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Prince George Pipeband hosting Robbie Burns night

Come out for some neeps and tatties as the Prince George Pipe Band hosts a Robbie Burns pub night on Thursday, Jan. 25 at OM Cafe Bar.
The Prince George Pipe Band is hosting a Robbie Burns pub night on Thursday, Jan. 25 at OM Cafe Bar.

There’s going to be piping, drumming and Highland dancing, traditional songs sung and just some good ol’ Scottish fun to be had during the Prince George Pipe Band’s Robbie Burns pub night on Thursday, Jan. 25 at the OM Café Bar.

Pipe Major Marvin Hawke, who has been playing the bagpipes for 50 years, said the event is not to be missed because it’s just good fun.

“I’ve been playing the bagpipes for longer than anything else in my life,” Hawke said.

He got started at 12 years old because in his family, that included six children, everyone had to play an instrument.

“One day I’m standing on the side of the road, watching a parade and marching past me is the pipe band,” Hawke recalled his childhood in Saskatchewan.

“I turned to my mom and said ‘gee, Mom, I’d like to play one of those’ and it wasn’t long after that we got moved to Prince George and the Welcome Wagon lady’s husband was a bagpipe player.”

Most people think it would be a hard to learn to play that complicated-looking instrument.

“I had to get immersed in it and give it a bit of a shot,” Hawke said about learning to play. “It’s nice to learn the skills when you’re younger because we get lots of mature folks who want to learn the pipes but it can be difficult to get your fingers moving when you’re older – in spite of the wisdom and everything else that goes along with age.”

But it’s always fun playing the pipes, he added.

“It puts you at the front of the line all the time.”

When it comes to parades and Hawke added that the bagpiper is the one that announces all the dignitaries and politicians that enter special events.

Hawke takes care of his hands so he can continue to play the bag pipes and also plays the small pipes and shuttle pipes, he said.

“The members of the PG Pipe Band are very engaging and some of the members are ones I started with,” Hawke said about what keeps him going. “And that makes a real tight-knit group of friends that stay together, practicing their art.”

COVID-19 affected pretty much every aspect of the world, and the Prince George Pipe Band did not go unscathed.

“Some people who were on the fringe left the band – everybody has a life and they all have families and have other things to do - so we probably have a dozen people all in if we have good day but very seldom do we get everybody out,” Hawke said.

But when it comes to celebrating Robbie Burns at the OM Café Bar, the pipe band will be out in full force to have some fun.

“We want to sing some songs and play lots of bagpipes, there’s some Highland dancers who will be there and it’s just to get the band going and say ‘hey you guys, let's have some fun and do something different,” Hawke said. “It’s January and nobody’s got anything else to do – we might be going through the after Christmas blues – and this might just be the event that gets people out to have a little fun, eat some Haggis and listen to the bagpipes.”

PG Pipe Band invites everyone out to enjoy some haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes).

There’s no cover charge and the event starts at 6:30, with th toast to the haggis at 7 p.m. at OM Cafe Bar, 1790 Ospika Boulevard on Thursday, Jan. 25.

Reservations are strongly recommended by calling 250-562-9888.