wonder what a bagpipe bag really looks like, under the cover?
Well, here's my new Ross bag (of course, it gets covered up with
a beautiful pipe bag cover when I play, black and silver); this is a
I always keep a spare around in case the bag I'm using begins to leak. Hard to play a bagpipe with a leaky bag!
know, it takes a lot of bagpipe playing to wear out a kilt - but I've
done it! My Royal Stewart kilt may not look like it, but it's not quite
as bright and colorful as when I bought it in 1999. So I bought a new
Royal Stewart kilt, to look my best for my customers!
The folks at Scottish Treasures
, here in San Diego, had it made for me. If you need to buy or rent a kilt, I highly recommend them!
I played for a cultural fair at the Francis Parker school
(I was there last year as well), and one of the young students there
studies Highland dance with Chrissy Ambler. Here's a photo of us:
She danced the Highland Fling and the Sword Dance - 3 times each! Ah, the energy of youth ....
My moment of glory is not over!
Back in Oct. 2004, I had quite a piping week. I won the West Coast
Regional piping championship for the 2nd time, then during the next
week, I appeared with the San Diego Symphony playing bagpipes for an
orchestra piece (see below
Well, a book was just published, "The San Diego Symphony from Overture
to Encore" by Melvin H. Goldzband
and I'm mentioned in there, when they're discussing the piece I
played. "An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise":
Hmm ... I don't think of myself as "tootling away" on my
pipes - but I'm glad for the mention. Maybe he'll put my name in
the 2nd edition... -)
San Diego Reader newspaper contacted me a while ago with some
questions, and wrote a few paragraphs about me for their holiday issue
(Dec. 5, 2013) in their article "70+ Great Ways to Celebrate the
On their website, they show the full picture (that's an Army Honor Guard member in the background):http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/2013/dec/02/57015/
On a different note, I played for a dance exhibition at the Mingei International Museum
in June of 2012 with the Highland Fusion
dance troupe. I just got some pictures of the event to share.
Entering at the beginning
Here I am playing the fiddle (!) for Leslie and Elizabeth. I've
played violin and viola for many years, but don't often get to combine
it with my bagpiping!
Two dancers wearing the Aboyne dress.
What a busy weekend! Six engagements to play in 3 days, but they were all a lot of fun.
One wedding requested a tune that was new to me, "Caledonia"; here's a link to it sung by Dougie MacLean:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8IwBlgxyss
I adapted it for the pipes, and played if for them at their wedding and reception. Very nice tune!
I also got to play for the San Diego British Car Show down near Seaport Village:http://sandiegobritishcarday.org/portal/
used to own some old English sports cars, so I love the chance to walk
around the car show, pose with cars, and play some good music.
never know where you'll get inspiration from, to learn a new tune!
Of all things, I was playing the computer game "Bioshock
Infinite"; in it, the hymn "Let the Circle Be Unbroken" is part of the
soundtrack, and plays an important role in the plot as well. After
humming it for a while, I discovered I could play it on the bagpipes!
So I've been doing so recently; it's just a pretty melody that
fits so well.
And I heard the hymn "Jerusalem" in an old
play "The Star Wagon". As always, if I like a piece of music, I'll see
if it fits on the pipes, and it does! So I have a couple new
tunes to play for folks/
May, I help out the Chula Vista Police Department with their awards
ceremony. They were nice enough to give me a certificate of
another St. Patrick's Day has come and gone! There's a piper's
joke: what do you call the day after St. Patrick's Day? - St. Advil's
Day! There's a lot of piping to do on St. Patrick's Day and it
can wear you out!
I played at the Tilted Kilt
in Mission Valley again (I was there last year, too), then I got to
play for a wonderful wedding at the Navel Base Chapel in Point Loma.
Here's a picture of me, being an outlaw piper:
"Sign? What sign?"
Of course, the church event was the wedding, so I wasn't disturbing anything ... -)
Not many updates recently - the first few months of the year are usually quiet, until St. Patrick's Day, of course.
