Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo Media Launch

The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo had their Media Launch day on May 27th and posted this video of introductions from most of the performing groups attending this year’s Tattoo.  MCV’s spot is near the end of the video.

Enjoy the video!

George March, Fifer/MCV Webmaster

MCV am mym Rhy

Fifers warming up next to Rhine RiverIt is hard to believe that our farewell party in Basel was just two weeks ago.  MCV’s experience in the Basel Tattoo was phenomenal and we all miss our friends and the city of Basel itself. There were many experiences during our two week stay that I could write a book about, but this post will try to list just a few of my favorite moments.



MCV’s daily warm-up routine:  tuning up in the Kaserne was too noisy (tho we did do so during some of the rainy nights) so MCV headed down to the Rhine River, which was literally steps away from the venue.  The fifers took up residence on the pedestrian path with the drummers a bit further down under some shade trees.  We often ended up surrounded by dozens of passers by that stopped to see what the heck was going on! This was a knowledgeble audience and it was reassuring to receive such positive feedback from the locals.
MCV drummers warming up There is a famous song “z’Basel am mym Rhy”, which loosely translates to Basel on my Rhine (River).  MCV were fortunate to have this experience first-hand.





MCV in the Basel Tattoo Cast BarBasel Tattoo Cast Bar: this was our first Tattoo that had a dedicated Cast Bar. It was just a dusty concrete room when we arrived but by opening night the space had been transformed into a sparkling Party Central for the 1,000+ performers.  Each night a different band would take the Cast Bar stage and show off some of their hidden talents not seen during the Tattoo.  Props to all the groups for entertaining the assembled masses.  MCV braved the stage one night and were received with open arms.


Making Friends: I’m sure this point was assisted by our ability to mingle with other groups at the Cast Bar, but this is the main pay-off for performing at Tattoos.  Where else would you get the opportunity to connect with musicians from Denmark, Finland, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, Scotland, South Africa and the USA in one place?  And for the more adventurous souls, there were impromptu runs down to the Rhine to go swimming between shows.  MCV and DenmarkMCV and the Band of Flutes and Drums & Drill Team of the Royal Life Guards, Denmark, made a lasting bond, and a photo of our group photo on the last night of the Tattoo is posted here.  We hope to see our new friends again in the not too distant future.

The Roar of the Crowd: despite two shows per night, it was always a thrill to go through the gates of the Kaserne and out into the arena to perform for a sold-out house.  Our 7 minute set seemed to go by in seconds and was always well received by the 8,000 in attendance, whether the show was in the sun (early shows), the glow of the spotlights or in the rain (the show must go on…).  Always an honor.

Stuart Highlanders: our friends in the Stuart Highlanders Pipe Band did a terrific job for their first ever Tattoo and were well reviewed not only by the audience but also the production staff.  I am sure we will see the band back for other such events in the future.

That is it for me; it has been a great honor to participate in MCV’s latest overseas adventure.

-George March, Fifer/MCV Webmaster



Stuart Highlanders in Basel Tattoo

Stuart Highlanders in Massed Pipes & Drums



MCV marching out of the Kaserne


MCV Drum Feature


MCV exiting the arena

Basel Tattoo Finale - Full Cast

The Cast of the 2012 Basel Tattoo


Lone Piper at Basel Tattoo


Video from our last show at Basel Tattoo


Below is a video of MCV's show on Saturday, July 21, 2012. Stay tuned for wrap-up stories by our other bloggers this week.  The photos below were taken by John Whittaker, Stuart Highlanders and Leif Harder of MCV.  A beautiful double rainbow over the Tattoo grandstands and a view of the Rhine River that we had every day during our stay in Basel. 

George March, Fifer/MCV Webmaster





Four More To Go

Sorry that our Basel blogging has been so quiet….our schedule has been intense! We had another two successful shows today and have just four shows left over next two days, plus the Tattoo parade thru the heart of Basel on Saturday. The photos with this article are the view of the Rhine River from our dressing room and the spectacular Finale. Many more stories to share in the next few days.

George March, Fifer/MCV Webmaster


Four More To Go

Introducing the Stuart Highlanders


Stuart Highlanders Pipe Band - 2012

Stuart Highlanders -June, 2012


Besides MCV, there will be another group from the United States appearing at the Basel Tattoo: the Stuart Highlanders Pipe Band of Wilmington, Massachusetts.  The Stuart Highlanders are a well-known New England musical organization comprised of two competition level bagpipe bands (grades 2 and 4). This will mark their first ever miltary Tattoo and first appearance in Switzerland.   The band will perform nightly as part of the Basel Tattoo Massed Pipes & Drums.

You might ask, what does a fifer know about pipe bands? Well, I was a bagpiper for over 20 years before joining MCV.  This will be my third trip to Basel with MCV…but my first as a fifer.  In 2005 I had the good fortune of being invited to be the Lone Piper at the Yshalle Tattoo..the predecessor to the Basel Tattoo. 

Lone Piper - Yshalle Tattoo Parade, 2005

playing at the Rathaus, Basel: 2005

Several members of MCV are close friends with Matthew Phelps, the Pipe Major of the grade 4 Stuart Highlanders Pipe Band and we suggested to Matt last year that perhaps SHPB would like to consider doing something different…like a Tattoo. And the rest, as they say, is history.  

