St. Patricks Day Piper

March 24th, 2008

A Portland lumber company hired me and a fellow drummer in my pipe band, Ted McNight to play at their St. Patty’s Day celebration. They roped off an entire block in downtown Portland for food, beer, bagpipes and festivities. It was quite an occasion. We were obligated to play for an hour but we ended up playing for 2.5 hours (partly because we couldn’t get away from the food, beer and company).

I think we offered the guests quite an enjoyable performance. We mixed it up with Hornpipes, Jigs, Strathspeys, Reels, Marches and Slow Aires. The tune we didn’t play was a Piobrauch. That might lulled everyone into a deep sleep. Our goal was to keep it lively. Normally, I play Portland bagpipe gigs as a soloist, so I always welcome the company of another bagpiper or drummer. And as always, my bagpipe band buddies are looking to take the day off work on St. Patty’s Day. I mean shouldn’t we all.

Oregon Bagpipe Funeral in Gaston, OR

March 16th, 2008

It’s St. Patty’s Day Weekend; every bagpipers favorite weekend. It is the one time of year when you walk around the town in a kilt and not have to explain why you’re dressed up in a kilt (or as most people refer to it-dress). After a grueling midnight performance the night before with my buddy Travis and then a 630AM wake up call to participate in the St. Patty’s Day downtown Portland race, I raced to Gaston Oregon to perform my Portland bagpipes for a decorated veteran’s funeral.

It was quite a drive getting there and for the fact I slept little the night before, I was operating on little energy. Luckily, the gig went very smooth. I arrived early and played on a beautiful acreage of land. I played my bagpipe interminably for the first 45 minutes, oscillating between traditional 3/4 marches and more contemporary 6/8 marches. The main reason for the invite was to play “Taps” after the 21 gun salute. I had never played Taps on my bagpipes but I easily learned the tune the week before and believe it sounded authentic. Not always do tunes translate well to the bagpipes. After 15 seconds or so of Taps, I launched into Amazing Grace. My pipes sounded excellent. This probably stems from all the bagpipe playing from the morning and the day before.

In total I was in Gaston for a little over an hour. I believe the guests really appreciated my playing. I received many heartfelt comments.

House Pub Crawl Led by Oregon Bagpiper

March 16th, 2008

I participated in a gig last week which was a fund raiser for a local Portland school. Essentially, a group of families offered to host a makeshift house pub crawl to raise money for their children’s elementary school. I met up with the group at house #1 shortly after the party kicked off. The 20 odd amount of school supporters where enjoying Whiskey, Guinness and other popular Irish drinks. I piped a couple of Jigs and Hornpipes (some lively fast tunes) which are always appropriate for Parties.

After last call was announced, it was my duty to lead them to the next destination which was a short down hill walk. I played some traditional marches which seemed to arouse the crowd, tunes like Scotland the Brave. Once they safely arrived, my duty as the Portland Bagpiping liaison concluded for the evening.

After packing up my pipes, I went downstairs and enjoyed a few pints and some Irish food. It was a fun evening.

Portland Bagpipe Player Strikes Again in NW Portland

March 6th, 2008

Sunday last week around 12 in the afternoon, I received a call inquiring about my availability to perform at Touche restaurant in downtown NW Portland. It was short notice and they wanted a Portland Bagpipe player there at 4PM. Remembrances and funerals such as this event usually occur unexpectedly and without much time for preparation, so I always try to accommodate short notice requests. Rarely do I turn people away.

This was one of the simpler performances I have performed my bagpipes at. I was requested to take my position at the back of the banquet hall, play Amazing Grace three times through and then march out on Scotland the Brave. I spent more time tuning my pipes then playing. I am always eager to share my musical talents with anyone wishes to listen but I understand when the request is for just a couple of minutes.

Funny story about this gig. My Portland Metro Bagpipe Band had a practice on Saturday, the day before this gig. After an exhausting performance, we all headed over to Concordia Ale House to grab dinner and a pint. Some of our pipe cases look the same, so when you through them in a pile you might end up grabbing someone else’s when you leave. This is exactly what happened. I arrived at the gig on Sunday, opened my pipe case and to my chagrin I found a foreign set of pipes. My buddy Pat Case in the band grabbed mine when he left by accident. Lucky for me he is a great player and his bagpipes were well set. Still, playing someone’s pipes is like wearing someone else’s underwear-you only do it when absolutely necessary.

