Cannon Beach OR Bagpiper

June 29th, 2010

Bagpiping on the Oregon Coast always has a special part in my heart. There is something quite invigorating about bagpiping at the beach. The sound of seagulls flapping overhead, the lapping waves at your feet, the refreshing breeze and the picturesque moments always shared between friends and family in a beach setting can be very special. Frequently, I am asked to Oregon coast bagpipe for funerals, weddings and parties.

I was contacted early last week to play for a celebration of life on the Oregon Coast. I was to pipe at Tolovana State Park, just outside Cannon Beach. I have been a bagpiper Cannon Beach OR before, so I was familiar with the location. It was held at dusk, perfectly timed so the family and friends gathering would spy the sunset in the distance. The celebration of life lasted about 1 hour and 30 minutes. It was a combination of music, stories and poems. The family wanted to have a bagpiper pipe them in. We started at the stairway leading down to the beach, with me trailing the family as they waltzed along the beach up to tent where family and friends had gathered. I started with Scotland the Brave bagpipe tune and once in position, launched into Skye Boat Song bagpipe tune, which is a lovely combination of traditional bagpipe music. It was a perfect setting for a bagpiper in Cannon Beach OR.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, with my fingers a bit stiff and cold from the breeze, I bagpiped Green Hills of Tyrol as the family escorted the urn down to the water. It was a slow, steady and emotional walk for family. I waited for the signal and then transitioned into Amazing Grace bagpipe song. I piped Amazing Grace 6 times through as the family distributed the ashes and made their journey back to gathering friends.

I received many smiles and thank you’s for as they described my “eloquent bagpipe music”. Thanking the family, I headed to my vehicle just after 9:30PM and made the long Hwy 26 drive back to Portland.

To learn more about me, visit my Oregon Bagpiper home page or read about my events at Bagpiper Oregon blog.

Salem OR Bagpiper

June 7th, 2010

A very decorated war hero passed away in May and I was contacted by Mark, a specialist for the US armed services to bagpipe in Salem OR for the war veteran. This wasn’t the first time someone contacted me for a Salem OR bagpiper. I have piped there on several occasions throughout the years, for parties, weddings and funerals.

The service was to be held at Court Street Christian Church 1699 Court Street Northeast Salem, OR 97301 in the mid afternoon. The bagpiper Salem OR funeral service was to follow the graveside burial at Willamette National Cemetery on Friday the day before. Fortunately, because I schedule my work around when people need me for oregon bagpipe gigs, I am flexible to make even short term requests. I did have full availability to bagpipe at Willamette National Cemetery and I am very familiar with the layout, the structure, time scheduling and when the most opportune times to pipe during the ceremony are.

At Willamette National Cemetery, I bagpiped Scotland the Brave as the honor guard escorted the casket into the shelter. After the 21 gun salute, taps and the folding of the flag, I was instructed to pipe the final segment of the program which called for Amazing Grace. It was a short and very professional ceremony. The directors and honor guard at Willamette National Cemetery do a wonderful job coordinated burials.

The next day, I drove from Portland to Salem OR bagpipe at the Church service. The Court Street Christian Church is a beautiful church with high ceilings, lovely acoustics and lots of room to accommodate large groups of people. Fortunately for the Church, there was enough (just barely) to seat all the family members and friends. The service lasted approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. Mark asked that I bagpipe at the very end of the ceremony, after taps and the folding of the flag. I struck up my bagpipes and played a lovely version of Amazing Grace and repeated it three times through to get the full effect. I positioned myself in the foyer, a bit of ways from everyone, which gave a mysterious impression of background bagpipe music.

As guests of the family shuffled out the door, showering me with compliments and gratitude, one women in particular said something very memorable to me. She said, “I couldn’t tell if there was a real bagpiper playing or a CD”. Wow.

Bagpiper Seaside OR

May 9th, 2010

A well known and well liked Oregonian passed away and I was contacted for a bagpiper in Seaside OR. Although I am a bagpiper in Portland, I do travel throughout Oregon and Washington as an Oregon piper, when requested for a Seaside OR bagpiper, the commute was definitely in my range. The service was held at Seaside Christian Church at 88786 Dellmoor Loop Warrenton, OR 97146-7151. It turns out Warrenton is just a few miles north of Seaside on Hwy 101.

The funeral was scheduled for 2PM and as is customary, I showed up 20 minutes before the service began. It was a beautiful day, with hardly a cloud in sight and a slight breeze, a day you would be hard pressed to find on the Oregon Coast. Dressed in full uniform, with the Ancient Frasier tartan, I sought out the family who hired me to go over the logistics. The plan was simple and straightforward. I was to bagpipe in the Seaside Church near the conclusion of the ceremony. To create a sort of haunting effect, I piped from the back entry way for a bar of Danny Boy bagpipe music song, piping as I waltz to the alter. Once there, I turned, faced the family and the family members and continued playing Danny Boy one time through. I stopped my bagpipes at the end of the tune. I then restruck them back in and launched straight into Amazing Grace bagpipe song. I played Amazing Grace twice through in place and at the beginning of the third time through, I slowly began to march and return to the same point I initially started from.

