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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

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011





Friday, November 11th, 2011, after the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade, the 224th Infantry Regiment Korean War Veterans placed a wreath at the Korean War Memorial at the Arizona State Capital.  This will likely be the group's final reunion as there are only a handful left.  I was honored to be their Piper.  God bless you gentlemen, and thank you for your service!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Played Vegas?

Last year I was asked to play for residents and families at the new Marquis Care at Centennial Hills Skilled Nursing & Rehab Center in Las Vegas. It was a holiday party, and I was the surprise entertainment. I used one of the un-occupied suites on the upper floor for a “Green Room” and I must tell you, these accommodations are VERY nice.

At the appointed time I entered the elevator playing Scotland the Brave and descended to the first floor, exited the elevator and marched into the party. The effect was wonderful. I was introduced and then played another tune, then the guest speakers, followed by a blessing and Amazing Grace. During the meal itself I switched to the small pipes and played to individuals, tables and groups.

I must tell you that the warmth and care exuded by the attentive staff was truly remarkable. This must be one of the finest facilities in the country! So have I played Vegas? Well yes, not “The Strip”, but I was able to help some very warm and caring people brighten the day of individuals who were having a hard time of it. I’ll take my gig anytime!

Slainte mhor! Pops :-)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thrown in front of the Bus!

One of the neatest birthday parties I have ever played was for the hostess's husband's 40th birthday. As a surprise present to him she was going to take the celebrant and all guests (some 40 of them) "pub crawling". In a remarkable display of social responsibility she had rented a double-decker London Bus for the job.

I was to meet the bus half a block from the house and out of sight, and then when I received a phone call I was to Pipe the bus up to the house. The call came and to the skirling of Scottland the Brave and The Minstrel Boy I piped the bus up to the house where all were assembling in the front yard. I continued piping while guests and copious provisions were loaded onto the bus, and then as it drove off into the night.

I have always regretted not being able to accept their generous invitation to accompany them on their grand adventure. It must have been quite the party as late the next afternoon I received a call asking if I had found any items left on the bus!

Slainte! Pops :-)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

A private service


It was a beautiful morning to be piping at Roadrunner Park.  While working through my tunes a friend approached me with a request.  His father had been given 90 days to live and he wanted a Piper for his funeral.  He wanted to video tape me so his father could see me perform.  I readily agreed and went through Amazing Grace. 

Sadly, the appointed day came even sooner than expected.  To begin the service I piped Danny Boy in the lobby as everyone was seated.  As soon as the service began I left and walked over to the Mausoleum where the interment would be.  A short time later the family and mourners arrived at the site and there was a brief additional service.  

At the conclusion of the graveside remarks I piped Amazing Grace to each of the four corners, and having finished piping to the East I slowly marched into the East playing Highland Cathedral.  The family and mourners departed for the wake, and I and my thoughts left for home.  Such days are bitter sweet, drowning in a dark sense of loss and dispair, and then the pipes, breaking the floodgates and releasing the grief.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Happy Birthday!


     It was a fortieth birthday party, and as is often the case with such events the piper was to be a surprise.  I arrived at the party on schedule and was met in the front yard by my hostess and the perpetrator of this event.  Everything was progressing according to plan. 

    The party was in the back yard, so she opened the gate on the side yard.  I gave her a moment to rejoin her guests, and then proceeded to march in playing a medley of Scotland the Brave, The Minstrel Boy, and The Rising of the Moon. 

    A brief silence fell over the crowd until they realized what was going on (Pipers are something of a rarity here in Phoenix, Arizona) and then they really started to get into it. 

    It was a lovely multi generational event with everyone from Toddlers to Gray Beards present.  It occurred to me that this is one of the things I enjoy most about what I do,  seeing and being a part of extended family and close friends celebrating and interacting with one another. 

    The birthday boy was singled out for special attention and I piped Happy Birthday to him, and Amazing Grace to his vanished youth! 

    In all I piped for about half an hour, and before anyone’s eyes started to glaze over I was gone.  What a Great Time!


Slainte Mhor!
                            "Pops"

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Funeral in Yuma, AZ




Earlier this year I was contacted by a young woman in Yuma (a community in the far Southwestern corner of Arizona) who’s father had just passed away.  He had often spoke of having a piper play Amazing Grace at his graveside. 

I accepted the engagement without hesitation, and 48 hours later at five in the morning I found myself packing my pipes into the car for a three hour drive down to Yuma.  The drive down was uneventful.  As the dawn broke over the vast desert ushering in the new day and I arrived at Desert Lawn Memorial Park about two hours early.  This gave me ample time to tune and get the lay of the facility.  The lush green grounds were a beautiful contrast to the desert I had just crossed. 

In due time family and guests arrived, fond memories were shared, and a moving service delivered.  This was followed by a salute rendered by a Veteran’s Military Honor Guard, and that followed by my humble piping of Amazing Grace. 

The odd thing was that people thought it strange a Piper would drive three hours one way just to pipe for sixty seconds.  I guess they can not understand, nor can I adequately explain, how great it feels to provide this “release” for those grieving.  The old Celts knew that only the Pipes can provide this.


Slainte,
Pops

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Local Legend

August 10, 2011: We raise a pint in honor of Frank Murray, a great man who passed away this week.

