The Greater Scranton Black Diamonds Pipe Band has been entertaining crowds for almost 20 years with its bagpipes, drums, color guard, and synchronized marching.
For the last four years, Jim George has been the group’s business manager — and one of its drummers. He recently spoke to the Independent Gazette about the pipe band, relaying that the Black Diamonds are a very talented group of musicians, ranging in age from 17 to 72, and hailing from many different towns throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. All potential members must audition before joining. However, if you possess an interest but lack experience, the band offers instruction in all disciplines to anyone willing to learn. For just ten dollars per week, you can take lessons from a senior member! The Black Diamonds practice every Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Eagle Hose Company, 1 Eagle Lane in Dickson City, and encourage anyone interested to come watch, to get a feel for the group.
Most of the music played is Irish and Scottish, but George told the Gazette that advanced members know rarer tunes, and will even bring original work to the group’s “jam sessions.” The musicians come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, not everyone is Irish or Scottish. However, George quipped, “Put a kilt on, and everyone is pretty much the same.” While marching, the group assumes the discipline of a Buckingham Palace guard, but George reveals that when off duty, those involved are actually a very laid-back bunch.
And the band doesn’t only perform in parades and bars — it can also be hired for weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries, heritage dinners . . . just about any sort of event. George noted that once it was even hired for a “just because” Friday night surprise!
The Greater Scranton Black Diamonds Pipe Band will be marching again in this year’s Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade, which begins at 11:45 a.m. on March 15. You can catch all the bagpipe bands warming up before the parade begins, which, George added, is a great time to get a photo of the members (or even with the members). Another way to hear the bands featured in the parade is to attend the Scranton Cultural Center’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with free admission.
For other opportunities to catch the Black Diamonds performing in upcoming events, including the Greater Pittston St. Patrick’s Parade and the Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick’s Day Parade, find the group’s Facebook page by searching on the social networking site for “Greater Scranton Black Diamonds Pipe Band.” To contact the band, inquire about lessons, or to book them for events, visit their website at www.BlackDiamondsPipeBand.com.
Image courtesy of Greater Scranton Black Diamonds Pipe Band