history

History

  • 1921

    The Chicago Stock Yard Kilty Band is founded by World War I Veteran brothers Robert and James Sim.

  • 1933

    SyKB performs at the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago. Much of the fair site is now home to Northerly Island park and McCormick Place. A column from the ruins of a Roman temple in Ostia given to Chicago by the Italian government to honor General Italo Balbo's 1933 trans-Atlantic flight still stands near Soldier Field. The city added a red star to its flag in 1933 to commemorate the Century of Progress Exposition (at the time, it was the third star – the City added a fourth star in 1939).

  • 1952

    Piper Mel Finlaynson plays at the opening of the first Carson Pirie Scott branch store at Evergreen Plaza. This was the first store Carson Pirie Scott would open since it's State Street store was founded almost a century prior in 1854.

  • 1955

    SyKB leads a torch-lit parade through Bridgeport for then County Chairman Richard J. Daley at the opening of his race against fellow Democrat Martin H. Kennelly in the 1955 Democratic Primary. Daley would go on to defeat Kennelly for the nomination. The parade preceded a mass meeting in Lithuanian Auditorium at 3135 S. Halsted St.

  • 1959

    The Stockyard Kilty Band has the honor to play for Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and President Eisenhower as they visited the Upper Midwest to celebrate the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Royal Couple piloted the Royal Yacht Britannia through the Seaway and into the Great Lakes for the festivities.

  • ~1960

    The Stockyards begin performing in the Chicago Irish Parade along 79th street. This parade would later move downtown and become the official Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade. The original parade route was on 79th Street from Ashland Avenue to Halsted Avenue in the St. Sabina Parish in Auburn Gresham.

  • 1979

    SyKB marches in the first South Side Irish Parade and has lead every one since. The parade - started by the “Wee Folks of Washtenaw and Talman” - would go on to become one the largest communal celebrations of St. Patrick's Day outside of Ireland.

  • 1983

    With the decentralization of the Union Stockyards and the demolition of the Stockyard's Inn the band sought new practice space. They moved to the Bridgeport Knights of Columbus Hall (or 'KC Hall' as it's affectionately known) in 1975 before becoming affiliated with the Evergreen Park Legion Post #854 in 1983. The band has practiced there almost every Friday night since.

  • 2011

    SYKB celebrates it's 90th year of existence. Here's to 90 more!

  • 2012

    After a three-year hiatus, the Southside Irish Parade returns to its route down Western Ave and the Stockyards returned at its head. 150,000 parade-goers turned out to keep this Southside Tradition Strong.

The Chicago Stock Yard Kilty Band - one of the oldest continuous pipe bands in the U.S. - was formed in 1921 by brothers Robert and James Sim. The Sim Brothers came from a piping family in Aberdeen, Scotland where their father made bagpipes. Both served in World War I; Bob with the 4th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders and Jim (who enlisted at 13) with the Royal Engineers Pipe Band and, later, the 51st Highland Division.

After coming to Chicago, Bob Sim joined the Canadian Kilties Pipe Band, which has since gone out of existence. In 1921 Sim decided to form his own pipe band and after obtaining uniforms from ex-servicemen of the British Legion he and his brother organized the British Legion Pipe Band. The band’s first performance was the Decoration Day Parade in 1922 down Michigan Ave with four pipers, two sides, and a bass drummer.

In 1925 the Chicago Stock Yard American Legion Post #333 was organized and was looking for a musical unit. The band became affiliated with the Stock Yard Post in 1926 and changed its name to The Chicago Stock Yard Kilty Band. The band practiced at the old Boys & Girls Club at the Stockyards and was the first bagpipe band in the history of the American Legion. During this time the band traveled with the Legion to Philadelphia, Louisville, Detroit, Davenport, as well as all over Illinois. Eventually the band made its home in the Stock Yard Inn where it was given a dedicated practice hall. The band performed often at the Inn and the International Amphitheater and led the Parade of Prize Winning Beef Cattle every year at the International Live Stock Exposition until the close of the Union Stockyards.

In 1931 the SyKB had its first split. Some members broke off and formed a new band using the SyKB’s old name, The Chicago Highlanders, which is still in existence today. Although the band was registered as the Chicago Stock Yard Kilty Band, the inventory records were never changed from Chicago Highlanders. Because of this a court ruling said that all parties could keep the uniforms issued to them.

