The Winnipeg Police Pipe Band delighted attendees of the Sir Paul McCartney concert on Aug. 12.
The band was invited to perform with the 71-year-old legend, who made his name with The Beatles and Wings, at Investors Group Field. The band emerged during McCartney’s second encore to play Mull of Kintyre, which McCartney performed with Wings.
The band was connected to McCartney through former Transcona resident Barb Burkowski, who played with the Heather Belles before joining the Winnipeg Police Pipe Band. Burkowski, a drummer, performed with McCartney at his 1993 show after cold-calling the promoters, and had maintained the connection to get her new band set up once again.
"It was with the Heather Belles Pipe Band that I connected with the promoters — at the time it was Nite Out Entertainment in Winnipeg — and asked if we could do this," said Burkowski, who didn’t perform at the show in order to give other members a chance to get on the big stage.
"As soon as we heard that Paul McCartney was coming back, I made a phone call. We had those contacts."
Burkowski said for the 1993 show, of which she was a part at the age of 20, the band only found out a week beforehand they’d be performing, so they had to get the arrangement together in a hurry.
Pipe major Doug Roxburgh, who also grew up in Transcona, said it was a similar situation this time around. The River Heights resident said the band was in discussions with Live Nation for months, but when they were set up with McCartney’s music director and accordion player Paul "Wix" Wickens leading up to the show, they felt all but confirmed. Confirmation officially came about a week before the show.
"It was a slow but sure process of getting to the right people and getting information and running with it from there," he said.
Roxburgh said being able to perform with a living legend was a heart-pumping experience, especially after receiving a raucous welcome from the crowd of 31,200.
"The best way to describe it is a complete ‘wow’ factor," he said. "We tuned more into it after the fact that we’d done our job because as much as it was overwhelming being on the stage, we really had to focus on being in sync with the McCartney band.
"It was when we went off the stage that it was ‘wow, did that really happen?’"
Roxburgh said the band certainly had some nerves going in, as they only got to rehearse with McCartney during sound check. They did get a vote of confidence right off the bat, though.
"Paul looked at his guitar player and gave a big smile of approval — that was a big confidence boost for us," he said.