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Your email will never be sold, and I won't burden you with tons of meaningless drivel (just an occasional spoonful!) I will keep you posted a couple times a month on upcoming shows, music releases,and the occasional free download for fan feedback! I look forward to writing you. Mike "Pops" McGee

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 winds down

Another year has almost passed! There have been many transitions in my household and most have been for the better. While Katy’s passing was a bitter loss, she is in a better place. Other than that we have all kept our health, survived this ragged economy (at least so far) and are doing fairly well.

Record sales are creeping up. The Christmas gig drought has passed and I am getting more bookings. Funny thing about getting gigs and Christmas, if you don’t have a Santa suit they just don’t happen. That’s OK though as it is the best time of the year to be spending with friends and family!

Speaking of Family, my Dad celebrated his 90th birthday this month. I started my grand-niece and my younger brother on the pipes and my younger brother retired from the Phoenix Fire Dept after 35 years.

All in all the McGees have had a very good year and hope that you have as well.

Wishing you a merry and Prosperous New Year,

Pops :-)

Friday, December 10, 2010


December already! Where did the year go? Looking back there have been some changes. I’ve analyzed my wed traffic and dropped non-performing sites. This obviously wasn’t one of those :-). CD Baby .com is turning out to be a great experience. Gigsalad.com has provided me with more leads than I can handle. Thumbtack.com has also been a very good source of gigs. Surprisingly (at least to me) so has Google maps. I find I am using my Droid as much as my laptop now, and it looks like that will only increase with time and new apps from Gigsalad.com.

This coming year I want to release more singles, a couple extended plays, and maybe even an album. We’ll see. I’ll have to balance that with gigs, oh, and with busking. A late 2010 development! Busking in the Park is morphing into Busking on the street (mostly at street festivals and markets). What a gas that is! I still plan to pipe each morning at the park though.

So, may you and your’s have a joyous holiday season, and I’ll see you around!

Pops :-)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Catching up

I had a really great weekend!  Saturday afternoon I piped for a wedding.  Always feels good to be involved in "beginnings".  It was a beautiful ceremony.  Lots of smiling faces!

Later that evening I had the pleasure of piping for a fiftieth Wedding Anniversary!  How great is that combination!  Again, it was a lovely, lively party.  It was wonderful to see the honored couple surrounded by family and friends, celebrating their life together.

Lately I've been doing a lot of piping in the park.  I'm there almost every weekday morning and  I really enjoy it.  I am beginning to think about branching out into other locations, down town, light rail platforms, flea markets, etc.

I've also released a Christmas carol (God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen), and am working to get another one out before December (Oh Come All ye Faithful).   It will be close though because I've got an engagement in Las Vegas, followed by Thanksgiving.  Doesn't leave a lot of November!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No excuses!

OK! No excuses. I have really been sluffing off on the blog posts. I have not been idle though. I have had a full plate with weddings, parties, memorials and yes parades. It is very time consuming to orchestrate this and still pipe and rehearse. However, I do love it.

I’ve got five singles on http://cdbaby.com/artist/michaelnealmcgee now, and I am working very hard to get a Christmas selection up as well. I’d like get the tunes up that I go caroling with. Again though, the issue is time.

I think that this increase in activity is directly attributable to the work I do on Myspace.com, Ilike.com, Facebook.com, Thumbtack.com, this blog site, my websites etc. It just seems that I’m so busy promoting me there is almost no time left to perform! A catch 22 I guess. But again, what fun!

In addition to the local engagements I have a Las Vegas engagement coming up toward the end of November. More on this as it gets closer.

So in the short term I promise to try to stay more current with my posts. Note, I said “try” :-)


Friday, August 06, 2010

Wow!  June 25!  I didn't realize it had been so long.  Well whats been going on this past month?  I've started releasing mp3s through http://cdbaby.com/ .  About one every other week.  These are in turn distributed through Amazon, Itunes, Verizon, Myspace, about 40 e-distributers in total, where they can be downloaded as mp3 singles or even ring tones.  Its a lot of fun!  I'm also working on a Christmas collection to match the tunes I go carrolling with. I hope to realease it by Thanksgiving. 

