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Larry Samuels, Scottish Bagpipes, San Diego, CA
 
Larry Samuels, bagpiper

I'm a professional bagpiper here in San Diego, available for parties, weddings, funerals, military dining-in ceremonies - any occasion is right for the Great Highland bagpipes!  I've been playing the bagpipes for 46 years (!) now; I've won multiple West Coast championships, and was hired by the San Diego Symphony in 2004 (see below) when they needed a bagpiper for their orchestra, so I know I'll do a good job for you.  If you'd like to have me play at your event, contact me at:

San Diego Bagpipes - Larry Samuels
619 223 4189
email address:  sdbagpipes@cox.net
(Please include date/time/location of the event - this helps me determine if I can play for you!)

I'll  be happy to discuss the ways bagpiping can fit into your ceremony, before, during, and after.  (Please see my section Wedding Ideas on my Music Samples page for some examples of using bagpipes in a wedding ceremony).



NEWS

Feb 2014

I played for a cultural fair at the Francis Parker school (I was there last year as well), and one of the young students there studies Highland dance with Chrissy Ambler.  Here's a photo of us:




She danced the Highland Fling and the Sword Dance - 3 times each!  Ah, the energy of youth ....


AND ....

My moment of glory is not over!

Back in Oct. 2004, I had quite a piping week. I won the West Coast Regional piping championship for the 2nd time, then during the next week, I appeared with the San Diego Symphony playing bagpipes for an orchestra piece (see below). 

Well, a book was just published, "The San Diego Symphony from Overture to Encore" by Melvin H. Goldzband



 and I'm mentioned in there, when they're discussing the piece I played. "An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise":




Hmm  ... I don't think of myself as "tootling away" on my pipes - but I'm glad for the mention.  Maybe he'll put my name in the 2nd edition... -)


Dec. 2013
The San Diego Reader newspaper contacted me a while ago with some questions, and wrote a few paragraphs about me for their holiday issue (Dec. 5, 2013) in their article "70+ Great Ways to Celebrate the Holidays":




On their website, they show the full picture (that's an Army Honor Guard member in the background):
http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/2013/dec/02/57015/


On a different note, I played for a dance exhibition at the Mingei  International Museum in June of 2012 with the Highland Fusion dance troupe.  I just got some pictures of the event to share.



Entering at the beginning



Above: Here I am playing the fiddle (!) for Leslie and Elizabeth.  I've played violin and viola for many years, but don't often get to combine it with my bagpiping!



Two dancers wearing the Aboyne dress.


Oct 2013
What a busy weekend!   Six engagements to play in 3 days, but they were all a lot of fun.

One wedding requested a tune that was new to me, "Caledonia"; here's a link to it sung by Dougie MacLean:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8IwBlgxyss
I adapted it for the pipes, and played if for them at their wedding and reception. Very nice tune!

I also got to play for the San Diego British Car Show down near Seaport Village:
http://sandiegobritishcarday.org/portal/

I used to own some old English sports cars, so I love the chance to walk around the car show, pose with cars, and play some good music.


July 2013
You never know where you'll get inspiration from, to learn a new tune!  Of all things, I was playing the computer game "Bioshock Infinite"; in it, the hymn "Let the Circle Be Unbroken" is part of the soundtrack, and plays an important role in the plot as well. After humming it for a while, I discovered I could play it on the bagpipes!  So I've been doing so recently; it's just a pretty melody that fits so well.  

And I heard the hymn "Jerusalem" in an old play "The Star Wagon". As always, if I like a piece of music, I'll see if it fits on the pipes, and it does!  So I have a couple new tunes to play for folks/


May 2013

Every May, I help out the Chula Vista Police Department with their awards ceremony. They were nice enough to give me a certificate of appreciation!





Mar. 2013


Well, another St. Patrick's Day has come and gone!  There's a piper's joke: what do you call the day after St. Patrick's Day? - St. Advil's Day!  There's a lot of piping to do on St. Patrick's Day and it can wear you out!

I played at the Tilted Kilt in Mission Valley again (I was there last year, too), then I got to play for a wonderful wedding at the Navel Base Chapel in Point Loma.  Here's a picture of me, being an outlaw piper:


"Sign?  What sign?"

Of course, the church event was the wedding, so I wasn't disturbing anything ... -)



Feb. 2013
Not many updates recently - the first few months of the year are usually quiet, until St. Patrick's Day, of course.

I played for a wedding out at Los Willows this past week.  The photographer, from Shadowcatcher Imagery, caught a cute moment with the bride and groom:



Isnt that a great image!  



July 2012


Once again, I was able to help out someone at Comic-Con!  The director of a Scottish independent movie - a romantic comedy/thriller about comic books and collectors - asked me to help out at the Comic-Con Friday night showing of their film "Electric Man":

                    

Please see their website at http://www.electricmanmovie.com/

I led folks into the theater at show time, then stayed and enjoyed the movie as well.

