Band lore reports that a now defunct Shriner band of about 20 pipers and drummers regularly participated in parades around Kalamazoo in the post World War II era up through the 1950s, according to the memories of an anonymous Kalamazoo resident who recalls that his neighbor, a Mrs. Teal or Thiel, played with the band.
|The Dr. Beaton Era
The current band began in 1964 around the piping and teaching abilities of Dr. John Beaton, a Ph.D. Chemist at the Upjohn Company, who had emigrated from Scotland in 1956. Dr. Beaton grew up piping with the Boy Scouts in Scotland and played with prominent bands including the legendary Red Hackle Pipe Band in the early 1950s. John found a willing and interested group of learners in Kalamazoo and worked with them to instill solid piping fundamentals. After meeting in the Beaton’s basement for two years, the group became part of the Portage Community Education program in 1966.Throughout the 1970s, the band participated in parades and Scottish festivals across Michigan.
In honor of Dr. Beaton, the band adopted the MacLean of Duart tartan: Dr. Beaton’s family tartan.
Following Dr. Beaton, the duties of Pipe Major fell to Jill Baird, Jack Bainbridge, and John Meek.
|The Steve MacLeod Era
After a quiet period focused on teaching rather than performance, 1995 proved to be a banner year for the band. In May, the band was invited by Senator Mike Rogers to participate in the first Memorial Day Services at the Michigan State Senate.The Kalamazoo Pipe Band has played Amazing Grace in the rotunda of the state capital every Memorial Day week since then.In August, the band return to competition at the Detroit St. Andrews Highland Games under the direction of pipe major Steven MacLeod, who previously played with Grand Rapids & District Pipe Band and Detroit St. Andrews Pipe Band.
|Since 1998, the band has participated in a variety events around southwest Michigan. That year the band welcomed the supersonic transport Concorde into Battle Creek’s W.K. Kellogg Airport.
The band hosted the Battlefield Band premier of their CD, Leaving Friday Harbor, in October 1999. The next day the band played in the extensively remodeled Kalamazoo Public Library. The band also played fundraisers to open Flesher Field and the grand opening of the Oshtemo Public Library.
The band has become a fixture at the Kalamazoo St. Patrick’s Day festivities, Kalamazoo Irish Fest, and the Kalamazoo Scottish Festival for 26 years. The band also performed at the Silver Leafe Renaissance Fair and Battle Creek’s Arcadia Brewing Celtic Christmas. The band continues to regularly perform at the Ft. Custer National Cemetery Memorial Day ceremonies, the Dowagiac Memorial Day Parade, Kalamazoo 9/11 remembrance ceremonies, area Veterans Day ceremonies, and other area events and festivals.
After the departure of Steve MacLeod, Gloria Culp, Jenny Leckrone, and Greg Huff each took on the role of Pipe Major.