I've moved at least my Monday and Friday parctice sessions to Road Runner Park.  Usually from 8:30 to 9:30.  It is great fun to watch people trying not to watch you!  And, I've met some interesting individuals.  I'm also going to try going to Squaw Peak Park this weekend, it has sort of a natural ampitheater and I am curious about the acoustic effect with pipes.

That's about it for now, it's time to load up and head for the park!

Have a great day.  :-)  Pops

Friday, June 25, 2010

Here Comes the Bride

Bagpipers are becoming more popular at weddings. Many people are unsure of what the role of the piper at a wedding is, when he should play and what tunes are best.

The Wedding

The bagpiper (at the entrance to the chapel) traditionally pipes guests in and out of the ceremony playing medleys of traditional Scottish marches and aires including Scotland the Brave, etc. It is also traditional but not always requested for the piper to pipe the bride down the aisle, maybe play during the signing of the register and then pipe the newlywed couple out of the ceremony. In my experience the bride has always had a tune in mind for being piped down the aisle and in this part of the world that tune has generally been The Wedding March (“Here comes the Bride”). If asked to play during the signing of the register it is almost always Amazing Grace or occasionally Highland Cathedral.


The next point of call for the piper is to have him play during the taking of the photos (off camera and in the background). Traditionally what the piper plays is at his discretion and will include medleys of marches, jigs and reels to entertain guests. It is often required of the piper to pose in several photos, usually just with the bride and groom and any photos of just men wearing kilts.

At the Reception

The piper is not always required to play at the wedding reception but if he does it is traditional for him to pipe in the guests and then pipe the bride and groom to the top table (and be presented with a whiskey for doing so.) The tune he will pipe the bride and groom in with is usually one that will get guests clapping. Scotland the Brave never fails or Gerry Owen and neither do numbers such as The Minstrel Boy or The Rising of the Moon (AKA The Wearing of the Green).

More is less

As with all piping you must remember the pipes have a loud and commanding presence. Used even slightly to excess they will detract from any service. Therefore this is the most I would consider using a piper at a wedding. Many opt for much less, using the Piper to punctuate the event at one or two key points.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Piper's Field of Dreams

“Build it and they will come.” Great premise for a movie, but a little out of touch with the real world. If you’re looking to turn a buck with your music you need a strategic approach that will expose the maximum number of people possible to all aspects of your performance, clubs, parties, events, and yes recordings. Each is a facet of your profession that must not only shine, but must seamlessly interlink to every other facet.

Your pub performances should be a platform for promoting your party gigs and recordings, etc. just as your recording should promote your pub gigs and parties and your party gigs should promote everything as well.

Do this on the Web with your various sites and you will go “viral”. That is what you want to do with your music. Use the web as a tool or tactic to help link yourself together into a package that everyone wants a piece of.

Then, play your a$$ off! It’s what you love doing anyway, and that is contagious. Your linked out persona will result in as many opportunities as you need to be in front of your market. Give your performances away if you must in order to be out there. If you build the following, the following will in time take care of you.

That is what must be built and if it is then the dollars will come.

Monday, June 07, 2010

2010 1000 Stand

2010-1000 Stand is a charitable initiative which provides developing nations access to fresh water via Play Pumps (manually operated water well pumps). Please read more about their efforts at http://1000stand.com/.

To support these efforts I have released a single of Amazing Grace (Amazing Grace / Michael Neal McGee) that will be available through CDBaby, Amazon.com, Itunes, and almost every other source of digitally deliverable tunes. It will cost $0.99, of which $0.70 will go to me. The direct website is: http://cdbaby.com/cd/MichaelNealMcGee

I in turn will donate 100% of all monies received between now and July 16th (my Birthday) to 2010-1000 on July 16th, 2010.

