Monday’s Musical Musings – no baby news yet!

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I may as well get on with our regularly scheduled programming since I don’t have a baby to talk about yet!!  John was bit by the “pregnancy craving bug” today in the same manner that I am usually affected — he was reading a book (Game of Thrones), and someone fed a whole roast chicken to his wolf under the table, and it made him want Kentucky Fried Chicken 🙂  So he quickly ran out with Claire and got us all some of that for lunch.  Yummy!  We keep thinking each night might be my last night of real sleep, so again he slept in the room with Greer allowing me to sleep in.  Good thing, because she apparently woke up crying around 5am, but with John in there she managed to go back to sleep til 8:30am, so that’s good.  I didn’t get up til after 10, having woken up a few times and then rolling over to go back to sleep. So nice.  Pretty soon here I’ll be up half the night, Lord willing, for a few months at the least, so I am happy for any sleep I can get!!

We have some fun musical activities coming up in August – but until I’m actually making music again once the pregnancy has passed, I will talk about the past 🙂  I’m sure by now if you’re someone who doesn’t know me personally you probably have read that I play the bagpipes.  I started playing on my dad’s recommendation –  which he made at some Highland Games in California when my family and I were there supporting John’s brother and father as they ran the “Armstrong Clan Tent” – about 6 years ago.  I was 30 and had just delivered baby number three a week earlier, and for some reason the idea caught ahold of me and wouldn’t let go.  About 5 months later, John bought me a practice chanter for Christmas, and I started going to lessons (for which my parents even sent money to help encourage me) twice a week with the Pipe Major of the Monterey Bay Pipes and Drums.  I have played the piano since I was four, and the flute since I was ten, keeping up with both over the years, occasionally playing for weddings, playing at church, etc.  So in about a month I started bugging my teacher to help me order a set of pipes, and at the same time he let me start trying to practice on an old set of his pipes.  Four months into my lessons I was playing my first solo gig at a Navy function on base, and then about a month later competed in my first Highland Games with the Monterey Bay Pipe Band.  I competed another month later with the band at the same games where, a year before, my dad had had his bright idea 🙂  Only by then, I was a few weeks pregnant with number four, and my enthusiasm started to wane 🙂

As soon as I had baby number 4, the desire was back, to practice and play as much as possible, and I marched in a Memorial Day Parade up in Rhode Island about 6 weeks after I had that baby.  We moved to Hawaii right afterwards where I marched a week later in the Fourth of July Parade in Kailua with the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii.  I played with them for the next three years, dropping down on my piping again when I was too far along in number five’s pregnancy to really pipe well.  I taught beginning piping lessons as well and really enjoyed encouraging people to finally get after their life-long dreams of playing the pipes!!  After being in Hawaii a year, I ran into an Irish rock band in one of the downtown Irish pubs, and after a few months of talking about it and practicing with them, I eventually started playing with them on Wednesday and Saturday nights at two different Honolulu Irish pubs.  I picked up the Irish whistle as well, in order to be able to play along with them on more tunes, since the pipes are rather limited in their range, and they only play truly in one key, and can play in other keys with a bit of discordance.  I bought a special pipe chanter to have my “A” be a true “concert A” pitch in order to play with the band, along with a clip on mic and such, since playing with a drum set and electric guitars meant we actually had to mic the pipes!!

Here I am with the band at our Saturday night venue – O’Toole’s Irish Pub in downtown Honolulu.  The other place we played was in Waikiki – Kelly O’Neil’s.

So I thought I’d link to a few videos of the pub band this week – Doolin Rakes, they’re called, after the Irish town of Doolin – and then next week I believe I have a few videos of the Celtic Pipes and Drums.  If you’ve known me a while then you may have seen some of these videos already through facebook or whatever, but in place of cute pictures of a newborn baby (now three days “overdue!”) these will have to suffice to make my post a bit more interesting today 🙂

This first video might be the only song some of you might recognize — It’s called “Shippin’ Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys, a band out of Boston.  We taped several videos in June, 2011, about a month before I left Hawaii, so I think all four of these are actually from that night.

This next one is a slow waltz called “Si Bheag Si Mhor” – it has various spellings, but that’s one way to do it.

We really had fun with this one, but the guy holding my video camera was standing really close to the drummer and occasionally got too much of the drumset, and he sometimes just looks like he got distracted 🙂  There are two instrumental tunes on which I’m piping, and then the band sings “Rising of the Moon,” a popular Irish song, while I’m on the whistle.

One final tune – a slip-jig called  “Butterfly,” on which I play whistle and our bass player breaks out the mandolin.

Hope you enjoyed!  Better yet, maybe I’ll get to start playing again soon with another fun band like this in South Carolina, and we’ll have some newer videos! We shall see!!

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