There's a video of the "Electric Man" team at Comic-Con 2012; here's a link to the video where I'm leading folks through the hotel to the movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skVhzTIEeDU&feature=player_detailpage#t=81s



May 2012

Today I helped teach a class at UCSD - the professor, Ben Power (http://www.benpower.info/bio.html), who plays various smallpipes and Irish whistle, gave a class on traditional Irish and Scottish piping. He asked if I'd come in and demonstrate the Great Highland Pipes, as well as discuss their background.   It was a lot fun trying to share as much information as I could in the time alloted. I think the students enjoyed it too.

I did a Memorial Day concert on board the USS Midway on May 26, playing the National Anthem at the start.  Three Dog Night were the headliners for the concert!  I could see lots of folks recording my piping;  if a video pops up on youTube, I'll post a link here. -)

Nov 2011
It seems every few years, my wife has to make a new pipe bag cover for me; the sun and weather wears out the velvet, I guess.  

Here's what it looks like at first:




and when finished:



It's tricky making something that irregular, and so well-fitted to my bagpipes.  She's the best bagpipe tailor around. -)

Oh, and I keep on learning new tunes for folks. Recently, I was asked (again) to play Ave Maria (Schubert) on the pipes for a ceremony. In the past, I told folks it wasn't really ssuitable, because it needs some notes that just don't exist on the bagpipes. But I sat down and worked out a very nice arrangement for the bagpipes.  So now, I can offer to play Ave Maria, when appropriate!

July  2011
I played for a memorial at the new Miramar National Cemetery yesterday; the ceremony included a beautiful horse-drawn carriage from Homeward Bound ; their website is:
   http://www.homewardboundfuneralcarriages.com/
Beautiful carriage and horse!

And I keep learning tunes for customers - an Irish wedding this weekend request "O Luaidh" (Oh My Dearest Dear), and an old classic "Dear Old Donegal". Pretty tunes!


November 2010

Each year, I play for the Scottish Treasures shop in Coronado; they have an open house with music. I play pipes, there's usually a a Celtic band (this year, the Heloise Love band), and then I play for the Highland dancers from Chrissy Ambler's school of Highland dance.  Here's a photo of some of the dancers:



It's a real treat to perform with such accomplished dancers.

September 2010
I did a wedding at South Beach in Coronado.   Here I am,  perched on the rocks playing - folks have to park a ways away, and the bagpipes are a nice signal where to find the wedding on a beach!


Other pipers have to play in the rain, snow, and fog, but I love San Diego weather!



July 2010

I discovered a few more interesting tunes that fit on the bagpipes:
  Gaudeamus Igitur  - this is the 'academic tune' that's used in movies behind graduation scenes (also in Brahms' Academic Overture!)
   Love Me Tender - Elvis's song!

June 2010

For once, I was able to go to the Costa Mesa Highland Games during the Memorial Day weekend. Usually, I'm playing for customers during the holiday; this year, I reserved a day to go to the Games and pick up some equipment from all the Scottish vendors there.  (And I got to all my piping friends and listen to some great music, too!)

Not many pipers manage to wear out a Prince Charlie jacket by just playing for customers, but I did!  It looked to me like my jacket (purchased in 1995) was beginning to fade in all the sunlight it gets exposed to. I decided to replace it this year, and to see if I could buy another set of ghille brogues (shoes) as well.   Here they are!
   

The new shoes are actually patent leather
ghille brogues - much shinier than the photos show!  So now I can rival the military officers when I'm performing at a Navy or Marine event. -)

I always want to look my best for my customers - it's a part of what people expect, as well as good piping, so I do everything I can to keep my uniform in shape.  It's not cheap to stay looking good!


May 2010


I've been very busy the past couple of months!  I've helped out at the SDSU graduation ceremonies for the past couple of years; it's always great seeking folks arrive at their goal after years of study.

I've been arranging a lot of tunes for the bagpipes recently:
    When the Saint Go Marching In, to lead wedding guests to the reception.
    Semper Fidelis by John Sousa  & Sea Soldiers (for a US Marine dining ceremony)
    A John Denver medley - "For Bobbi", "Country Roads", "Rocky Mountain High"
    the Irish National Anthem for a wedding
It turns out there are a number of John Sousa marches that seem to fit well on the bagpipes!