On May 19, 1934 the band lost all of its equipment in the Great Stock Yard Fire. The Legion bought the band new drums and the band raised funds for new uniforms. It was at this time that the band adopted the Buchanan tartan.

Today the band continues the tradition which honors its military heritage - striving for excellence in the art of pipe and drum music. The Stock Yard Kilty Band has maintained a quality level of play throughout history by continuously bringing new blood into the band. Since 1975 Pipe Major Dave McKee has filled the band's ranks with his accomplished pipe and drum students. Dave has maintained the band’s tradition with his disciplined teaching style.

A style now in the hands of Pipe Major Matt McKee.

The Chicago Stock Yard Kilty Band has over 9 decades of piping history as a foundation. Efforts over that time have had tremendous influence on the pipe band community in the Mid-West and across our great Nation.

The Union Stock Yard Gate

The Union Stock Yard Gate
A Chicago Landmark


Address: Exchange Ave. at Peoria St.
Year Built: circa 1875
Architect: Burnham and Root
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: February 24, 1972

At one time sprawling over 475 acres, the Union Stock Yards thrived for a century until its closing in 1971. This rugged limestone gate, which marked the entrance to the Stockyards, survives as one of the few visual reminders of Chicago's past supremacy in the livestock and meatpacking industries. The limestone steer head over the central arch is traditionally thought to represent "Sherman," a prize-winning bull named after John B. Sherman, one of the founders of the Union Stock Yard and Transit Company. Through the arch once passed the people and livestock that made Chicago the "hog butcher to the world".

This is also the site of a Sculpture honoring 21 firefighters and officers who died in the 1910 Stockyards Blaze.

band

Band

Current SyKB

The Chicago Stock Yard Kilty Band strives to keep the Scottish Pipes and Drums loudly alive on the South Side of Chicago.

SyKB marches in a multitude of parades each season. The band typically marches every St. Patrick’s, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day as well as playing a dozen other parades throughout the year.

On top of parades, SyKB also has the honor of playing various festivals throughout the year. While the lineup varies from year-to-year you can usually catch the band a few times a season – from Chicago’s Summer Celtic Fest to The St. Andrew’s Society Feast of the Haggis.

Every year the band comes together to celebrate the year before and the year ahead with all our family and friends at the Annual Tartan Ball – a gala that never fails to disappoint.

SyKB competes in Grade 4 of the Midwest Pipe Band Association and has won 6 Champion Supreme Awards for its efforts. When parade season is starting to taper off, competition season is gearing up for those pipers and drummers ready to compete. Competition sees the band traveling throughout the Midwest for the summer testing their metal against the other Pipe and Drum corps of MWPBA.

Pipe Majors

Matt McKee 2003-Present
Dave McKee Sr. 1975-2003
Norm McLeod 1970-1975
Roddy McDonald 1964-1970
Robert Sim 1951-1963
Jock Stevens 1950-1951
Robert Sim 1921-1950

Practice

The entire band practices on Friday evenings from 8-11 PM, while the students and those looking for additional instruction meet on Tuesday nights from 7-10 PM. Before competitions extra practices are arranged for the competition groups. More info in the general contact section.

Band Members

There are presently 65 members in Stock Yard Kilty Band, counting 30 pipers, 14 side drummers, 10 tenor drummers, 4 bass drummers, 2 alto drummers and numerous students.

Our Equipment

Our drumline utilizes Premier alto, bass and snare drums. Our pipleline uses Shepherd chanters with Shepherd reeds and Kinnaird Drone reeds.

Our Tartan - Buchanan

The early origin of this family is said to be a son of the king of Ulster who landed in Argyll around 1016 and was rewarded with land on the east side of Loch Lomond by King Malcolm II, for service in fighting Nordic invaders. The area was known as "Buth chanain", Gaelic for "house of the canon" and may have been connected with the ancient Celtic Church. The land was to remain in the possession of Buchanans until 1682 when the 22nd laird of Buchanan died and the estates had to be sold to repay debts. The mansion house of Buchanan is now owned by the Graham Dukes of Montrose. This kilt was chosen in the 1930s because of how well it looked on parade.

