WV Highlanders of Davis & Elkins College

If your heart has ever been captivated by the enchanting melodies of bagpipes echoing through a misty glen or the rhythmic cadence of drums resonating across the hills, then you can truly appreciate the profound reasons that drive us to play.

Welcome to the official website of the West Virginia Highlanders Band, proudly representing Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia. Founded in 1947 by American Legion H. W. Daniels Post 29 in Elkins, our band was born from the vision of three remarkable individuals: the late David Dare Brown III, a World War II veteran who honed his bagpiping skills during his service; the late Cyrus S. Kump, an esteemed Elkins attorney; and the late Benjamin I. Golden, a respected Elkins surgeon.

Inspired by the colors of the American Legion, we chose to embrace the tartan of the MacLeod of Lewis clan. Our privilege of using this tartan was granted by Dame Flora MacLeod, C.B.E., the 28th chief of the clan. In 1953, we had the honor of performing in her presence during a clan visit to the United States.

Our dedication to tradition is evident in our authentic full-dress military-style uniforms, reminiscent of the Scottish Highland Regiments. Our kilt proudly features the yellowish gold, black, and red MacLeod of Lewis clan tartan. Pipers don a dark military doublet along with a solid Glengarry hat, while drummers and color guard members sport scarlet doublets and diced Glengarries. Completing our ensemble are a folded 5 by 14-foot sash (plaid) pinned at the shoulder, sword belt, waist belt, black shoes, white spats, red garter flashes, a horsehair sporran, and a small sgian dubh (knife) tucked into the sock. For less formal occasions, we swap the doublet, plaid, and sword belt for a black military-style shirt that complements the MacLeod tartan kilt.

From 1947 until 1990, we proudly represented the City of Elkins, the State of West Virginia, and American Legion Post 29 at events and programs across the United States. In 1990, we embarked on a new chapter by becoming a department of Davis & Elkins College, under the leadership of then President Dr. Dorothy MacConkey. Our inaugural public engagement as the Highlanders, now carrying the Davis & Elkins College banner, occurred in Charleston, WV, at a memorial dedication at the Cultural Center for the Fraternal Order of Police.

Our tradition of playing for West Virginia's Governors' inaugurations commenced in 1949 with Governor Okey Patterson and continued through the years, with the most recent being the inauguration of Cecil Underwood in 1997. We are a staple at fairs and festivals throughout the state, with a special bond with the Mountain State Forest Festival, where we hold the record for the longest unbroken string of appearances in any parade.

Beyond our state's borders, we have traveled across the United States, gracing cities like Miami, Fla., Philadelphia, Pa., Washington, D.C., Boston, Mass., Seattle, Wash., Salt Lake City, Utah, Alexandria, Va., Charlottesville, Va., Frederick, Md., and Atlanta, Ga. Notably, we are the only musical group in the world to have participated in the dedications of the Vietnam Memorial, Vietnam Women’s Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and World War II Memorial. We led the processional during the Memorial Service for the Allies of the Korean War at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., featured in a live Voice of America broadcast to the U.S. Armed Forces worldwide.

Our commitment to honoring veterans is evident through our participation in the Memorial Day Parade in Grafton, WV, the site of the first National Cemetery in West Virginia, making it the second-longest consecutive appearance in any parade we attend.

Our extensive list of performances includes collaborations with the West Virginia Symphony in Morgantown, WV; participation in the University of Charleston Sunrise Festival in Charleston, WV; sharing the stage with Rod Stewart in Charleston, WV; joining the Wheeling Symphony Celebration of the Arts in Wheeling, WV; performing at the Forest Festival Concert with the Wheeling Symphony in Elkins, WV; parading in Washington, D.C., for Independence Day; adding a Scottish touch to the Alexandria, Va., Scottish Christmas Walk; contributing to the Strawberry Festival in Buckhannon, WV; honoring the Sago Miners with U.S. Senators Byrd and Rockefeller and Governor Manchin in Buckhannon, WV; and, most recently, collaborating with the Grammy-winning musical group, the Chieftains, in Morgantown, WV. In 2015, we participated in the Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C., and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier the following day.

In addition to our performances, we engage with local civic groups, schools, and churches through seminars and demonstrations. We participate in dedications, memorials, and funerals within the community. Our dedication to Davis and Elkins College is unwavering, and we take pride in contributing to graduation and convocation ceremonies, special college events, and various on-campus activities, including those during the Mountain State Forest Festival.

2022 marked our 75th anniversary, and we are excited to continue our musical journey and celebrate this milestone with you. Thank you for joining us on this extraordinary musical adventure through time and tradition.

Contact us at band@wvhighlanders.org