Pirates and Punk

OK, so I’ve been thinking of cool tunes to add to my Drive-by piping repertoire. Seems like people always smile when you play a tune they don’t expect to hear on the pipes.

The Pirate of Sainte Mary’s is a piper who busks, and he plays a version of the Star Wars theme. Sounds like it’s a hit with his audience.

I’d like to work up some punk standards on the pipes.

My tiny list so far:

I Fought the Law – The Clash

Blitzkrieg Bop – The Ramones (honestly, with three notes you can probably make anything by The Ramones work on pipes)

It’s early days yet – any suggestions? I’ll update the list soon….

My Newtilikilt causes a stir, but I am not refused service.

With lightning speed, my new Utilikilt arrived from Seattle Thursday. Of course, I have worn it every day since. It might even be helping to scare up some business.

My kids persuaded me to take them to a gross fast food restaurant. The staff commented on my accent and my kilt, but did not ask me to leave. (Hey, Salt Lake City is the home of the Denny’s that made diversity training a national issue in cheap food chains.)

A nervous woman approached me. Had I scared her kids?

No – she wanted to know if, by chance my kilt was American (yes, 100%, I told her) and where did I get it? Since the kilt had arrived that day, it still had a handful of Utilikilt business cards in the pocket, so I gave her one. I also gave her a few of my Drive-by Piper cards. Turns out her friend is getting married soon and would “really like a piper at her wedding”.

Good things happen when you wear the kilt.

My first paid Drive-by

Last Friday was my first paying gig as a piper. I have started the Drive-by Piping service as as alternative to the more involved piping service usually offered by pipers for weddings. Having piped for free for family and friends, I have come to a couple of conclusions regarding piping at social gatherings:

  • People love pipe music, especially the tunes they know (Scotland the Brave, Amazing Grace)
  • However, in many situations, there is a limit to how long people want to listen. They can’t really talk while the piper is playing. It’s just not background music.

My solution – a Drive-by Piping. I show up, hit them with about 15 minutes of tunes, including their favorites, and I’m done.

Friday evening I played a wedding. When I showed up at the reception everyone was relaxed and having a good time; they were completely receptive to what I had prepared. I had lined up about six or seven sets of tunes. During set four I began to see a little restlessness on the part of some of the guests. So I closed with Amazing Grace, bid them farewell and everyone was happy. The bride and groom thanked me profusely, many guests came up to me with compliments and I gave out several business cards.

So, Drive-by Piping number one was a great success. Keep watching and I will post some pictures.

I Am Proud to Play a Pipe!

Hello everyone, and welcome to PiperPride.

I am indeed proud to play the bagpipe. Few instruments can match its effect on listeners, but it’s also an incredible instrument to play. If you are a fellow piper, then you know what I am taking about; if you just like to listen, then I hope to convey to you some of the excitement I feel every time I pick up my pipes.

As this is my first post, here is a little information about me: I was born and grew up in England, but in 1995 I moved to Buffalo, New York, U.S.A. In November 2005 I moved again and I now live in the spectacular Salt Lake Valley, in Utah. I began piping while in Buffalo in 2003, so in many ways it still feels very new to me. I will write more on my path through piping in later posts.

The title of this post is taken from a piobaireachd (or ancient highland pipe tune) of the same name, and I chose it because it sums up nicely how I feel about this instrument. I have been a singer since I was a child. I have played the piano, the violin, the saxophone and the oboe, amongst other instruments. I have enjoyed all these, but none of them compares to the bagpipe.

The bagpipe is the instrument I am proud to play and I look forward to sharing that pride with you.