Vancouver WA Bagpipe Funeral with 2 Bagpipers

March 5th, 2008

First and foremost, I apologize for not blogging this Vancouver WA bagpiper gig earlier (actually I did write it but somehow was erased). I was contacted by my close bagpipe friend who now resides in Tacoma Washington to play for a friend of a friend’s grandpa’s funeral. A decorated war veteran, the person whom I never met seemed to be a very well-respected man. Naturally, I felt quite honored to play my bagpipes at his Vancouver WA funeral.

Because the gig was somehow double booked I got to play with a colleague of mine Rob Barrick, who I refer people to when I cannot play for their performance. He is an excellent Portland Bagpipe player and a celebrated musician. He performs with his Irish Band here in Portland (cannot remember the name). You might have hear him play.

Arriving promptly at 11AM, I noticed we were dressed in starkly different kilts and attire. I was sporting a McDonald tartan and him, a Buchanan I believe. A bit of maroon and a lot of green. But what mattered most was we both played our bagpipes well and in unison. Amazing Grace was played at the recession. But in between I got to dust off the old Skye Boat Song, which I hadn’t played in quite some time. Even the alternate endings on this tune didn’t seem to through us. We also warmed up with some common mass band tunes as guests arrived to show their support for their fallen comrade.

The performance went a bit longer than the hour I am contracted to play but it was well worth it judging from all the compliments we received. I even had to promise a sweet old lady I would play at her funeral.

Other Vancouver WA Bagpiper Gigs:
Bagpipes Vancouver WA
Bagpiper Vancouver WA
Vancouver WA Bagpipe Funeral
Vancounver Washington Bagpiper

Beaverton Oregon Bagpiper Funeral

February 3rd, 2008

I was at again for a bagpipe funeral in the Portland area. What was different about this time was I was instructed to bring back up. The son of recently deceased mother requested I add another Portland piper and Portland snare drummer to my arsenal. Rarely do I get the chance to get other bagpipers involved in my personal gigs. Usually, groups are reserved for band competitions and band performances.

At 3PM sharp, piper Chris Bollinger (Portland Metro Pipe Band member) and drummer Ted McKnigt (also from Portland Metro Pipe Band). We were instructed to play an opening tune Green Hills of Tyrol as we marched to the stage. After the short trip, we remained at ease on stage in front of the mourners for about 40 minutes. It was the longest time I have spent on stage idling in front of a large audience.

After what felt like an eternity, Chris and I struck up our bagpipes and played Amazing Grace, twice through together and last time with myself playing the solo. Other than our pipes being completely out of tune initially (for not playing for 40 minutes), we played well.

Once the moment of silenced had elapsed, I gave the signal to Ted and called out Scotland the Brave. We played in one time in place and on the repeat we marched out from the same direction we entered.

Another well executed Portland Bagpipe performance I felt. One of the grandsons was so impressed, he asked if I would perform at his upcoming bagpipe wedding in March.

Hood River Bagpipe Wedding

January 27th, 2008

Of all the days Oregon Department of Transportation decides to close the I84 corridor between Portland and Hood River, it just had to be on Saturday, January 26, the day I was scheduled to perform at a Wedding in Hood River Oregon. Although there wasn’t a hint of snow at lower elevations in Portland, it was dumping in the Gorge. I wasn’t aware of this until I received a call from Kim’s sister informing me of the dismal road conditions. They kindly acknowledged the driving difficulty and candidly told me they would understand if I wouldn’t be able to play my bagpipes at the Wedding.

Of all the Portland Bagpiping Gigs I have performed at thus far, never once have I missed a Wedding, Funeral or Party. And this wasn’t going to be my first. So I braced myself for the worst and took the Washington equivalent of I84. It took twice as long as normal but I arrived safe and sound. Although, a wee bit late, the best man hadn’t arrived because he too was driving from Portland. Luckily, I had plenty of time to warm my pipes and play a few tunes for the reception.

