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Laddsburg Father and Son Peforming with Highlanders at Wyalusing Parade

When it comes to a father and son who enjoy doing things together, Laddsburg residents Lee Crawford and his 16-year-old son Justin have an unusual bond.

They both enjoy playing bagpipes.

Justin puts it this way: "Some guys go fishing," he says with a big smile, "but I tell people that my dad and I are going to put on our dresses and go out and play music."

Justin, who's been playing bagpipes for two and half years, says it was his father's interest in piping that inspired him.

And it was Lee Crawford, a former resident of Langhorne, PA who moved to Laddsburg 11 years ago, who taught his son to play.

Both Lee and Justin will be performing with the Penn-York Highlanders at next Wednesday's Wyalusing's firemen's parade. And it's likely the band will continue its tradition of playing at the beer tent after the parade.

A Celtic pipe band formed in 1957, the Highlanders is one of the oldest active pipe bands in North America. The band's name points to the fact that its members are drawn from both sides of the Pennsylvania-New York border and is headquartered in "hill country" reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands.

The band's nickname, "Ladies from Hell," is military in origin and was given to the Scottish Highland regiments during World War I by the Germans, who quickly discovered that in battle there was nothing effeminate about soldiers who fought in kilts.

Another local area piper, Joan Cashin of Wyalusing, who's learning to play bagpipes, had hoped to be ready for next week's parade, but was sidelined by shoulder surgery.

Paul Webb, Jr., son of Wyalusing physician Dr. Paul Webb, also performs with the Highlanders. He was one of Lee's students.

Lee says bagpipes can cost from $600 to over $10,000 for a quality antique instrument.

Most people who devote themselves to learning to play and practice regularly can learn to play bagpipes, Lee said. But some people can never master the mechanics of pumping the pipes with their arm and blowing out a melody at the same time.

If you think you'd like to give bagpiping a try, give Lee a call at 570-363-2390.

All of the music Lee and Justin play when performing with the Penn-York Highlanders must be committed to memory because there's no place on bagpipes to place sheet music, Lee says. So they've memorized a repertoire of 35-40 songs.

Justin says for him one of the hardest things to learn when performing with the Highlanders was keeping in step while marching with the band.

The Highlanders are the traditional leaders of the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Scranton, which is one of the largest in the nation. They also are one of the highlights at Binghamton's St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Over the years, the band, which averages 14 members clad in the Royal Stewart tartan and playing an ever-expanding repertoire of traditional Gaelic tunes, has won numerous honors, including the distinction of playing before the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic.

Lee and Justin perform some 22 times a year with the Highlanders. The group formerly limited membership to those 21 years of age or older but has since changed that rule, opening the door for Justin and other young players.

Lee also performs by himself at weddings and other special events, but both he and Justin say that performing with the Highlanders is what they enjoy most, and best of all, they enjoy it together.

"It's just something we enjoying doing together that's not your typical father-son thing," Lee says. Justin agrees, "it's something I really enjoy doing with my dad."

Next Wednesday's parade is one of the highlights of Wyalusing's firemen's carnival, Bradford County's largest, which opens Tuesday, Aug. 10 and runs through Saturday night, August 14.

The carnival features something for everyone most every night including live music, a spectacular fireworks display Friday night, a Saturday car show, games, rides, delicious food and more.

The Penn-York Highlanders' performance in Wyalusing is sponsored by the Rocket-Courier.

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