CENTRAL POINT — Performing their final live gig before venturing to Scotland for an international competition, the Jefferson Pipe Band is hopeful their legion of fans will show up this week for a little game that most musicians like to call “pass the hat.”
After deciding two years ago that they’d participate in the 2017 World Pipe Band Championships, held every August in Glasgow since 1930, the group has focused on fundraising — and, said group member Dion Williams of Grants Pass, practicing one set of tunes more than any of the group's 30 members ever imagined was humanly possible.
Named for the mythical state of Jefferson, the Jefferson Pipe Band has members ranging in age from 12 to the mid-70s and hailing from Northern California and Southern Oregon. The band set out two years ago to raise more than $50,000 and, Williams said, they’re now darned close.
He estimated they’re within the final $5,000 of their fundraising goal.
“We’ve really focused everything we’ve got on this one big event,” he said. "We’ve doubled up on practice times and been so focused on raising money. We’ve really not thought about anything other than this for almost two years now.
“We’ve never spent this much time on much of anything, much less the same set of tunes!”
In addition to playing their hearts out for Independence Day this Tuesday in the Central Point Fourth of July parade, which starts at 9:30 a.m., the group will be hosted later that day by downtown’s The Point Pub and Grill, 311 East Pine St..
“They’ve opened the back part of the facility for us to have a final fundraiser jam session so the band will play from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until someone begs us to stop,” Williams said.
“If anyone wants to hear us play or support our trip, that would be a really good way to help us out.”
The group is also accepting donations online at www.gofundme.com/6898rtqs.
To date, Williams said, he’s heard of no other bagpipe groups from the region that have ever ventured to the international playoff, where this year they’ll be one of 220 group competing.
“It’s a pretty big deal to go to worlds. We hope to make it, not necessarily an annual event, but a regular event. A lot of bands strive for every two years. That might be a little ambitious for us at this point but it also depends on how well we do.”
He added, “For most of us, just going once is the trip of a lifetime.”
Williams said the group is set to leave around Aug. 1.
This week’s final jam session, aside from needed funds, will give them a final chance to play for their local fans for a proper sendoff.
“At this point, we’re going no matter what,” Williams said.
“Did we raise enough to pay for the whole trip? No. Everybody will have some out-of-pocket costs. But we wouldn’t miss it.”
For more information, see http://www.jeffersonpipeband.org.
— Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at email@example.com.