Our Crest

The band crest was designed in the 1960's by band member Jimmy Oglesby. It encompasses the St. Andrew's Cross, the Stock Yard steer head, the crest of the English government, the thistle, crown and the United State's bald eagle. Jimmy also designed the band logo which crosses heritage and includes the following: St. Andrew's Cross, Crown of England and the American Bald Eagle.



Sponsorship

The cost of uniforms, equipment, and travel is no small matter. The band depends upon fundraising, performance fees, prize winnings, and travel allowances, for its primary funding. We are always open to and seeking new sponsorship from any source who would like to assist us in the promotion and perpetuation of the Celtic art of Bagpipes and Drums.

If you, your company or organization, or anyone you know would be interested in sponsoring or donating to the band please contact our Band Manager, Dan McKee, at info@sykb.com or fill out the contact form on the sponsor page.

roster

Roster

Matt McKee
Fearless Leader/Pipe Major
matt-mckee@sykb.com

Dave McKee Sr.
Pipe Sergeant

Mike Gribbon
Pipe Corporal

Luke McKee
Lance Pipe Corporal

Kevin Conry
Lance Pipe Corporal

Bill Collins
Drum Major

Dave McKee Jr.
Drum Sergeant
david.mckee@chicagopolice.org

Brian Conry
Drum Corporal

Pipers

Tom Latur ⇔ Lance Pipe Corporal
John Barret
Mark Battaglia
Matt Burke
Jim Butler
Christopher Cabaj
Chip Coldren
Ellen Chesley
William Currie
Dan Devane
Dan Donlon
Douglas Dow
Annie Dow
Kelly Flanigan
Mason Green
Vikki Gribbon
Brian Gunnell
Mike Hallberg
Collin Henson
Dan Johnson
Mark McKibbin
Mike Park
Megan Poelstra
Gavin Quinn
Ed Slosar
Mike Stanula
Neil Vanhuizen ⇔ Quartermaster
Jack Waas


Color Guard
Bill Haggerty
Tom Johnson
Joe Kerzich
Fred Schultz


Drummers

Sides
Kevin Ade ⇔ Drum Corporal
Jen Baxtrom
Marty McFly Brett
Andy Dilger
Scott Klier
Dick Little
Dan O'Brien
Michael Reda
Kevin Reda
Pat Reda
John Riccio
Joe Urchak ⇔ Websmith
Dan Vicich ⇔ Drum Corporal
Matt Waas

Tenors
Collin Gribbon
Trudy Janson
Grace McKee
Marianne McKibbin ⇔ Secretary, Tenor Cpl
Maddie McKibbon
Meghan McKibbin
Erin Reda
Bass ⇔ The Goon Squad
Thomas M. Costello
Sam Fitzgerald
Terry McCabe
Dan McKee ⇔ Band Manager

alumi

Alumni

D. MacKinley Riebesehl pm-mack@execpc.com Pipe Major | MSPB
Jim Sinnott JimSinnott1953@msn.com Ashburn, VA
Roy Davis (Sonny DeLor) DAVISRORI@aol.com Pueblo West, Colorado
Ellis Waller elliswaller@charter.net Madison WI
Ray Fineron fineron@msn.com Chicago, IL
Lynn McLean (Danny) peakconcepts@txucom.net Huntsville, TX
David "Doc" Love djlove@gwtc.net Custer, SD
Norman MacLeod blue61@mts.net Winnipeg, Canada
David Richmond dtrichmond@aol.com Birmingham Society of Piping
Kenneth Van Meter HVanMeter@webtv.net Naperville, IL
Bill Hannigan www.threemeninkilts.com Chicago, IL
Joe & Chris Brady www.ForOurFallen.org Raleigh, NC


Are you a Band Alum?

Since the formation of the SyKB over 90 years ago, a huge number of musicians have been trained. Many have moved on to other bands, while others have retired in preference of other pursuits. This page provides a way for former members to stay in touch by providing their details on the site.

To register your details as a former member of the Band, please fill out the form below or send an email to websmith.com and include the requested info below.

[contact-form-7 id="97" title="AlumniForm"]