Theres no fashion statement more daring than the traditional Scottish kilt.
Amid the plethora of country and punk metal acts that populate Wichitas music scene, a thriving community of Scottish bagpipers and drummers, the Wichita Caledonian Pipes and Drums, plays on, kilts and all.
The ladies always say they like men in kilts, said bagpiper Jeff Fetter, who has been playing with the group for six years.
Fetter and his fellow pipers and drummers will travel to Philadelphia this week to participate in an Independence Day parade on Friday, the third time the group has been invited to play on the East Coast in four years.
We certainly dont go into it lighthearted, said Rob Farmer, a drummer in the band. We feel to a certain extent we are representing Wichita and Kansas.
We want to represent well so people dont think of us just as dragging horse-drawn trailers.
Since its founding in 2006, the band has performed at services at the Kansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial and the Law Enforcement Memorial, in addition to weddings, funerals and various parades across the region. It is usually booked for St. Patricks Day festivities as well, Farmer said.
Everybody loves pipers on St. Pattys Day, which is wonderfully ironic, Farmer said. Thats most peoples day to be Irish, and we play Highland Scottish music.
Members of the group give free lessons every Thursday night before practices start. The group normally meets at 5:30 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Center, 332 E. First St.
People from 14 to 68 years old play in the band.
When you play the pipes, you play them for a long time, Fetter said.
Fetter said the reception the group gets is sometimes mixed.
You either love bagpipe music or you hate bagpipe music, Fetter said. The people that hate it usually stay home.
What we have are the people that love us. They think were the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Farmer said the band recognizes that bagpipe tunes can all sound similar after a while. Consequently, the band tries to vary performances with traditional marches and jigs in conjunction with modern music and solos.
Were trying to keep it entertaining beyond the novelty of a dude in a kilt, Farmer said. Its actually intriguing music.
The band raises funds for its trips, primarily through a St. Patricks Day 5K run at Old Cowtown Museum. Though it will cost roughly $23,000 to bring about 20 people along for the Philadelphia trip, Farmer said hes confident the group will muster up the cash.
We will somehow come up with enough dough to get to the coast, Farmer said.