New Celtic Music Hall of Fame members
For Kahlil Cappuccino, being inducted into the Glengarry Celtic Music Hall of Fame on Friday evening at the Bonnie Glen Pavilion was a bit like coming full circle.
According to his friend, Bruce McCuaig, who introduced him at Friday’s ceremony, it was at that very same building where Mr. Cappuccino first played with a pipe band.
In any case, that long ago performance kickstarted a 30-plus year tenure in the competitive pipe band world. He got his start as a bass drummer with The Glengarry Pipe Band, saw it ascend the ranks from a Grade 4 band to a brief stop at Grade one, and helped the band win numerous provincial and national championships.
Over that time, he has also played with the Canadian Forces Composite Pipe Band and the 78th Highlanders Halifax Citadel Pipe Band. With the latter, he has one “Best Bass Section” three times as well as the North American Open Bass Champion and the Midwest Highland Arts Fund gold medal.
Despite these accomplishments, Mr. Cappuccino admitted to feeling embarrassed about his induction.
“I feel like I am accepting this under false pretenses,” he said during his address to the packed house. “I’m being honoured for something I love doing; it’s hard for me to square that circle.”
In his speech, he spoke passionately about his love for pipe bands.
“When I play, I lose myself in the music and I don’t want to be found,” he said. “I am lucky to have met so many people and to have had so many experiences.”
Mr. Cappucicno was just one of four inductees who were officially granted entrance into the hall on Friday. The others were The Clansmen, Gilbert Young, and the late Bill Vipond, who was represented by his son, John.
For his part, John Vipond said that it was “overwhelming” to have his father recognized 43 years after his unfortunate drowning.
He said he always remembered his father singing, whether it was at church, out in the fields, driving around in his truck or simply performing on stage.
“He really enjoyed the classic Scottish tunes but he also liked country music,” he said. “I remember the 8-track players with tapes by Elvis and Johnny Cash. He really enjoyed the different genres.”
Mr. Vipond’s sister, Deirdre, who came out from Halifax just for the occasion, also has fond memories of her dad.
“Every night after supper, he would go into the front room and play his accordion and sing,” she recalls. “We’d all go in and join him. Music was such a big part of our lives.”
Bill Vipond was raised on a farm in Summerstown, where he began to sing in the Salem Church choir. Soon, he found himself singing at weddings and eventually moved on to opening for the Oshawa Highland Games. In the late 1960s, he formed a band called The Tartans, for whom he sang until his untimely death on May 12, 1976 shortly after his 35th birthday.
Vankleek Hill’s Gilbert Young was also among the inducted. The 77-year-old piper, who says he fell in love with the instrument when he was only five, was nominated by Donaldson MacLeod for his work as Director of Bands for the Glengarry Highland Games.
“This is an honour,” Mr. Young said shortly before induction ceremony got underway.
“There are a lot of talented people [who entered the hall] before me. My father, Coral, was inducted as a member of the Glengarry Strathspey & Reel Society in 2008.”
Mr. Young, who attended the ceremony with his daughter, Trudy, said that as a young lad growing up in Harrington, PQ, it wasn’t very often that he got to hear the pipes.
“In those days, I only heard them once a year – at the July 12 picnic for the King William Orange Society,” he said. “They used to bring a group of pipers up from Montreal for it.”
In 1948, Mr. Young attended the first Glengarry Highland Games and were further mesmerized by the sound of the pipes.
He began to study the instrument and then, in 1954, he joined the Harrington Kilmar Pipe Band. As Pipe Major, he took this band onto the field to compete in Grade Three in 1957, 1958, and 1959 at the Maxville Games. Over the years, he also played with the Campbell Harrington, RCAF Rockcliffe Grade One band, and as Pipe Sergeant of the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Bands.
Finally, the Clansmen were also inducted on Friday evening and there were a number of former members in attendance.
One of them was Rob Taylor, one of the original members, who started out with the group in 1973.
“I played the accordion,” he said. “I only played with them for a couple of years but I very honoured that I will play with them tonight.”
Mr. Taylor says he had to quit the band because he had a young family he needed to care for, though he confesses that he soon got involved with another singer named Brian McDonell, with whom he later helped found The Brigadoons.
The Clansmen’s popularity grew beyond Glengarry
Another former member, Dave McCormick of Cornwall, joined the group in 1978 and played with them for five years.
When The Clansmen were formed in 1973, they were under the direction of Sylvester MacDonald.
They were one of the very few Scottish dance bands in Glengarry and soon they were getting calls from larger centres in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and the USA from people looking for talented Celtic bands.
By the mid 1970s and 1980s they were so popular that they sometimes performed every day for weeks on end.
They eventually put out two recordings, The Clansmen in 1976 and At Your Request in 1982.
The other original members include John (Jack) Job, Jackie Smith, Lyle MacMillan, Rene Fleury. Other members were Thwyla McDonald, Clara MacLeod, June Burke, Mike Johnston, and Bryon Haley.
HALL INDUCTION: The Glengarry Celtic Music Hall of Fame inducted four new members on Friday evening at the Bonnie Glen Pavilion. Shown above, from left, are John Vipond (representing his father, Bill), Kahlil Cappuccino, Gilbert Young, and Dave McCormick, representing The Clansmen.