I played for a wedding out at Los Willows this past week. The photographer, from Shadowcatcher Imagery, caught a cute moment with the bride and groom:
again, I was able to help out someone at Comic-Con! The director
of a Scottish independent movie - a romantic comedy/thriller about
comic books and collectors - asked me to help out at the Comic-Con
Friday night showing of their film "Electric Man":
Please see their website at http://www.electricmanmovie.com/
I led folks into the theater at show time, then stayed and enjoyed the movie as well.
a video of the "Electric Man" team at Comic-Con 2012; here's a link to
the video where I'm leading folks through the hotel to the movie:
I helped teach a class at UCSD - the professor, Ben Power
(http://www.benpower.info/bio.html), who plays various smallpipes and
Irish whistle, gave a class on traditional Irish and Scottish piping.
He asked if I'd come in and demonstrate the Great Highland Pipes, as
well as discuss their background. It was a lot fun trying to
share as much information as I could in the time alloted. I think the
students enjoyed it too.
did a Memorial Day concert on board the USS Midway on May 26, playing
the National Anthem at the start. Three Dog Night were the
headliners for the concert! I could see lots of folks recording
my piping; if a video pops up on youTube, I'll post a link here.
seems every few years, my wife has to make a new pipe bag cover for me;
the sun and weather wears out the velvet, I guess.
Here's what it looks like at first:
and when finished:
It's tricky making something that irregular, and so well-fitted to my bagpipes. She's the best bagpipe tailor around. -)
and I keep on learning new tunes for folks. Recently, I was asked
(again) to play Ave Maria (Schubert) on the pipes for a ceremony. In
the past, I told folks it wasn't really ssuitable, because it needs
some notes that just don't exist on the bagpipes. But I sat down and
worked out a very nice arrangement for the bagpipes. So now, I
can offer to play Ave Maria, when appropriate!
played for a memorial at the new Miramar National Cemetery
yesterday; the ceremony included a beautiful horse-drawn carriage from
Homeward Bound ; their website is: http://www.homewardboundfuneralcarriages.com/
Beautiful carriage and horse!
I keep learning tunes for customers - an Irish wedding this weekend
request "O Luaidh" (Oh My Dearest Dear), and an old classic "Dear Old
Donegal". Pretty tunes!
Each year, I play for the Scottish Treasures shop in Coronado; they have an open house with music. I play pipes, there's usually a a Celtic band (this year, the Heloise Love
band), and then I play for the Highland dancers from Chrissy Ambler's
school of Highland dance. Here's a photo of some of the dancers:
It's a real treat to perform with such accomplished dancers.
did a wedding at South Beach in Coronado. Here I am,
perched on the rocks playing - folks have to park a ways away,
and the bagpipes are a nice signal where to find the wedding on a beach!
Other pipers have to play in the rain, snow, and fog, but I love San Diego weather!
I discovered a few more interesting tunes that fit on the bagpipes:
Gaudeamus Igitur - this is the 'academic tune' that's used in movies
behind graduation scenes (also in Brahms' Academic Overture!)
Love Me Tender - Elvis's song!
For once, I was able to go to the Costa Mesa Highland
Games during the Memorial Day weekend. Usually, I'm playing for
customers during the holiday; this year, I reserved a day to go to the
Games and pick up some equipment from all the Scottish vendors
there. (And I got to all my piping friends and listen to some
great music, too!)
Not many pipers manage to wear out a Prince Charlie jacket by just
playing for customers, but I did! It looked to me like my jacket
(purchased in 1995) was beginning to fade in all the sunlight it gets
exposed to. I decided to replace it this year, and to see if I could
buy another set of ghille brogues (shoes) as well. Here
The new shoes are actually patent leather ghille
brogues - much shinier than the photos show! So now I can rival
the military officers when I'm performing at a Navy or Marine event. -)
I always want to look my best for my customers - it's a part of what
people expect, as well as good piping, so I do everything I can to keep
my uniform in shape. It's not cheap to stay looking good!
I've been very busy the past couple of months! I've helped out at
the SDSU graduation ceremonies for the past couple of years; it's
always great seeking folks arrive at their goal after years of study.