March 2010
One more St. Patrick's Day come and gone!  Here in San Diego, we had a downright summery St. Patrick's - playing in the warm sun by the Blarney Stone pub. It makes me think of playing the Chicago
St. Patrick's Day parade back in the 1970s; ice and snow, frozen bagpipes and frozen fingers ... all in all, I prefer San Diego. -)

Recently  I did a wedding where the couple had their dog carry in the rings; here's a picture of me with the ringbearer (he's the one wearing the tuxedo, sort of):


Once he brought in the rings (attached to his collar), he didn't want to leave. But they were prepared - the groom threw a dog biscuit back down the aisle and that did it. -)



Sept 2009
Busy times!   One fun job I had was to play at the English Car Show at Fairbrooks Farms on Sept. 27. I used to own Austin-Healeys, so I really enjoyed seeing all the wonderful cars while I strolled the field playing. Here's a photo of me framed by the chrome grill of a Rolls-Royce (!):




What a great picture!  The photography is by Douglas Gates of Gates Photography (www.gatesphotography.com);  he does weddings, parties, all sort of special events. I highly recommend him!


More Aug 2009
I had a bit of a landmark recently - I got to play 3 weddings in one day! I'm very careful about playing multiple jobs in one day, especially in the summer when the heat and effort can really wear you out, and I'm always concerned with timing, so I can do a good job for everyone.  But these weddings worked out perfectly in terms of timing (10 AM/2 PM/6 PM) and location (all within a mile or so of home, so I didn't worry about driving), and the weather cooperated marvelously!  Everything went great and I felt as good at the end of the day as when I started! -)

And to top things off, it was on my birthday, so I got to join in on everyone's celebrations as well. -)

Aug 2009
I'm still keeping very busy - this has probably been my best year yet! 

I do a lot of military ceremonies, and since I was in the Navy (1975-81), I always feel at home working with them.  Recently I got to do a "change of command" ceremony which was especially familiar - the commander who was leaving the facility was on the same sort of ship as I was, at the same time. Also, the facility he was leaving was a communications station, full of folks doing exactly the same job I did when I was in the Navy, so I could even talk to them about their job. -)

 The command was nice enough to send me a letter of appreciation afterwards:




March 2009
Not much news - I just keep on playing for folks!  Another St. Patrick's Day come and gone - wonderful weather for playing the pipes in San Diego in March!

I got some very interesting songs requests for a wedding I'm doing; not your usual pipe tunes. As long as a tune 'fits' nicely on the pipes  (in my judgement), I'm willing to give it a try!
As Time Goes By - from the great  film "Casablanca".
Let It Be Me

Sept 2008
Well, although I stay busy playing for folks, unless something interesting happens, I guess I don't write down much news!

Anyway, my wife made another pipe bag cover for me (the gold/black one faded after 2 years of playing in the bright sunlight):


Silver and black, this time! 

April 2008
Busy times!  St. Patrick's Day has come and gone - lots of parties to play!

Recently I've gotten some questions about playing the Pachelbel Canon in D at weddings.  It's a longish piece, so I made a recording of some portions of it and put it here.   I'll put a little more discussion of it on my Music Samples page,  under "Traditional Processionals".

Jan. 2008
Last June, I did a wedding at the Pine Hill Lodge in Julian. Well, the wedding was covered in the Feb. 2008 issue of "San Diego Bride and Groom" magazine (on page 48).  They even published a picture of me and included my name. :)

                           


Dec. 2007
Well, I'm coming to the end of another year.   I had Federal jury duty in December, which interfered with playing for folks... -(
But I got to do a Christmas party with a drummer and dancer; the guests were really enthusiastic (and skilled) at joining in on the dancing!

Happy Holidays to everyone!

For Christmas, my sister-in-law embroidered a beautiful bookmark for me:




It even has the right sort of tartan for me, doesn't it?  Although my beard isn't as brown now, as it used to be ... :)

November 2007
My wife made the most beautiful green and black Prince Charlie jacket and vest for me:



Isn't that gorgeous!  There are more photos and a short description of what it took to make at this page:
http://sandiegobagpipes.com/pc_jacket/pc_jacket.html

Sept. 2007
I did a wedding where they requested both a snare drummer and a tenor drummer, at Cuvier Park in La Jolla.  Here's a picture of us all hard at work:



That's Gloria Audett on the left, playing the tenor drum, and Aaron Mars on snare drum in the center.  We're wearing our Cameron of Erracht kilts, though it's hard to see in the bright sunlight.  What a pretty place for a wedding (see the setup behind us)!

Aug 2007
This is maybe the busiest month I've ever had!  It turns out I had 22 (!) engagements in August. Whew!! And then the heat ... -)

I adapted some more tunes for the pipes, for different customer requests:
Mull of Kintyre - this tune was very popular with Paul McCartney's recording, where he uses a pipe band.
Auld Lang Syne - classic Scots melody!
She Moved Through the Fair - a lovely Irish tune.
I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen - a beautiful Irish song.

I played a job at Mission Bay where I had to arrive by boat  while playing (the things I do for my customers!):

      

It was a lot of fun playing at the beach, as folks built rafts to sail in a race!