It doesn’t take a government to help your fellow man, just a heart.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Techno - Piper

I'm trying to step into this century.. Yes its true, I'm setting up sites on MySpace.com, YouTube.com, Ilike.com, thumbtack.com, twitter.com, trying to inter-link them, my existing websites, and my gigsalad.com site.......  good Lord, I thought learning to pipe was difficult!  Even with the grandkids showing me what I've done wrong (far more often than I've "done right") I don't grasp it!

I'm thinking that the best thing I can do is leave it to the kids, and go learn a new tune or two.   Far less stressful, and for me just as rewarding.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Western Shrine Association

Well, the WSA (Western Shrine Association) has come and gone.  What a great time!  Parade units from everywhere.  It took almost an hour for all the units to pass (and it was only a fifteen minute parade route through "Olde Towne Tempe").  Old freindships were newed and new ones forged.   Fifteen new Nobles were initiated.  The City of Tempe and the Tempe Mission Palms were truly gracious hosts.  We all came away with a renewed comittment to our Shrine Hospitals and their mission.  The very best thing is that "It is all about the Kids"!

Our next Shrine parade isn't until June 19th, up in Prescott Valley.  We'll all be ready!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The 5th Street & Farmers Bagpipe Hip Hop Band

Sometimes we get a little too impressed with ourselves, take ourselves a little too serious and over estimate our place in society. Yesterday I had a “Reality Check”. A friend up in Mohave County called me looking for a bagpiper for a Cancer Awareness Walkathon weekend after next. He couldn’t find one but was certain I could. After scouring my PDA, the internet, and every other contact I had, it suddenly occurred to me that I was the only piper in the area when I left 3 years ago. No matter how important we think we are there simply are not that many of us! We are at best a rare oddity in this part of the world!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

White Tanks Cemetery improvements

I just returned from my weekly visit to White Tanks Cemetery. Though I must confess, with Dad’s recent illness this was the first visit since early March. Regardless, Maricopa County has done a wondrous job of upgrading the landscaping. There are new cinder paths through out the facility, fresh crushed granite everywhere, including the southern half which lacked any improvements until now. There are new benches, and from the looks of it there will be some new trees placed about as well. Is it “Forest Lawn”? No, of course not but it is dignified and does reflect the proper amount of human compassion. Kudos to the Maricopa County Fiduciary. When you got the funds you did the right thing!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Season of New Hope

Thursday before St. Patty’s Day and Dad winds up in the heart Hospital. At ninety this was nothing to take lightly. Still, he is a tough old Marine and pulled through in better shape than when he went down. None the less the stress of those two weeks pretty much eclipsed the festivities of St. Patty’s this year. However, the relief brought about by his remarkable recovery has filled us all with new joy. And at Easter no less, a wondrous time to celebrate new hope. I hope the season puts as much spark into your life as well (though without the stress of course).


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Welcome Home

I had occasion this past Sunday to Pipe a warm “Welcome Home” to one of our veteran’s returning from Afganistan. His friends had gathered at Joe’s Grotto, a local pub, and the vet was actually in Alaska, easily 2,000 miles away! Thanks to the electronic wizardry of Skype and the internet we were all able to see and hear each other just fine. Perhaps not as nice as if he were here at home, but at least he is safely back in country. I will continue to do gigs like this for free as long as I can. Regardless of how you feel about the politics, you must support the young men and women.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Bagpiping for the Desert Foothills Theater

This afternoon was the final performance of “Unnecessary Farce” by Paul Slade Smith at Desert Foothills Theater. I hope you had an opportunity to see it, Petey Swartz did an outstanding job of directing and the cast were fabulous.

Todd (the character, AKA the Highlander) is living proof that there is such a thing as “Death by Bagpipe”, and it is to be feared!

