Archive for August, 2008

Salem Oregon Bagpiper

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Commuting to Tuner Oregon for a bagpipe wedding performance? No problem. People always wonder how far I am willing to travel to bagpipe and I never seem to dissapoint. I was asked the other day if I would be willing to travel to Klamath Falls Oregon for a funeral. If I have time and my schedule permits, the answer is always a resounding “of course I would”.

Yesterday, I performed for a charming little wedding set in the backdrop of Tuner Oregon (just south of Salem on I-5). The wedding was located on a farm overlooking miles and miles of true Oregon pasture. It was a medium sized wedding. In all, there were around 70 – 80 guests. I warmed up with a series of marches and appropriate wedding tunes as guests mingled and drank to keep cool. It was over 100 degrees. Once the ceremony was to begin, I took my position in the back near the entrance of the house. On cue, I stepped forward and played Scotland the Brave for the Bridesmaid, Groomsman and the flower girl/little boy usher. Upon which I transitioned into Mari’s Wedding, a popular and very traditional wedding tune for the bride. After the vows were read and stories shared, I entered stage right and piped the newlywed’s out the same way they entered with Donald McClellan of Rothesay, an euphoric and lively tune as the crowd cheered.

After which, I was invited to join them for dinner and refreshments. They actually got the Philly Cheesesteak restaurant from Portland to cater their wedding. What a great treat. I thought the idea was priceless and the food was excellent. One women agreed it was the only place in Portland whose Philly Cheesesteaks rivaled those of Philadelphia.

Around 8:30PM, I drove back to Portland exhausted from the heat but delighted to have shared in such a memorable wedding. Why don’t more weddings in the Portland surrounding area have a bagpiper, especially since Oregon is so scenic.

North Plains OR Parade Witnesses One Man Bagpiper Brigade

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Last Saturday I performed at the North Plains Oregon Garlic Festival. What a cool event. The locals came out in droves to show their appreciation for the local floats and performers. Normally, when I participate in parades, I have back up. Like 8 other bagpipers and 4 drummers.

Centered between the David Wu team and a giant Elephant (like 30 feet in height), I was a one man wrecking crew and it was nice to garner the attention of the local Oregonians. They cheered and clapped as I strode by. For the few moments I wasn’t playing my bagpipes, they would start yelling, “hey Scottish guy, play them pipes” or “do you know Scotland the Brave (bagpipe music sample)”. I always appreciate encouragement. It is much better then hearing, “um, could you please quit killing that cat under your arm”.

All in all, the North Plains Garlic Festival lasted about 40 minutes from start to finish. One of the kids band members from the Sir James McDonald pipe band (the band I currently instruct) from Portland even saw me. I guess he tried to get my attention but I didn’t notice because I was so focused on marching. Like I said earlier, what a great event. The organizer was a very nice lady who showered me with compliments. Hopefully I get invited back to next years Oregon event.

SE Portland Bagpiper Strikes a Tune at Oaks Park

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Well in advance, I was asked to play for the most lovely wedding. It took place at Oaks Pioneer Church in SE Portland, just up the street from one of my favorites as a kid, Oaks Park Amusement Park. The church itself is quaint, charming and absolutely breathtaking. Those traits usually fit quite nicely with a bagpiper but unfortunately with this church the ceiling was quite low and the ability to disappear down an aisle or out an exit was non existent. Thus I played from outside the doors.

For the Bridesmaids and Groomsmen, I bagpiped a Portland Wedding favorite, Scotland the Brave. A great tune because it’s highly recognizable and makes everyone think of the Scottish Highlands. After a couple times through and once the guests had been seated, it was the brides turn. She elected to have Skye Boat Song as her personal tune. As I piped her and her father in, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the whole scenery and the bride looked. I almost would have guessed we were perfectly in sink; myself, the father and the bride. Maybe I was playing to their beat or maybe they were following me. But whatever the case, it was well orchestrated. The Portland Oaks Park Church had come alive.

As the Bride and Groom officially married, headed to the exits, I played a lively upbeat 6/8 march named Duncan McGillvary. After they had filed out, I continued playing until the remaining guests had shuffled out. The smiles on everyone’s face beamed for miles and was probably felt on North Mississippi. Once the new couple had been whisked away in their chariot for the reception, people approached me in droves to offer their encouraging words. My personal favorite is when they compliment my playing. I should add a testimonial page to my Portland Bagpipe website. The Portland Bagpiper photos should be up soon.