The phrase "local band" is almost a synonym for short-lived. Bands these days seem to be composed of a sparingly talented group of youngsters who met in metal shop or rehab and are known as "The Screaming Death Tobaggans" for a few fleeting weekends, their gig dates buried deep in a couple of City Pages club ads. They break up, regroup, splinter, and usually fade into ordinary life- decades from now their kids may never have known their mommy or daddy was a musician. But there's another kind of local band. The members are either seasoned professionals or learning students, the performance attire requires shoes and brass polish, and there's been no monkeying around with the name for thirty-eight years. Which, when you think about it, is really a drop in the bucket when you realize they play instruments that have been around for upwards of three thousand years. This is the culture of the bagpiper, and the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band is the upper midwest's most senior ambassador to this unique world of sacred music and just -as-sacred traditions. Established in 1961 by accomplished pipers, it continues week by week and year by year with some of those original members, many newer members and even the children of original members. The uniform is the same- a saffron kilt (tartan is for the Scots) and black wool short jacket. Some of the pipers sport original buttons from the Irish troops who participated in the Easter Uprising of Dublin in 1916. The music is largely the same- lively jigs, triumphant marches, familiar airs and wrenching ballads, but each generation has added both newer and less well-known historic pipe tunes to keep everyone on their toes. Some of the pipes themselves are old and ornate, some are new and shiny, but all play the same nine notes held aloft by the wail of the three drones. The combination of these twelve elements can create, in the right hands and lips, the fearsome shriek of the war pipes or the keening moan of a love lost. Training those hands and lips to create such magic is another story, however. These days it falls to Pipe Major John McCormick to mold the next generation of brave but few bagpipers. The Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band offers free lessons to entice men and women to take on the not-inconsiderable challenge of learning the bagpipes. Many have attended classes over the years and have stayed, bearing the complaints of loved ones and neighbors (amplifiers, hah!), and eventually overcoming the frustration involved in learning the temperamental and high-maintenance instrument. The reward, after all, is not just beautiful music, but an immeasurable connection to one's Irish roots. If you remember something when you're downtown next Wednesday, remember this: the pipers were there even before good Saint Patrick was. So, in its quiet way (well, maybe quiet is the wrong word), the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band continues on its historic path. You'll see them heavily this month in Saint Paul, Minneapolis and greater Minnesota, but also throughout the performance season at various games, fairs, parades and festivals. Don't miss them, but if you do, I'm pretty sure they'll be doing it again next year. Comment on this entry” - Ari McKee

— Article originally appeared in the Irish Gazette.