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In 1916, Flint Scottish Pipe Band brought new immigrants together. Today, friends keep it alive.

Feb 22, 2017

For over a hundred years, the Flint Scottish Pipe Band has celebrated the Scottish highlands in mid-Michigan. It is the oldest pipe band in the state of Michigan, and the eleventh oldest in the nation. 

Take a listen:

Stateside spoke to pipe major Dennis Lowe and piper Rob Tripp about the legacy of the pipe band in Flint and their upcoming “ceilidh," a Gaelic word for party.

The band was founded in 1916 when the Clan MacKenzie, a society that helped settle Scottish immigrants, sponsored the band. During that time, Flint saw an influx of Scottish immigrants who took jobs in factories.

“Most of these men that came to this country were coming because they were tradesmen. There wasn’t a lot of work in the old country,” Lowe said. “They came here looking for a better life, just like immigrants today.”

The Flint Scottish gave new immigrants a way to make friends, connect with their homeland, and become involved in the local community. The Clan MacKenzie also served as a safety net; members paid into a fund that supported families when they were injured or sick.

“It had to be a really, really powerful thing for them,” Tripp said, “because they are working in a different world, in the new auto industry plants.”

During World War II, many members of the band received deferments because of their factory work.

“But they had to be in the military, so they joined the home guard, which is the predecessor of our national guard,” Tripp said. “And they had a pipe band! Guess what, it was the Flint Scottish.”

Some members of the band have been involved for three or four generations.

The Flint Scottish will celebrate its Flint history this Saturday at the Winter Ceilidh. (Again, “ceilidh” is the Gaelic word for a party with dancing and music.) Find details here.

Listen to the full interview above.

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