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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

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!

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.


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!