New York (where the summers are extremely humid) and spend July in southern France and later to Khartoum in August.

“Northern Sudan is a desert environment with extremely dry heat which frequently reaches 103˚F [almost 40°C ] in the shade. In those days (1987) my set up included a Canadian elk hide bag with cane drone reeds. At 16, thinking I was like camel, I played underneath a large ceiling fan despite the appalling heat, struggling and sweating like hell trying to get my practice in, or if my grandma was in a good mood I got the air conditioned room (and that was a godsend, I can tell you). That sort of solved my stop and start situation somewhat but everything was damned dry if the former wasn’t available and my father was sure I wasn’t going to run up grandma’s electric bill. Therefore, I couldn’t figure how to overcome this dry situation.


“My grandma’s servant one day came to me while I was seasoning the bag and handed me ten dry ice cubes. ‘Put this in your bag’, he suggested, ‘and the moisture should free up your reeds’. Well, I tried it and, hell, I felt I was back home in New York playing as usual. One hour, two hours! I was a man reborn. 

“It transpired that grandma’s servant played a sort of reeded Sudanese flute and encountered the same moisture problems. Despite wetting the reed in that dry climate, and being a circular breather, he told me that he put two cubes in his mouth and that as his mouth acted as a bag, would blow cold air into the reed so it wouldn’t dry it out.”

It certainly sounds plausible to us. If readers have any more thoughts please drop us a line in the usual way.


The ten pipers invited to compete for this year’s online Nicol-Brown Amateur Invitational Solo Piping Competition are:

The Nicol-Brown Chalice goes to the winner.
  • Jessica Bain, Nova Scotia;
  • Callum Bevan, British Columbia;
  • Sean Buchta, Florida;
  • Zippa Curiskis, St. Paul;
  • Trevor DeMass, Utah;
  • Scott Long, Nova Scotia;
  • Stuart Marshall, North Carolina (last year’s winner);
  • Charles-David Mitchell, Ontario;
  • Henry Paluch, Ontario;
  • Andrew Prioli, Rhode Island.

The ‘Nicol-Brown’ is for the best amateur pipers in North America and is held in memory of Robert B. Nicol and Robert U. Brown.

Invitations are based on overall rankings and competitive results in the pipers’ home associations in live contests over the winter – and/or in virtual contests through the season.

The judges will be Jenny Hazzard, Nick Hudson, Roddy MacLeod MBE and Bob Worrall.

The results should be announced on October 9.


The Caledonian Club of San Francisco’s held its annual highland games on Saturday (4th). The venue was, as ever, the Alameda County Fairgrounds, in Pleasanton, California.

The results were:

Pipe bands

Grade 3 Medley – 1. Silicon Valley Pipe Band.

Grade 4 MSR – 1. Jefferson Pipe Band; 2. Silicon Valley Pipe Band.

Grade 5 Quick March Medley – 1. Prince Charles Pipe Band; 2. City of Sacramento Pipe Band; 3. Utah Pipe Band; 4. Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Pipe Band (ensemble preference); 5. Jefferson Pipe Band.

Campbell Naismith and Ryan Murray (piping), Jamie Cuthill (ensemble) and Ed Best (drumming) judged all band contests.

Solo Piping

Grade 2 MSR – 1. Brennan Foley; 2. Malachi Johannsen; 3. Christopher Johnson; 4. Christopher Boyles; 5. Joshua Agee; 6. Ted Hales.
Judge: Glen Thompson.

Grade 2 Hornpipe/Jig – 1. Brennan Foley; 2. Christopher Boyles; 3. Christopher Johnson; 4. Malachi Johannsen; 5. Joshua Agee; 6. Ted Hales.
Judge: Glen Thompson.

Grade 2 6/8 March – 1. Christopher Johnson; 2. Brennan Foley; 3. Malachi Johannsen; 4. Christopher Boyles; 5. Joshua Agee; 6. Becky Saraceno.
Judge: Andrew Morrill.

Grade 3 2/4 March (Leet A) – 1. Chelsea Wells; 2. Olivia Siemer; 3. Gavin Guidotti; 4. Carrie Wigham; 5. Brian Neal; 6. Alexander McCormick.
Judge: Campbell Naismith.

Grade 3 2/4 March (Leet B) – 1. Alexander Lentz; 2. Gabriel Gomez; 3. Colin Thurber; 4. Karen McIlvena; 5. John Tompkins; 6. George MacDonald.
Judge: Andrew Morrill.

Photo taken in 2016.

Grade 3 Piping Strathspey/Reel (Leet A) – 1. Gavin Guidotti; 2. Gabrielle Neal; 3. Chelsea Wells; 4. Stephen Beitzel; 5. Vincent Guinnane; 6. Brian Neal.
Judge: Jamie Cuthill.

Grade 3 Strathspey/Reel (Leet B) – 1. Alexander Lentz; 2. Gabriel Gomez; 3. Colin Thurber; 4. Karen McIlvena; 5. Elise Ferrell; 6. John Tompkins.
Judge: Glen Thompson

Grade 3 6/8 March (Leet A) – 1. Gavin Guidotti; 2. Brian Neal; 3. Chelsea Wells; 4. Olivia Siemer; 5. Gabrielle Neal; 6. Carrie Wigham.
Judge: Ryan Murray.

Grade 3 6/8 March (Leet B) – 1. Gabriel Gomez; 2. Alexander Lentz; 3. Karen McIlvena; 4. Colin Thurber; 5. Elise Ferrell; 6. Andrew Murphey.
Judge: Andrew Morrill.

Grade 2 Ceòl Mòr –  1. Christopher Johnson; 2. Christopher Boyles; 3. Malachi Johannsen; 4. Karen McIlvena; 5. Ted Hales; 6. Connor Studulski.
Judge: Campbell Naismith.

Grade 3 Ceòl Mòr (Leet A) – 1. Brian Neal; 2. Gavin Guidotti; 3. Carrie Wigham; 4. Stephen Beitzel; 5. Gabrielle Neal; 6. Jay Bowdler.
Judge: Ryan Murray.

Grade 3 Ceòl Mòr (Leet B) – 1. Alexander Lentz; 2. Steven Coontz; 3. Colin Thurber; 4. Donald Saraceno; 5. Andrew Murphey; 6. Daryl Turner.
Judge: Jamie Cuthil