I want to thank Desert Foothills Theater for inviting me to pipe before each performance, it was a joy. Well, in light of Todd’s method of execution, it was at least a joy for me! Thank you all for a wonderful time.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Bagpiper and Gigsalad.com

http://gigsalad.com has a website where aspiring performers can post their talents, something which you may have noticed I do. Recently they began a feedback/rating/review service on the site. If you have ever seen or heard a performer, hired the performer, etc. you are invited to leave a review. This is much akin to the feedback systems used on Amazon, eBay, and many other sites (excepting it requires no purchase) and is intended to give the potential consumer some insight into what they may be getting.

To hear the performers crying “foul” you would think they had all been told they were being “blackballed”. Concerns about everything from shameless self-promotion to fears of hordes of people “bashing” their favorite performer’s competitors.

And initially some of this may occur. But with a provision to respond to criticism, and a promise to investigate the “irregular” I believe the system will sort itself much as eBay has done. I’ve sold on eBay for almost a decade and seen the feedback system significantly refined, to the benefit of BOTH the buyer and seller. I fail to see that this will be any different.

At any rate, with blind faith in the basic integrity of my fellow man, and a belief that the consumer is entitled to as much information as possible, I have put a link on my contact page at http://mcgeesplace.com inviting all who have heard me to leave a review. At best it will be great for promoting me, and at worst it will help to keep my ego in check!


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Unnecessary Farce

The year is starting off grand! No Burn’s Night engagements but I have been piping at Desert Foothills Theater before each performance of the play “Unnecessary Farce” by Paul Slade Smith. Petey Swartz is directing it and it is absolutely delightful. It gives a whole new twist to “Death by Bagpipe”. If it comes to your town be sure to see it! You will love it.

On a more somber note, we had a local Police Officer gunned down yesterday morning. He leaves behind a young family. All of this because some dirt bag had an outstanding warrant. So tragic.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Street Art and Artists

While surfing other blogs I found this post, and thought it might prove interesting to the pipers here. I have no idea who Marion is, he may be a piper, singer or guitarist. Regardless, this common sense approach has merit in my book!

"I'd like to propose the following rules of etiquette for busking, based on my own experiences and intuition.


1. Share the best locations. If another busker indicates that they'd like your spot, agree on a time for them to come and take it over (at most one hour later) and then don't leave until they arrive. Conversely, if another busker has the spot you want, ask them how long they plan to be there. And if they're really on a roll when you get back to claim the place, i.e., they have a crowd built up, give them a few extra minutes so their roll isn't broken.

2. Share information. If somebody has harassed you or tried to steal your tips, warn buskers taking over your spot. If a passerby compliments your show, tell them they should come back in an hour and hear the other busker, too.

3. Keep a respectful distance, especially between musical acts. A musical act and a non-musical one can be closer together, but should be careful not to interfere with each other's visibility/traffic flow.


1. Respect a captive audience. If your location is such that everyone who hears you is just passing by, then you can be as repetitious as you want. But if you are close to market vendors or an outdoor cafe or such, don't play the same tune for 10 minutes or sing the same song five times an hour.

2. If you're amplifying your music, keep it at a decent volume.

3. Be careful not to block traffic flow, along the sidewalks or especially access to vendors or stores.


1. I've been photographed, filmed, and tape recorded while busking; none of which I minded particularly, but I think it would be reasonable to expect a tip for it.

2. I've had people want to tip me by giving me a two or five and taking back a smaller amount, or just want to change bills for coins; again, I don't mind this, but the person should wait until I finish a tune then ask for permission. Until then, hands out of the case!

3. If you like the music but can't give much or anything for a tip, it's still OK to respond to it (by stopping to listen, letting the kids dance, talking to the busker between tunes etc.). Perhaps some buskers will disagree with this, and be annoyed if someone tips 5 cents or stops to listen without tipping at all. But personally I find that small tips or people responding to the music provides a lot of encouragement. When busking is a crucial part of your income, and you go for a stretch of time without any tips, it can get really discouraging; a kid dancing or someone smiling at me can give me the energy to keep going.

Additions, arguments?