The last several months have found SHPB very busy obtaining new Full Dress uniforms, learning a marching drill and memorizing the extensive music book for the Tattoo.  MCV and SHPB performed together earlier this year as part of the Stuart Highlanders annual Spring Concert. Besides the nightly Tattoo performances the Stuart Highlanders will also march in the Basel Tattoo parade and mini-Tattoo in Freiburg, Germany on 16 July and the grand Basel Tattoo parade through downtown Basel on 21 July.

All of us in MCV will be cheering on the Stuart Highlanders as they take their place in the community of international Tattoo performers.  Welcome to the club!

George March, Fifer/MCV Webmaster


Stuart Highlanders PB - full dress

Stuart Highlanders Pipe Band – new Full Dress uniform


First Drill Weekend? Check!!

Pre-Lexington2012paradeWhile still in recovery from the marathon weekend (16 hours of rehearsals, 4-5 hours of parades in the 80+ degree April (!) heat), I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what we have accomplished in a very short amount of time.

MCV members from near and far:  “old-timers”, alumni, newbies, Old Guard friends, and international guests all converged on Bedford, Massachusetts for our first drill weekend in preparation for the Basel International Tattoo in July.   As a fifer, I first must say what an absolute thrill it is to play with so many talented, dedicated individuals, all focused toward a common goal: making the best sound and presentation we possibly can.  And I can say, without hesitation, that this Tattoo performance will undoubtedly go down as one of MCV’s finest.

Each day of the weekend began with some serious work on the music, indoors.  Let me just say that after playing with these guys for almost 3 years, I am still awed by the overall quality of the sound we produce.  It makes it difficult to hold my own part, because sometimes I just want to listen!   Most of us had the music memorized already, so when it came time to go outside and work the drill, we could focus mostly on the steps.

It is no small task to coordinate music and drill for a 24-person fife line, 12-person drum line and color guard, but our new drill master (mistress?) Janis was up to the task.  The detail with which she crafted our 7-minute show was unparalleled and left little to interpretation, given the 451-slide PowerPoint she created to detail practically every single step (!) of the drill.  Smiles and good will permeated the entire process, which, not surprisingly, made it all “stick”.  By the end of the day on Sunday, many of us were playing AND marching the entire show, top to bottom.   Not that it was perfect, by any means, but for this to be our starting point for the next drill weekend in May, and then the real show rehearsals in Basel, I feel we are well on our way to putting on another world-class performance.

Hot-sun1We topped off the weekend with Patriot’s Day parades in Lexington and Concord (which was the reason for choosing this particular weekend for the drill rehearsal), marching both parades with 4 ranks of fifers, and a strong drum line.  This year’s Lexington parade was made that much more interesting with record heat (I think I heard it was over 90 degrees!), but we plowed through the parade sets along shadeless streets, thanks in no small part to our superb support team, whose vigilance kept us hydrated, and mopped us up when necessary.  They are truly the unsung heroes of MCV.

It was exhausting.  It was exhilarating.  It was a weekend filled with cementing old friendships and kindling new ones – the kind of bonding rather unique to a group such as MCV, which is really more like an extended family.

 As of this posting, only 85 days til the first of 15 shows!!  I can’t wait!

Chris Myers, MCV Fifer

MCV On the Road to Basel: the Journey Begins

BT2012poster-smallToday is exactly six months from Opening Night at the 2012 Basel Tattoo and MCV's next great overseas adventure: what better day to start our "On the Road to Basel" blog.  As in past Tattoos, we hope to provide regular updates on MCV's preparations for the Tattoo while here in the USA and frequent updates from Switzerland during the run of the show.  

Despite the dead of winter, MCV is well underway with preparations: our feature act music has been learned and we have our first Drill rehearsal on January 22nd.  Stay tuned for further updates as we begin our build-up for Basel.

-George March, Fifer/MCV Webmaster

MCV Live from Malmö!

MCV in concert in Malmö

MCV has successfully completed another tour and have returned from Malmö, Sweden safe and sound (despite a very big detour due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland!).  We had hoped to have frequent live blog postings from Malmö but due to the unique compressed tour time of this trip (6 nights on the ground) that was not possible. However, we will have blog postings from four different perspectives this week: from two MCV veterans (Andrea Wirth and George March) and by new members (Chris Myers and Rich Chwastiak).  Stay tuned for frequent updates this week.  Video coming this afternoon!


Introducing the Performers in the Sweden International Tattoo


As we await the first signs of Spring and our big April Sweden Tattoo Drill Rehearsal weekend, here is a run-down of the other performing groups joining MCV at this year's Sweden International Tattoo:




  •  Royal Fire Brigade Band, Malmo, Sweden
  • Bands of the Royal Swedish Navy and Army
  • The King's Guards Band and Drill Team of Norway
  • Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • Malmöflickorna, Sweden
  • Central Band of the Polish Army
  • Polizei Motorcykelshow, Germany
  • The Tenors (vocals), Denmark/Sweden
  • Brenna Conrad (vocals), Canada
  • Helsingborgs Koncert Hall Choir, Sweden
  • and many more local groups

Stay tuned for further updates as they become available.