Next came the honor guard and bugler player. It was a wonderful transition. Making eye contact with the Bugler, the moment I stopped, he began playing a beautiful version of taps while the honor guard marched forward carrying the United States flag.

I waited outside to thank the family members and friends as they strolled out the Seaside OR Church. I received warm thank you’s and deep expressions of gratitude. Lastly, I thanked the family for inviting me to pipe in Seaside OR. Pipes in hand and uniform glistening in the sun, I headed for my vehicle and a short while later I was back in Portland.

Funeral Bagpiper Tigard OR

April 11th, 2010

Funerals are a strange combination of a celebration of life and the grieving process of loosing a loved one. A piper serves to assist in both processes. I often gets compliments from people with tears in their eyes, thanking me profusely for providing such a warm tribute to someone’s life. Sometimes I wonder whether the tears are tears of joy or tears of sadness. Saturday was no different.

I was contacted by a women who lost her husband. She requested Amazing Grace on bagpipes and Scotland the Brave on the bagpipes.

The funeral was for a piper in Tigard OR. Just off Hwy 99 is Young’s Funeral Home in Tigard OR. I arrived 25 minutes prior to the funeral to meet the family and the funeral director, orientate myself with the layout and confirm all the details. Because I have been a piper in Portland and have performed for over 100 funerals the passed three years (see my Oregon Piper Blog, I try to approach every funeral the same way; on time and prepared.

I processed in with Amazing Grace and continued playing it three times through. Once the family was seated, I cut my pipes. At the conclusion of the ceremony, I reappeared in the same place I bagpiped previously. This time I piped Scotland the Brave, processing the family out into the foyer.

Although I preside in Portland and call myself the Portland Piper, I travel quite frequently, from Mt. Hood to the Beach, from Seattle to Bend. Tigard OR Piper was no different. I love to perform and anytime I can assist with the grieving process, I feel I am doing my part to help the family during difficult times.

Hillsboro OR Piper Plays for High School

April 7th, 2010
Bagpiper in Hillsboro OR
I met Bill over 2010 New Years, when I played for “Hogmanay”, also known as Scottish New Years. This Portland piper event took place in SE and consisted of lots of sing and dance (see Portland’s Own Scottish New Years blog post).

Bill contacted me several months back inquiring about performing for a school in Hillsboro OR he teaches at. The students were learning about Macbeth, making Scottish cuisine and celebrating the history of Scotland. As a surprise, Bill thought it would be a wonderful idea to bring a bagpiper to Hillsboro OR and give a short performance. I eagerly accepted his invitation.

The bagpiping performance lasted roughly 45 minutes and was comprised of piping and educating. I played traditional tunes, including Scotland the Brave, Green Hills of Tyrol (traditional bagpipes tunes). I also played our new pipe band medley competition set. I avoided playing any Piobrach, which I reserve for certain audiences.

When I was not piping, I shared with the Hillsboro OR students how I got into bagpiping, the history of the bagpipes and how they made their way to present day Scotland, how the bagpipe works, how to tune it, as well as what the individual pieces of my uniform represent.

Midway through the Hillsboro OR bagpiper performance, I asked the question, “what are the first things that come to mind when I say ‘Scotland’”? Surprisingly, it wasn’t until buzz word number 6 when I finally heard ‘bagpipes’. Jokingly, I said ‘bagpipes’ should be the first thing you think of because it’s the coolest thing about Scotland.

Thanks to Bill and all the Hillsboro OR students for having me perform. Hopefully,for the next Scottish tour the students embark on, they will invite me back to bagpipe in Hillsboro OR.

SE Portland Piper Pipes for First Birthday Party

February 8th, 2010
Portland Piper Dan DelMain and Portland Snare Drummer Andrew Finely pipe at a birthday party
I always love piping for birthday parties because people are so appreciative and complimentary of my services (Happy Birthday bagpipe tune is always a fun one to play). Over the several years I’ve been bagpiper in Oregon, I’ve had the opportunity to play for birthdays of all ages. However, Saturday night was the first time I was asked to bagpipe for a 1 year old.

Andrew Finely, a fellow band mate and snare drummer extraordinaire was invited to accompany me to the party. Andrew and I play together in the Portland Metro Pipe Band and use played growing up together in the Sir James MacDonald Pipe Band (more information on Oregon Piper beginnings). Adding a drummer to the mix creates an added dynamic and provides additional energy. And plus, sometimes I miss jamming out with other musicians. Bagpiping is an isolated instrument, most likely due to the fact you normally cannot hear the other musicians on stage without them being plugged into an amp.