I've been arranging a lot of tunes for the bagpipes recently:
When the Saint Go Marching In, to lead wedding
guests to the reception.
Semper Fidelis by John Sousa & Sea
Soldiers (for a US Marine dining ceremony)
A John Denver medley - "For Bobbi", "Country Roads",
"Rocky Mountain High"
the Irish National Anthem for a wedding
It turns out there are a number of John Sousa marches that seem to fit
well on the bagpipes!
One more St. Patrick's Day come and gone! Here in
San Diego, we had a downright summery St. Patrick's - playing in the
warm sun by the Blarney Stone pub. It makes me think of playing the
Chicago St. Patrick's Day parade back in the
1970s; ice and snow, frozen bagpipes and frozen fingers ... all in all,
I prefer San Diego. -)
Recently I did a wedding where the couple had their dog carry in
the rings; here's a picture of me with the ringbearer (he's the one
wearing the tuxedo, sort of):
Once he brought in the rings (attached to his collar), he
didn't want to leave. But they were prepared - the groom threw a dog
biscuit back down the aisle and that did it. -)
Busy times! One fun job I had was to play at
the English Car Show at Fairbrooks Farms on Sept. 27. I used to own
Austin-Healeys, so I really enjoyed seeing all the wonderful cars while
I strolled the field playing. Here's a photo of me framed by the chrome
grill of a Rolls-Royce (!):
What a great picture! The photography is by Douglas Gates of
Gates Photography (www.gatesphotography.com);
he does weddings, parties, all sort of special events. I highly
More Aug 2009
I had a bit of a landmark recently - I got to play 3
weddings in one day! I'm very careful about playing multiple jobs in
one day, especially in the summer when the heat and effort can really
wear you out, and I'm always concerned with timing, so I can do a good
job for everyone. But these weddings worked out perfectly in
terms of timing (10 AM/2 PM/6 PM) and location (all within a mile or so
of home, so I didn't worry about driving), and the weather cooperated
marvelously! Everything went great and I felt as good at the
end of the day as when I started! -)
And to top things off, it was on my birthday, so I got to join
in on everyone's celebrations as well. -)
I'm still keeping very busy - this has probably been my best year
I do a lot of military ceremonies, and since I was in the Navy
(1975-81), I always feel at home working with them. Recently
I got to do a "change of command" ceremony which was especially
familiar - the commander who was leaving the facility was on the same
sort of ship as I was, at the same time. Also, the facility he was
leaving was a communications station, full of folks doing exactly the
same job I did when I was in the Navy, so I could even talk to them
about their job. -)
The command was nice enough to send me a letter of appreciation
Not much news - I just keep on playing for folks! Another St.
Patrick's Day come and gone - wonderful weather for playing the pipes
in San Diego in March!
I got some very interesting songs requests for a wedding I'm doing; not
your usual pipe tunes. As long as a tune 'fits' nicely on the
pipes (in my judgement), I'm willing to give it a try!
As Time Goes By
- from the great film "Casablanca".
Let It Be Me
Well, although I stay busy playing for folks, unless something
interesting happens, I guess I don't write down much news!
Anyway, my wife made another
bag cover for me (the gold/black one faded after 2 years of playing in
the bright sunlight):
Silver and black, this time!
Busy times! St. Patrick's Day has come and gone - lots of parties
Recently I've gotten some questions about playing the Pachelbel Canon
in D at weddings. It's a longish piece, so I made a recording of
some portions of it and put it here
I'll put a little more discussion of it on my Music
page, under "Traditional Processionals".
Last June, I did a wedding at the Pine Hill Lodge in Julian.
Well, the wedding was covered in the Feb. 2008 issue of "San Diego Bride and Groom
magazine (on page 48). They even published a picture of me and
included my name. :)
Well, I'm coming to the end of another year. I had
Federal jury duty in December, which interfered with playing for
But I got to do a Christmas party with a drummer and dancer; the guests
were really enthusiastic (and skilled) at joining in on the dancing!
Happy Holidays to everyone!
