Just before the pandemic began, Nick Wright was hired to teach biology at his alma mater, Gloucester City High School after 10 years at Cherry Hill East.
And already he his connecting with his roots and, with the help of Dave Bakey, is starting the new Gloucester City Irish Society Pipes & Drums Band.
“I was born and raised in Gloucester City, graduating with the GHS Class of 2007. I recently joined the Irish Society. It was great to see people I grew up with, like one of my good friends, Liam James. His dad, the late Mayor William James, used to lead our football team onto the field playing the bagpipes,” said Nick, who is also an assistant football coach.
“Last season I led the team onto the field playing the bagpipes. I felt like I was honoring Mr. James,” said Nick, who attended Rutgers University and earned a bachelor’s degree in Ecology & Natural Resources. He then earned a master’s degree in Biological Science Education.
“When I was a sophomore, I started playing bagpipes with the 2nd Street Irish Society Pipes & Drums Band. We have performed in St. Patrick’s Day parades in Philadelphia and Gloucester City, as well as many others,” Nick said.
“It is very enjoyable, and I want to share that experience with people who might have thought they would like to play the bagpipes, but never had a chance,” said Nick, who will teach beginners who want to join the band. Talented musician and GHS graduate Dave Bakey will instruct the drummers. All the lessons are free.
“We want to foster Irish national pride through music. We will do fresh renditions of traditional Irish music, and maybe even write a few original songs,” said Nick, adding the they will be performing rebel songs such as “Wearing the Green,” “Minstrel Boy,” “Sean South of Garryowen,” “A Soldier’s Song,” “A Nation Once Again,” and the “Boys of the Old Brigade.”
“One of the goals of the Irish Society is to raise awareness on what is happening in Ireland now, and the band will do it through music,” he said.
He hopes the new band will be able march in its first parade during Irish Weekend in North Wildwood in September 2022. Then, they will perform in the Gloucester City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March 2023.
In order to achieve that goal, the band needs more bagpipers and drummers. Nick, who will serve as president of the band, said there will be a meeting in April and that practice will begin in May.
Those interested can contact Nick on the band’s Facebook page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Besides starting a new band, Nick also has some exciting news. He is engaged to Rebecca Rimkunas, and they will be married in February 2022.
As for the band, Nick is looking forward to its first parade – especially at the end when they say “pipes down.”