Archive for February, 2009

Portland Metro Pipe Band Performs with the Chieftains

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

The Chieftain’s kicked off their Northwest USA tour in Portland Oregon Monday night at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall with the accompaniment of the Portland Metro Pipe Band. They had requested the services of the top bagpipe band in Portland Oregon and found us. We were very honored and humbled at the thought of performing on stage in front of thousands of people alongside the Irish band who was performed all over the world in packed houses for millions of Irish fans.

The date is Monday, February 16th, 2009. The time – 4:00PM. The members of the Portland Metro Pipe Band arrive at the Arlene Schnitzer concert hall through the back entrance, which is off limits for the public. The staff shows us to our room at the top of the building. It is a small room but quaint and adequate to begin the warm process. The band tunes their pipes for approximately 45 minutes while awaiting the Chieftain’s signal to join them on stage for a rehearsal. We get the call over the intercom, “Pipers we are ready for you”. Fully dressed and looking sharp, all of the 11 pipers and 5 drummers meet the immortal band on stage. We take our places, forming a semi-circle around the band. At the instruction of Patty, the lead singer, he signals us with a “1”, which means to strike your pipes and then four beats later we are off playing “The Pipe Band March”. Twice through, while the third time marching off stage. We strike in looking for instruction from the Pipe Major. Some of the band members on the other side have already begun playing while my side still hasn’t initiated the chanter sound. We eventually come in and there is an awkward mash of harmonies before both corps begin playing in unison. At the conclusion, Paddy waves us off saying “Great Job. We will see you tonight”.

The members of the Portland Metro Pipe Band idle in the waiting room while awaiting their fate. It is now 8:30PM and the Chieftain’s are on the verge of wrapping up their first set. We attempt to warm our pipes up while they are still on stage thinking we are far enough way where both the audience and the band will not hear us. Bad idea. We get a knock on the door with a women relaying “the sound is bleeding through the floor”. In other words, we must halt the warm up because it might be affecting the performers on stage.

The time is 8:45PM and we are requested once again over the intercom to report to stage. Half of the band assembles on one side of the stage and the other half on the other side of the stage. Once the audience has reseated themselves, the Chieftain’s invite the Portland Metro Pipe Band on stage. We come marching in with swagger and courage. Patty signals to the drum corps to begin. 13 beats are counted. The pipers strike the drones of their pipes. 4 beats later we are into “The Pipe Band March” and we are live. The acoustics are beautiful and the stage lighting is focused in on us. I have no idea where my Mom and company is sitting. I am too focused in on the Pipe Major to let my mind or eyes sway. Before I know it, we march off stage. We all feel pretty good about the first performance.

The encore is just around the corner and we are asked to join in with “Andro”, a Cape Britain dance tune. The time is 9:35PM and once again as instructed, we report downstairs. Someone from the band shouts, “let’s bring the Portland Metro Pipe Band back out on stage”. To the loud applause of the crowd, we come strolling back out onto stage. For some reason I forget to put in my ear plugs and I am fumbling with them as we march out onto stage. They are secured and I am ready to play. The flute player initiates the melody line to “Andro”. Next come the Violins, the Balron Drum, the signing and the snare drummers in our band. Now the pipers come in as the whole set is repeated. We play three times through and halt. The band continues, building. The Irish dancers appear on stage from behind the curtain and begin their march to the beat. We hit the pipes again are back into the lovely Cape Britain tune. As I play, Irish dancers are blowing by me in step and locked-arm, they seem to have picked up some of the audience members from the front row who are now dancing a methodical circle around us as we continue to play. The pipe major lifts his foot bringing it down with an empathic gesture and everyone halts. The performance is finished. The crowd roars. Everyone is standing, yelling, clapping loudly. The concert is a success.

Thank you Chieftains for inviting the Portland Metro Pipe Band to perform with you.