Frank, a Korean War veteran, moved to Arizona in 1954 and managed a cotton gin in the West Valley during the day while tending bar at night. For over 50 years, Frank was in the bar business in some way, shape, or form.

He worked at the Dubliner Irish Pub before becoming the manager at Seamus McCaffery’s – which he eventually purchased after ten years. And in 2009, he opened the Turf Irish Pub nearby. For those of you who knew Frank, you knew that Phoenix was his town. Frank was a visionary for downtown Phoenix and for that, he will always be remembered as a legend.

“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”

Slaintè Frank!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wedding Bagpiping

       I piped for a wedding yesterday down in Gilbert, a small satellite of the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan area about 40 miles from home.   It was at a facility named Shenandoah Mill.  If you are an event planner or wedding planner you really need to give this facility a look.

      There is something wonderful about piping for weddings.  The gathering of extended family and close friends, the excitement, the little cousins running about, it is just a very warm feeling.  For me, a piper,  I feel very blessed to be a part of it.

       While it was Phoenix in August the temperature was under 100 and there was a breeze.  Huge thunderheads were building in the Eastern sky and during giving and taking of vows and rings, three dove briefly circled over the couple.  Just beautiful!  The assembled guests also took part in the exchanging of vows, something that seems to becoming more common.

        After the lighting of the unity candle I piped in from the back playing “Rising of the Moon” (yes, it was an Irish family) and up to the couple.  I then led them out, followed by the guests, to the reception line playing “Highland Cathedral”, and continued piping as the reception line passed into the main room.

       And then the party began!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Dog Days of Summer"

Well, it’s broken 100 degrees in Phoenix so its time to hang up the wool argyle and kilt, and break out the lightweight kilts for Summer.  In just a few weeks the one hundred degree mark will seem like “cool” weather! 

Actually, this time of year you begin to look forward to the out of town gigs in Flagstaff and the High Country.  They give you the much needed excuse to go where its not so hot. 

Things seem to slow down a little here in the Summer.  Funerals remain relatively constant, but garden weddings slow way down, and so do back yard parties as it gets still warmer.  Even the municipal street fairs shut down for the season.  But after a busy Spring that is not such a bad thing!  J 

Be well, I’ll write again soon. 

Pops

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Another St. Patty's slips into the books




One more party tonight and we can close the books on St. Patty's 2011.  Block parties, street parties, birthday parties, and more than a little "busking".  This old man is getting tired!  Still, a grand time seems to have been had by all.

Slainte Mhor!
Pops  :-)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Project?

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and I am thinking about releasing an “extended play” single. I’m thinking about a medley of The Crusader’s Hymn, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, The Marine Hymn, and America the Beautiful. Politically correct? Maybe not. Offensive to those who want to behead us? I can only hope so.

Anyway, what are your thoughts? All these tunes can be played on the bagpipe’s narrow nine note range and while definitely not “traditional bagpiping”, they really don’t sound that bad together. Please, give me your thoughts on the project.


Slainte,

Pops



Tuesday, February 08, 2011

St. Patty's Parties

Well now, as you can see St. Patty’s Day is nearly upon us. And for those of you intending to celebrate with private parties it’s time to start planning your event. Should those plans include a piper I have a word of caution for you.

While there are over six million people in the Phoenix Metro area alone, it has been estimated that there are fewer than two hundred fifty pipers in all of Arizona, not all of whom hire out. Many of us who do have found that a very good time (and obscenely lucrative) can be had simply pub crawling and playing for tips. So they will not be available.
The message is clear if you want a piper for your St. Patty's party contact them as early as possible!

There now.  You've been warned.  Now party on!

Slainte,
Pops :-)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Down but far from out!

In keeping with the optimistic view point of my last post I must assume that January has had all the adversity for 2011 rolled into just one month! I had some health problems which were compounded by a lack of insurance, and while they have knocked me down, they have not knocked me out! I am mending well and will be back in the swing of things in February. A huge thank you to all my friends and supporters, without whom this may well have gone a different direction.

Now, it goes without saying that I did not get a new single out in January, and will be doing good to get one out in February. So in March I am shooting to release two. I’ve also had to pass on a few gigs, but that should just about be over with as well.

As you can see, I’m well enough to resume posting, so you’ll be hearing from me more often in the weeks to come.

Don’t forget, St. Patty’s Day is just around the corner!
Warmest regards,
Pops

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Goals and resolutuions :-)


2011! The “oughts” are over. Last year saw things improve dramatically for the McGees, and if this year brings the same progress it will be a very good year indeed! If it is any indication “11” is already off to an auspicious start. I am making bookings all over the state; my singles on CD Baby (http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/MichaelNealMcGee ) are selling. Actually it appears the singles have been selling all along, it is just taking three to four months for the sales from the various digital distributors (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) to post to my CD Baby account.


So what am I committing to do in 2011? I’d like to release at least one single per month, and this coming year have a Christmas album rather just a couple of singles. I’d like to expand my repertoire to include more casual music. I’d like to start “busking” at some of the fairs and festivals. I’d also like to keep my blog more current.

Sounds like I’m going to be hard pressed to get it all in. But the thing I want to do most, and what almost all these goals tie to is that I want more opportunities to share my music with you.

So time is short and I have a lot to do. Better post this and get busy. Oh wait! Posting this is one of the goals.

Have a great year,

Pops :-)