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Pipe Band Trio prepared to go all summer if necessary

'We’ll keep doing this until we exhaust ourselves. If life it is like this all summer, we’ll do it all summer' bagpiper Lisa Hurtubise

They call themselves the Pipe Band Trio.

Since early April bagpipers Rob Sanders, Lisa Hurtubise and drummer George Winters, all proud members of North Bay Pipes and Drums, have been performing outdoors in neighbourhoods in and around the city as a way to boost people’s spirits, hoping to break the monotony of self-isolation.  

“Everybody is getting kind of depressed being in the house, not really able to go out and do what they used to do,” said Sanders.

“This way we can get them out at the end of their driveway. Some of them haven’t seen their neighbours in a very long time.  They get out and they can shout out across the yard ‘Hey how are you doing.’ It is nice to see each other again.”

Without knowing it, both Sanders and Hurtubise were playing solo in their own neighbourhoods.

See: Bagpipes lift the spirits of Jane St. residents

“The next thing you know the three of us got together. We were only doing it a couple of times at first, and before we knew it, it blew up to what it is now,” said Winters.

Sander’s wife Shannon is credited with organizing performances in the various locations.    

“There is a Facebook group called North Bay Neighbourhood Cheer. So, we ended up joining that group. Someone had put a video of us on there. When we decided to do this for the whole community, Shannon put it out there saying if you want us on your street, let us know,” explained Hurtubise.

“She got well over 200 requests which was great. It was overwhelming. So since then we post our videos. People know to go to that site to check where we’re going to be that evening. And that is how the word is getting out. I even get requests through the band email.”

The only day of the week the group does not go out to play is Wednesday.

“We do take a break once a week on Wednesdays, but that is our band practice, so we are still playing. We do our band practice virtually from our homes,” said Hurtubise.

“We went as far as the nursing home in Mattawa in the very beginning. On Saturday we went out to Powassan and Chisholm and Astorville and North Bay. Sunday, we did nine stops.”

One of Monday night’s stops included Nipissing Serenity Hospice.  

Residents listened through open windows, while some family members and friends gathered outside taking pictures and recording the performance.

Nipissing Serenity Hospice board chair Vivian Papaiz thanked the musicians for bringing “a few moments of happiness to our residents and their families.”

“During this time of physical separation, we are inspired by the efforts of these three local pipers and drummer, who bring us beauty and a moment of pause through their music in these times of stress and uncertainty,” stated Papaiz.

The trio’s songs are both heartfelt and memorable.

The group plays three to four tunes per stop, and the response is always positive.

“It has been crazy cool,” grinned Winters.

“People are more than happy. Once in a while we’ll play one of our slower tunes. We’ll play Amazing Grace in honour of the people in Nova Scotia and right after that we change the mood by bringing up a nice fast song.”

“We normally start off with the Scotland the Brave set. That is the first tune we play together,” said Hurtubise.

“Our last song is usually The Maple Leaf Forever. ”O Canada” does not fit on our pipe scale, so that is why we play The Maple Leaf Forever instead.”

Each performer gets something different out of volunteering their time.  

“It gets me out of the house, and I get to see people I don’t know in the neighbourhoods. It is neat because we hear how grateful they are. It is fun,” shared Winters.

“I like playing. I’m a musician through and through, so for me to get up and play for people is the best thing. I feel great. It is my happy place.”

For piper Lisa Hurtubise, performing creates a sense of peace.  

“It is good for my heart. It is good for my soul, just like it is for theirs to hear us. I just like spreading some really good music. It is an honour to be here at the Hospice doing this.”

Performing at the Hospice brought special meaning for Sanders.

“It reminds me a lot of my mom. She passed away a few years ago of cancer. She didn’t have a hospice, she stayed at home, but it makes me feel good that I can share something that maybe makes somebody’s sad day feel a little bit happier.”

Hurtubise says there are no immediate plans to stop the neighbourhood visits.  

“We’ll keep doing this until we exhaust ourselves. If life is like this all summer, we’ll do it all summer.”