Saturday, January 17, 2004

The South Bay Mystery Piper


I am just back from doing a funeral in Lomita and also, once again, cleaning up after the South Bay Mystery Piper.

This has been going on for years and it's happened several times now. I'll show up to do a gig somewhere in the South Bay area and the funeral director or the wedding co-ordinator or the priest or minister will react when I appear as if the plague has just arrived. They're barely civil, but as the family's hired me they have to put up with me.

So I play my pieces and when the ceremony is over, I'm their long-lost brother. The same people are smiling, shaking my hand, asking for my card, and -- often -- apologizing.

And so it went today. The family hired me last week. Two days ago the family called to say that I wouldn't be allowed play in the church, only outside. So would I play just before and after. Fair enough. I usually only do the processional and recessional anyway. So I do that. Afterward the priest comes up and thanks me
and says if he'd known it would sound like that he would've had me play more. And in the church. The pipes sounded "really sweet", he said. "Not the way that other fellow who played here sounded."

Now, I don't turn down compliments. I enjoy all I can get. But the truth is I am not God's gift to piping. I'm your basic, average, every-day piper. So whoever this other guy is, he must be absolutely dreadful.

Nobody ever remembers his name when I ask. I would really be interested to know.