Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Always be Prepared

Had an interesting experience last Sunday that I'd like to share. I had the pleasure of playing with Alex and drummer Matt Trecartin for a show aboard the Norweigian Dawn Cruise ship that was docked in Halifax for the day. It was a 45 minute show with the Amethyst Dancers of Nova Scotia where we had a couple of piping sets and several dances to play.

Alex and I practiced together for a few days to make sure we had our settings and tunes in line so as not to be an embarrasment to ourselves and we spent some time over the days before just setting up the pipes so they would sound good. Yes, it is an advantage to have your piping partner at home as you can get the pipes out when you want so that made the setup a bit easier. I have always been uneasy about playing anywhere as I was brought up to play like it was the gold medal no matter where you have your pipes out.

We were to arrive by 1:45, board the ship at 2pm and the show started at 2:30. With all the trouble nowadays with security, this took a lot longer than it should have and we got on board at approximately 2:20. I asked where was our room for tuning and they didn't know what I was talking about so I explained that this was written in the email and we needed a room and hopefully 10 minutes would be anough to set the pipes as we were not going to get to touch them up for the duration of the show. We finally got a room just a little ways away and then the technician said the show was starting in 4 minutes, which I proceeded to tell him "No it's not". When the boss came in I explained we needed a few minutes, not long and the dancers also had to get into their various costumes as well. He agreed and the show started just 10 minutes late, which was good, as a lot of the passengers had not yet arrived at their seats for the same security reasons.

The point of this whole story is this. We went out and played and I felt the pipes were very good and was quite happy at the end of the show. As waited at the gangway for all of the cast to arrive (there was also 14 dancers I believe and we had to get on and off the boat together) various people came up and gave thanks and thought the show was nice etc. However, one fellow began to talk to us in an obvious Glasgow accent. He was on vacation with his wife and only moments later did I learn that he was now retired but was a former piper in the First Grade Denny and Dunipace Pipe Band from Scotland. Here we were in the land of nowhere but out there in the crowd was a guy who would have known if we had just fired up the pipes and done a substandard Job. Sorry about the photo, the kind lady that was taking pictures just couldn't get close enough to get a better shot.

Walking off the ship, I said to Alex, "That is the 100% reason why I insist on getting a room to set the pipes to ensure that under the conditions I can do the best job possible, becuase YOU NEVER KNOW WHO"S WATCHING OR LISTENING" You don't win a prize for playing at a nice little piping gig but when you're in your kilt performing in public, your reputation is always on the line and you can lose it in a heartbeat. I'm glad that I was taught that important lesson as a young boy and that I didn't just take the gig for granted! Food for thought