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A little about me

Onstage with Cu Dubh at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.
Photo: David Fimbres

Once upon a time (when I was about 12), I was introduced to the bagpipes. I thought they sounded really cool. At the time I was also really into any and all rock and metal … my favorites were Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Metallica, Guns ‘n’ Roses, etc.

So when someone snapped a photo of me playing at the New Hampshire Highland Games in those early days, it should come as no surprise that the image showed me piping away wearing ripped jeans and a Nine Inch Nails tee-shirt. The image was published in the games’ program the following year sporting the caption, “Punk Piper.”

The name stuck, with “Punk Piper” remaining a frequent (and fitting) moniker for years to come.

Many years later, a group of pipers from Ohio saw me performing onstage with the band Cu Dubh at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. I wasn’t wearing a rock tee-shirt or ripped up jeans this time. Instead, I was running, and jumping and spinning around all over the stage.

They dubbed me “Passion Piper”—the name made me laugh, but it definitely stuck—most of all in my head.

So I’ve had a lot of phrases used to describe me in relation to piping—the most appropriate of which all seem to start with the letter ‘p.’

And there’s no doubt about it—when it comes to bagpipes, “passion” hits the nail right on the head. Few things give me more of a thrill than the sound of a brilliantly played pipe.

Among the few, though related, is bringing that passion to others. Whether onstage, in front of a church steeple, or with a student, I don’t want to keep it all to myself. I yearn to share it.

I think part of it goes back to one of the very first circumstances that led to my father asking me if I’d like to start learning the pipes. I’ll go into more details on my background elsewhere, but a large part of it all stems from an early encounter when I was about 10 or 11. My parents took me up to P.E.I. for a short vacation that summer. One of the most memorable events from that trip was a small, harborside concert being put on by a solo piper in Summerside (presumably put on by the College of Piping).

I was completely enthralled by the performance. This was made quite obvious to everyone in attendance as I was jumping up and down all over the place to the sounds of the fellow’s playing. At one point, someone apparently went up to my father and told him:

“… that’s kid’s bitten, you need to get him a set of pipes.”

Well, one thing led to another, and eventually my father followed through with heeding the man’s directions.

Unbeknownst to all of us, that little encounter transformed my life tremendously. It’s an amazing thing, but sadly, I don’t even know who those fellows are (i.e. the piper and the fellow who approached dad). It would be truly amazing if I could meet them one day and tell them what a difference they made in my life (as did my father, of course).

I wish I could shake their hands heartily and say “thank you.” But I can’t.

I’ll never know who they are. So I can never thank them, but hopefully I can do something better. I can carry the passion they helped instill in me to others.

So, “Passion Piper” indeed.

For more information about me, take a gander at:

  • My Background
    A brief rundown of my various experiences in pursuing piping.
  • My Story
    A more in-depth accounting of my exploration of piping.