For Christmas, my sister-in-law embroidered a beautiful bookmark for me:
It even has the right sort of tartan for
me, doesn't it? Although my beard isn't as brown now, as it used
to be ... :)
My wife made the most beautiful green and black Prince Charlie jacket
and vest for me:
I did a wedding where they requested both a snare drummer and a
tenor drummer, at Cuvier Park in La Jolla. Here's a picture of us
all hard at work:
That's Gloria Audett on the left, playing the tenor drum, and Aaron
Mars on snare drum in the center. We're wearing our Cameron of
Erracht kilts, though it's hard to see in the bright sunlight.
What a pretty place for a wedding (see the setup behind us)!
This is maybe the busiest month I've ever had! It turns
out I had 22 (!) engagements in August. Whew!! And then the heat ... -)
I adapted some more tunes for the pipes, for different customer
Mull of Kintyre
- this tune was
very popular with Paul McCartney's recording, where he uses a pipe band.
Auld Lang Syne
- classic Scots
She Moved Through the Fair
- a lovely Irish tune.
I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
beautiful Irish song.
I played a job at Mission Bay where I had to arrive by boat
while playing (the things I do for my customers!):
It was a lot of fun playing at the beach, as folks built rafts to sail
in a race!
Another busy month - a couple of weekends where I had three
events to play in one day! But I'm always careful about timing,
to make sure I never let anyone down by being late (I never have!)
There are some new pieces, requested by customers, under "Music
1. A little thing I call the
2. Another common wedding piece, "Water Music" by Handel
I played at the San Diego Comic Con for a campaign for the TV show
"Stargate: Atlantis". A Scottish character in the show, Dr. Carson
Beckett, was killed in the show, but some avid fans have been running a
campaign to bring him back. Well it looks like it worked! :
(they even mention me in the article, but
not by name ...)
Here's a picture from the event:
One of the folks running the campaign did a Highland fling, as I played
in the lobby! Notice the "Save Carson" T-shirt!
You know, I'm a pretty busy bagpiper (and I like it that way) -
so busy that I've worn out yet another bagpipe cover!. You know
it takes most pipers
to wear out a bagpipe bag cover? Well, I'm busy, and they
wear out faster. -)
My wife, bless her soul, made me a new pipe bag cover, with exactly the
trim I asked for. Here it is:
Isn't that gorgeous!
Imagine how tricky it is to sew something for such an odd shape as the
bagpipe, with holes sticking out every which way...
More June stuff
I've just had the busiest 3 days of my piping career yet!
Thursday, a 6 hour stint at Pechanga Casino (not playing all that much,
but still a long time to be waiting), then 6 1/2 hours on Friday at the
Cottonwood Golf club playing at hole 17 for every golfing group that
came by - and this really was
enormous amount of playing; I'm proud I was able to keep up my stamina
all day. Then 3 jobs on Saturday!
No wonder I wore out my bagpipe bag cover!
I get so many requests for the "Irish Lullaby" (Bing Crosby sang
it; it's also known, I think, as "Toor-a Loor-a Looral"), I decided to
put a music sample up at the top of my Music Samples
I've been busy! St. Patrick's Day has come and gone.
I added an Irish tune on my Music Samples page:
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Because I often play for Irish ceremonies, I decided to get a green
Kilkenny jacket and vest; I think it goes nicely with the red Royal
Stewart kilt, and seems more Irish. I put a photo on my Photos
you'd like me to wear it at your event, just let me know!
I also adapted some melodies from the movie "Titanic" for the pipes;
I've had some requests to use this music for bride's processionals, so
here it is!
I performed for a Cultural Celebration at UCSD this month, working
with Leslie Crewes, a Highland dancer from the dance troupe Highland Fusion
, and with a
drummer, Eric Mabrey. Here's a picture of us, after we finished
And just for fun, I added a picture of
my two Samoyed dogs to the Photos
page. When I'm not practicing, or playing an engagement, they get
a lot of attention. But they do shed a lot of white hair on my nice
Prince Charlie jacket! -)
Well, another new year! I'm beginning to get lots of
wedding bookings for the year; it's always fun to help out at a wedding
In fact, I'll be at a booth at the bridal fair at the SD Convention
Center later this month (Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007):
I'll be at the booth for the store Scottish
from Coronado; they rent kilts for weddings as well as
selling tartan, etc. It'll be booth #1543. See
Hey I got to play at a wedding for
Well, not really ... but aren't they cute? I played for a Navy
retirement ceremony, and the dolphins were nearby. If you look at
my pipes, you can see the bag isn't inflated - I didn't want to alarm
the dolphins. -) Remarkable animals; I'd never met
any close-up before.