Once the Wedding was underway, I played Amazing Grace as the entrance tune for the bridesmaid and groomsmen. When the bride was ready, I escorted her in with Scotland the Brave. It was a short waltz to the front of the alter where everyone was waiting for her. I had literally just started the tune and already I was in front of the crowd facing the audience.

Halfway through the ceremony I was instructed to play Highland Laddie which is a very nostalgic tune for me. Highland Laddie was one of the first tunes I learned on my Portland Bagpipe and favorite amongst mass bands at Highland Games.

Once the Bride and Groom said their “I do’s” and kissed, I marched in from the back with Mari’s Wedding, turned to face the crowd and ushered them out with the same tune.

Afterward, they requested I play something a bit more lively which I quickly obliged. I choose some Jig/Hornpipes, Strasthspey/Reels and my bands Medley compilation of tunes. All in all, I played for another 20 minutes. Once I put my pipes down, my mind focused on how to make it safely home. I kindly thanked everyone and set off my long track home. What should have taken me 2 hours turned into 5 hours. Lots of other commuters shared the same goal as me; final destination, Portland.

Fortunately, I made it in time and kept my present gig record. It takes more than a bit of snow to slow a Scotsman on his way to an Oregon Bagpiping Wedding. Portland Bagpiper playing in front of Hood River WeddingPortland Bagpiper playing at PrecessionPortland Bagpiper playing at PrecessionPortland Bagpiper posing for pictures with the recently married wedding couple

Portland Bagpiping at OHSU Event

January 27th, 2008

This was a last minute event which I was called upon to play my bagpipes. The event took place at OHSU (on the Waterfront) last Tuesday and was a OHSU benefit for people with Down Syndrome. There were hordes of people on hand to witness and participate in the special fund raiser. My task centered around the various works of art produced by the children with DS. There were approximately 12 different murals and as each of the artists tore down the construction paper masking their creation, I was there to play and pose for photos. The preference of bagpipe tune selection was a Slow Air. I choose Dark Island, which one of my favorites and is very traditional.

After playing for the unveiling of the 12 pieces of art, my duties concluded for the evening. Overall, it was a great event and I wish I had more information to share regarding the specifics of the event. This is one of the unfortunate parts about bagpiping Portland events; sometimes I am reached on such short notice, I never get the opportunity to research or ask questions.

At any rate, I had great fun and organization did a wonderful job.

Washington Bagpipe Funeral in Longview

January 21st, 2008

Rich, the director of a funeral home in Longview Washington contacted me through the Portland Bagpiper website and inquired about my availability and whether I was willing to drive to Longview form my Portland home. I am always eager to spend a weekend outside Portland or even just a few hours, performing for an audience who is likely to not have heard me play my bagpipes. So I greatfully accepted. I enjoyed the drive (although getting lost slightly) to arrive plenty of time before performing.

I am getting really good at funerals. Open with Amazing Grace, then as guests are filing out I play traditional marches. This Longview Washington funeral gig was no different. But instead of filing out, the patrons just sat there intently listening. I would like to guess my playing was so moving and mesmerizing, it kept them transfixed in their seats longer than expected. Or maybe it was because the Father was about to make another announcement. At any rate, judging from the praise I received upon leaving, I would like to assume the former was more accurate.

Portland Bagpipe Funeral at Willamette National Cemetery

January 21st, 2008

I am getting somewhat accustomed to the layout at Willamette National Cemetery. For first times, it get can be a daunting task finding a small grave plot amongst thousands. Fortunately, it was my third or fourth performance in the last few months navigating the the twists and turns is becoming increasingly familiar.

The women who hired me was referred to me by the organizer of Marys Woods in Lake Oswego. The congregation and staff at Mari’s Woods enjoyed my playing enough for a future recommendation. I really appreciate referrals, it tells me my bagpiping in Portland is becoming more and more appreciated.

As is customary at most funerals, I opened with Amazing Grace, playing it through three times. Upon completion, the pastor made directed everyone where to meet for refreshments. As guests stood to leave, I played Green Hills of Tyrol and When the Battles O’er. two very traditional war marches.

As I walked to my car, I started thinking about my wool quilt and whether it was adequate protection against the forces of nature. My response, yes, as long as the wind factor is minimal.