There is periodic discussion of non-traditional kilts on the forums to which I belong. Lately, someone posed the question, Have you seen anyone compete solo wearing a Utilikilt? I usually comment on these threads, since, unlike the majority of pipers, I regularly wear both traditional and non-traditional kilts.
Many pipers (or at least, the vocal ones) do not like the Utilikilt. I have seen it disparagingly called an Extremetoolbelt and also a Potato Sack. Funny thing is, I don’t think the makers and wearers of the UK would really care – in fact, they would probably think it was funny. I know I did.
But, since the question posed referred to playing in a competition setting, I thought these pictures might be helpful. Imagine you are a judge and one of these three pipers has just stepped up to play his tunes for you. Who will you pick?
I watched Ace of Cakes last night on the Food Network. This is a great show, about a funky cake-making company, Charm City Cakes,with a cool owner, Duff Goldman.
Last night Duff was commissioned to make a Scottish-themed cake, so he chose a Highland Cow. The cake looked like a million dollars (probably was) and, to add to the atmosphere, Duff had a piper come to the bakery to play for the staff. (He hired Ian Coletti, of the City of Washington Pipe Band – Ian acquitted himself very well, and even offered a positive opinion on the cake!)
Then Duff kilted up for the remainder of the day and delivered the cake bekilt. I have to say, having watched the show, that the kilt Duff hired for the occasion was probably designed for a taller person. From the moment I started watching the show, I thought Duff would be a prime candidate for a Utilikilt. He sometimes wears a black chef jacket and a Utilikilt would look excellent with it.
If he does go for the Utilikilt, Duff should measure himself carefully. Remember, if it goes past your knees, it’s just a skirt
When I play solo I wear the Macfie tartan. I am a Macfie.
Although I inherited my Finnish surname from my father’s family, my mother’s family is all scottish and the Macfies of Colonsay were her father’s ancestors.
The Macfies (or MacPhies and other variant spellings) lived on the Island of Colonsay until the early 17th century. After they were ejected from the island (following dark deeds and collusion with the pro-English King of Scotland by a so-called friend of the clan) the clan dispersed all over Scotland and many emigrated. There are now Macfies all over the World.
So now I am on a mission to find Macfie tunes and connections in piping. There is a piobaireachd called The Rout of the Macphees. I have a recording of Donald MacLeod playing it on the practice chanter. There is a 6/8 march called Donald Macphee’s March. Donald Macphee himself (prominent piper – mid 19th century) compiled a collection of tunes. Not sure if any are actually written by him.
So, the search goes on. If any Macfies out there read this and can help – Hello, and let me know!
Yet another person comes face to face with the Utilikilt and cannot understand it.
We went to check out a new fitness center yesterday. I was wearing my new Utilikilt. Mister oh-so-cocky membership salesman was curious:
What on earth is that you’re wearing?
It’s a Utilikilt
He was still unsure:
But what is it?
I explained, patiently. It’s an American take on the Scottish kilt.
Man, I’d get my ass kicked if I wore something like that.
My wife asked him if he was planning to kick my ass.
He assured me that he was not. I gave him a card, but we didn’t join the fitness center and I don’t expect to see him in a Utilikilt anytime soon.
With lightning speed, my new Utilikilt arrived from Seattle Thursday. Of course, I have worn it every day since. It might even be helping to scare up some business.
My kids persuaded me to take them to a gross fast food restaurant. The staff commented on my accent and my kilt, but did not ask me to leave. (Hey, Salt Lake City is the home of the Denny’s that made diversity training a national issue in cheap food chains.)
A nervous woman approached me. Had I scared her kids?
No – she wanted to know if, by chance my kilt was American (yes, 100%, I told her) and where did I get it? Since the kilt had arrived that day, it still had a handful of Utilikilt business cards in the pocket, so I gave her one. I also gave her a few of my Drive-by Piper cards. Turns out her friend is getting married soon and would “really like a piper at her wedding”.
Good things happen when you wear the kilt.
To be correct you should wear a kilt.
But to be cool, you should wear a Utilikilt.
I got my first Utilikilt about 3 years ago at the end of a summer of nightly Ben and Jerry’s consumption. The kilt is for sure cool, but has never really fit me and finally I gave up the procrastination and called Seattle yesterday.
Speaking to the people at Utilikilts is always entertaining.
Nick (Utilikilt guy):
“What size do you need?”
Marc (Drive-by Guy):
“Did you measure yourself like it says on the website?”
“No, I just subtracted 4 inches from my old Utilikilt”
“Four inches? Four inches? Jesus Christ man, you got a tapeworm or something?”
“I just stopped eating ice cream every night, and started playing the bagpipes.”
Nick told me well done and they’ll ship it tomorrow.
I will be cool once again.