Another day, I played for a very romantic occasion - a wedding proposal
on the beach! When they first met, the couple was at the beach
and that day, there was a bagpiper on the beach playing. The
groom-to-be wanted to recreate the moment for his proposal, so he asked
me to come wandering down the beach at a certain time. We
scoped-out the area a week before, figured out where and when for me to
come along. I showed up at the right time and began making my way down
the beach playing. By the time I got close, I couldn't tell if it
was him or not, they were kissing so thoroughly! It all worked
out very nicely.
For some reason, this September has been the busiest month
I've ever had! Lots of weddings and parties to play for.
One birthday party was for a lady who had played the pipes in her
youth, at the University of Iowa (they used to have a "Ladies Pipe
Band") - we surprised her at a local restaurant for her 70th birthday
party. Her husband asked if I could play, of all things, the
"Iowa Fight Song" and "On Wisconsin" on the bagpipes! Well, I
knew how "On Wisconsin" went, and a quick net search for the
"Iowa Fight Song" gave me the melody, so they got their surprise the
way they wanted it! -)
Another wedding was special - last New Year's Eve, I played (as a
surprise) at a party that was also the host's wedding proposal to his
lady. Well, this month I got to do the wedding for them too! It
makes me feel like I'm seeing my job through to the end. -)
A customer requested
tune Bells of St. Marys
wedding processional, so I put a recording up on the website.
I've been asked to play at a college ceremony, adapting a
familiar school song
bagpipes. It's nice how many good melodies fit so well onto the
I've worked a few times with folks from the Celtic music group Highland Way
They're at many of the Highland Games and their music is a lot of fun!
I did a wedding recently where the photographer Tony
took some pictures of me and was kind enough to share them
I've put them on my "Photos
page at the top.
I've been meaning to put up some music samples of the types of tunes I
play for folks before and after a ceremony, when I'm sort of being
"background music" and playing fast, lively stuff. Here's a link
to the "Medley
section in my "Music Samples" page.
I wore the Border Patrol kilt to a memorial for police officers, in
Balboa Park on May 10. Here's a picture
the kilt - it's blue/green, with a yellow stripe accent.
Well, St. Patrick's day has come and gone! I spent the day playing for
folks, mostly in good weather, but some rain got in the way. I
performed with some dancers from the Highland Fusion dance troupe
(www.highlandfusion.com) at the Forum Shopping Center; here's a picture
Recently a few customers have asked for the wedding music used in
Braveheart. I transcribed the music for the Scottish pipes (Braveheart
uses the Irish pipes, which have a wider range than the Scottish
Highland pipes, and are more of an "indoor" pipe). Here's a clip
of me playing the music
- first the theme given by the flute/tinwhistle, then the pipe theme,
an orchestral bridge, and back to the first two themes - all on one
I've been doing a lot of birthday parties, and I usually surprise folks
when I tell them that Happy Birthday
can be played on the bagpipes, so I added it to my Music Samples
With all the military functions and weddings I've been doing, I decided
to add some sound clips of more Patriotic
: the Army anthem, the Marine Corp Hymn, and Anchors Aweigh.
Also I added a lovely processional song, Flora MacDonald's Love Song
I've added some Testimonials
on my "About Me
Also, I just finished my first Bridal Bazaar fair; here's a picture of
me at my booth:
I've just added a few new tunes, Flower
and Danny Boy
, to my
"Music Samples" page. Also, I added a "Wedding Ideas" section to
the Music Samples
I changed my email address from firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any trouble with email@example.com, feel free to use the
old address (but there shouldn't be any trouble).