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It's 'Piping Hot' at New Haven

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Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012
 

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What: Piping Hot in New Haven

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: New Haven Hose Company Social Hall, South Seventh Street, Connellsville

Cost: $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger

Information: Tickets must be purchased in advance at Truxel-Laughlin Insurance office, 319 N. Pittsburgh St., Connellsville. For more information, call 724-628-8300.

After a two-year absence, the New Haven Hose Company Pipe Band will bring back Piping Hot in New Haven.

On Saturday, the West Side of Connellsville will resound with the music of bagpipes at the special event.

"From the comments we received after the previous shows, everyone seems to find something fascinating about bagpipe music. This dinner and show is a fundraiser for the bagpipe band," said John Truxel, New Haven Hose treasurer and band drum major. The band is solely sponsored by New Haven Hose and incurs travel and competition expenses, as well as the cost for equipment and attire. One set of bagpipes averages $800, and each kilt requires five yards of wool specially made in Scotland. The plaid of the kilts with blue and gold in the weave was chosen to match New Haven's blue-and-gold uniforms.

The bagpipe band performs at about a dozen events each year, always at the Fayette and Westmoreland County firemen's conventions in the summer. The band is a part of the invitation-only July fourth celebration in Latrobe and the Fort Ligonier Days parade. It competes at Edinboro College and Idlewild Park. It has placed second through fifth in a northern Ohio competition in its classification and is striving for first place. A highlight for the group is appearing at Bud Murphy's Sports Bar and Restaurant every St. Patrick's Day.

Bagpipe bands are rare. In Pennsylvania, Seton Hill University and Duquesne University each has one. Fairmont State College in West Virginia has one, and in Pittsburgh, a bagpipe band is associated with the Pittsburgh Fire Department. However, New Haven's bagpipe band is the only one solely sponsored by a fire department.

The band was assembled in 1992 when members of New Haven decided that they wanted a unit to march behind. So six men -- John Truxel Sr., John Truxel Jr., Sam Spotto Jr., Sam Spotto III, Vinny Traynor and Lee Yates -- volunteered to learn. A.G. Lee, who is now the director of the Seton Hill bagpipers, came in every Tuesday night for two years to instruct them.

"We're still learning. The group has changed in some ways. Sam Spotto III is on drums. I am the drum major," Truxel said. "The whole thing takes a lot of practice. People might think it's easy, but there is one octave and nine notes. It's like wrestling an octopus. There is a constant stream of air -- that's what makes it so difficult. Three drones, bass and two tenors, the chanter plays melody and the only way to separate the same note if you want to play it twice, is to use a quick movement of breath, a chip note, with one or two keys in use. The music must be memorized because there is nowhere to place a lyre to hold it."

New Haven Hose Company Pipe Band members come from all over Western Pennsylvania. The roster includes: Scott Hamilton, pipe major; Denny Divens, pipe sergeant; Reanna Allison, Kim Etling Lee, Joe Gaut, Rich Horn, Brian Kosoglow, Mark Merriman, Rocco Marusco, Sam Spotto Jr., Vinny Traynor and Pam Wallace. The drummers are Kathy Hamilton, drum sergeant, and Frank Butala and Sam Spotto III. June Spotto is tenor drummer and Rob Allison is bass drummer. John Truxel is the drum major.

Piping Hot in New Haven will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday in New Haven Hose Company Social Hall on South Seventh Street. The evening will include singing, Scottish dancing, Burns readings and, of course, piping and drumming and entertainment for everyone to enjoy. The dinner will include chicken, parsley potatoes, green beans, shepherd's pie, pasta, tossed salad, shortbread, scones, coffee, iced tea and lemonade. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. Tickets must be purchased in advance at Truxel-Laughlin Insurance office, 319 N. Pittsburgh St., Connellsville. For more information, call 724-628-8300.

Additional Information:

At a glance

What: Piping Hot in New Haven

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: New Haven Hose Company Social Hall, South Seventh Street, Connellsville

Cost: $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger

Information: Tickets must be purchased in advance at Truxel-Laughlin Insurance office, 319 N. Pittsburgh St., Connellsville. For more information, call 724-628-8300.

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