The party was held in SE Portland, just off SE 42nd and Division. As with every event, I arrived 20 minutes before I was scheduled to perform. When we reached the entry way door, the party was in full swing, with neighboring kids and parents eating cake, drinking and celebrating. I was amazed at how many friends the cute little 1 year old had accumulated over her short time.

The hosts requested some old classics, including Amazing Grace, Scotland the Brave and Garry Owen. In between the classics, Andrew and I piped our Medley competition set of tunes (including jigs, reels, strathspeys, hornpipes, slow aires), some 6/8 marches, a 3/4 march set and some other miscellaneous tunes. We piped and drummed for approximately 30 minutes but within the 30 minutes we played a lot of Scottish and Irish music.

We wished everyone goodbye and saluted the birthday girl one last time as we marched outside into the dreary Portland rainy night. It was a fine evening and were delighted to hear we would be invited back in a short while for another event.

Oregon Piper and Drummer pose for a birthday party photo

Portland’s Own Scottish New Years

January 11th, 2010

I thought I knew everything about Piping and Scottish Holidays which involve piping. I guess I may have missed one.

When I was asked by Barbara to play my bagpipes for “Hogmanay”, also known as Scottish New Years, I was instantly intrigued. “Hogmanay”? What is that? As she described it, it is the proper way to ring in the New Years, Scottish style. In order to abide by the rules of “Hogmanay”, you must thoroughly clean your house, place pieces of rowan tree above your fireplace, pay off your debts among other things. On the Eve, you are suppose to open up your back door to let the old and evil spirits leave, while opening up your front door to bring in the new and good luck.

The best way to celebrate the “Hogmanay” is with family and friends. The verbiage for the cheers is “Lang may yer lum reek!”, which means long may your chimney smoke. Another celebratory cheers is “A guid New Year to ane an’ a’ and mony may ye see”, which translates to A good New Year to one and all, and many may you see.

If you wish to read more, a great article is Scottish Hogmanay Customs.

Now, on to the bagpiping and the reason I was invited to play. Barbara, who also happens to be a beautiful singer copied several popular Scottish songs and requested the guests sing a long as I play. I played Scotland the Brave, Amazing Grace and Loch Lommond. It was the first time in my Portland piping experience I have ever played while others sang along. It was a truly moving experience. And the Scotch wasn’t bad either.

I had much fun and hopefully will play many more Scottish New Years Events. Heck, I might even host my own next year.

Oregon Piper Pipes at Bicycle Dedication Ceremony

November 12th, 2009

Lately, there has been an increased safety concern for bicyclists in Portland and rightfully so. Each year, several cyclists die from car related accidents. In order to watch over and protect the thousands of bikers who bike Portland OR every day, St. Stephens Episcopal Church (1432 SW 13th Ave, Portland OR) put on an event last week called which dedicated a bicycle shrine in the church. Father Dennis Parker presided over the service with the assistance of Mic who put the event together.

The event itself was short and sweet and to the point. There were several television crews present and event received recognition from Portland OR based newspapers and news organizations. I was invited to bagpipe as the cyclists arrived. There were several news crews filming my playing but none stopped to ask me any questions. I guess the news snippet was too short to include a bagpiper. I also played at the end of the event, piping Amazing Grace three times through. Everyone thanked me at the end and was very complimentary of my playing. I think they have another event coming up in December which Mic mentioned he would love to have me at. Look for an update on bagpiping in Portland’s St. Stephens Church.

A copy of the flyer dedicating the ceremony:


Portland Piper on KGW News Channel 8

October 28th, 2009

Bob’s Red Mill Grain in Milwaukie Portland recently won the Golden Spurdle award at the annual World Porridge Championships in Scotland. The won Best Porridge in the World prize, which no company in the US has ever won. This is a pretty big deal but comes as no surprise, many swear by Bob’s Red Mill Grain products.

KGW News Channel 8 Morning show got a hold of the news and Drew Carney and company wanted to air a special 2 hour segment honoring the company and the porridge. I was invited by the Bob’s Red Mill Graiin to add an extra hint of Scottish flare to the broadcast. Dressed in full uniform, adorning the Ancient Frasier tartan, I was involved in three segments. I played traditional tunes, tunes I hoped the viewers might recognize – Scotland the Brave, Green Hills of Tyrol and another 3/4 march. You can hear the full bagpipe tunes recorded live by me on my Portland bagpipe music page.

We all had a lot of fun and got to sample some great Scottish food. Here is a link to the KGW news video feed. I come in minute 7:30ish. Portland Piper on KGW News Channel 8.

Portland Metro Pipe Band Performs with the Chieftains

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.