About Mike Cole

Mike Cole


Mike Cole is one of the world’s foremost experts and educators in pipe band bass, tenor, and snare drumming.  He has instructed in workshops throughout United States, Canada, Scotland, as well as Mexico.

In 1994 “Twisted Thistle” was the name given to a bass drum mallet that was designed and created by Mike Cole. Among the bands that used Twisted Thistle mallets: Field Marshall Montgomery, House of Edgar Shotts & Dykehead, The 78th Fraser Highlanders, Inveraray and District,  just to name a few. Twisted Thistle has evolved into a service that offers a wide variety of musical and instructional services.

Mike began playing the drum set in 1964 and started his pipe band career in 1987. He won the 1998 Best Bass award in Grade 2 at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow and numerous North American trophies. His bass sections secured the Grade 2 North American titles in 2004 and 2005 as well as Grade 1 in 2006, 2007 and 2011. In 2007 Mike won MHAF’s Davis Drums Gold Medal in professional bass drumming competition. Since then he served as a judge and instructor at that event for three years. He served as a member of the board of directors in 2011 to 2012. In 2013 he returned as a competitor and won his second Gold Medal.  Since 2007 Mike has been on the Celtic Arts Foundation faculty as a performer and instructor.

In 2009 Mike was asked to fill the vacated bass drumming position for the Grade 1 Inveraray and District Pipe Band. He moved to Scotland for the summer, played all of the major contests of the 2010 season, and trained his replacement for the 2011 season.  Mike was a guest artist at their 2013 “Ascension” concert in Glasgow. In 2012 Mike was part of the Pipes and Sticks on Route 66 tour. He continues to work and perform with members of the ensemble.

Mike has written volumes of snare, bass and tenor scores and has also has served as a drum technician and consultant to some of the world’s top level competitive bands, including Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, Inveraray and District, Triumph Street, and the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band. Mike is an accomplished drum set player, hand percussionist and session player. Before becoming active in pipe bands he played professionally for 15 years, drumming in a wide variety of bands including work with Chicago blues artists Junior Wells, James Cotton, Sam Lawhorn, Lefty Dizz, as well as R&B legends Sam & Dave.

Mike contributes much of his success to the support of his wife, MJ, a former piper and his greatest fan.