July 2007
Another busy month - a couple of weekends where I had three events to play in one day!  But I'm always careful about timing, to make sure I never let anyone down by being late (I never have!)

There are some new pieces, requested by customers, under "Music Samples":
1. A little thing I call the Bagpipe Voluntary!  -)
2.  Another common wedding piece,  "Water Music"  by Handel.

I played at the San Diego Comic Con for a campaign for the TV show "Stargate: Atlantis". A Scottish character in the show, Dr. Carson Beckett, was killed in the show, but some avid fans have been running a campaign to bring him back.  Well it looks like it worked! :

TV Guide Article   (they even mention me in the article, but not by name ...)

Here's a picture from the event:



One of the folks running the campaign did a Highland fling, as I played in the lobby!  Notice the "Save Carson" T-shirt!


June 2007
You know, I'm a pretty busy bagpiper (and I like it that way) - so busy that I've worn out yet another bagpipe cover!.  You know how long it takes most pipers to wear out a bagpipe bag cover?   Well, I'm busy, and they wear out faster. -)

My wife, bless her soul, made me a new pipe bag cover, with exactly the trim I asked for. Here it is:

pipe bag cover

Isn't that gorgeous!

Imagine how tricky it is to sew something for such an odd shape as the bagpipe, with holes sticking out every which way...

More June stuff

I've just had the busiest 3 days of my piping career yet!  Thursday, a 6 hour stint at Pechanga Casino (not playing all that much, but still a long time to be waiting), then 6 1/2 hours on Friday at the Cottonwood Golf club playing at hole 17 for every golfing group that came by - and this really was an enormous amount of playing; I'm proud I was able to keep up my stamina all day. Then 3 jobs on Saturday! 

No wonder I wore out my bagpipe bag cover!

May 2007
I get so many requests for the "Irish Lullaby" (Bing Crosby sang it; it's also known, I think, as "Toor-a Loor-a Looral"), I decided to put a music sample up at the top of my Music Samples webpage.

April 2007
I've been busy!  St. Patrick's Day has come and gone.  I added an Irish tune on my Music Samples page:
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Because I often play for Irish ceremonies, I decided to get a green Kilkenny jacket and vest; I think it goes nicely with the red Royal Stewart kilt, and seems more Irish.  I put a photo on my Photos page here.  If you'd like me to wear it at your event, just let me know!

I also adapted some melodies from the movie "Titanic" for the pipes; I've had some requests to use this music for bride's processionals, so here it is!
Titanic Medley 

I performed for a Cultural Celebration at UCSD this month, working with Leslie Crewes, a Highland dancer from the dance troupe Highland Fusion, and with a drummer, Eric Mabrey.  Here's a picture of us, after we finished performing:

ucsd fair


And just for fun, I added a picture of my two Samoyed dogs to the Photos page.  When I'm not practicing, or playing an engagement, they get a lot of attention. But they do shed a lot of white hair on my nice Prince Charlie jacket! -)

January 2007
Well, another new year!  I'm beginning to get lots of wedding bookings for the year; it's always fun to help out at a wedding
In fact, I'll be at a booth at the bridal fair at the SD Convention Center later this month (Sunday, Jan. 28, 2007):
    http://www.bridalbazaar.com/shows.html
I'll be at the booth for the store Scottish Treasures from Coronado; they rent kilts for weddings as well as selling tartan, etc.   It'll be booth #1543.  See you  there!!


November 2006

doplhins
Hey I got to play at a wedding for some dolphins!

Well, not really ... but aren't they cute?  I played for a Navy retirement ceremony, and the dolphins were nearby.  If you look at my pipes, you can see the bag isn't inflated - I didn't want to alarm the dolphins. -)    Remarkable animals; I'd never met any close-up before.

Another day, I played for a very romantic occasion - a wedding proposal on the beach!  When they first met, the couple was at the beach and that day, there was a bagpiper on the beach playing. The groom-to-be wanted to recreate the moment for his proposal, so he asked me to come wandering down the beach at a certain time.  We scoped-out the area a week before, figured out where and when for me to come along. I showed up at the right time and began making my way down the beach playing.  By the time I got close, I couldn't tell if it was him or not, they were kissing so thoroughly!  It all worked out very nicely.

September 2006
For some reason,  this September has been the busiest month I've ever had!  Lots of weddings and parties to play for.  One birthday party was for a lady who had played the pipes in her youth, at the University of Iowa (they used to have a "Ladies Pipe Band") - we surprised her at a local restaurant for her 70th birthday party.  Her husband asked if I could play, of all things, the "Iowa Fight Song" and "On Wisconsin" on the bagpipes!  Well, I knew how "On Wisconsin" went, and  a quick net search for the "Iowa Fight Song" gave me the melody, so they got their surprise the way they wanted it! -) 

Another wedding was special - last New Year's Eve, I played (as a surprise) at a party that was also the host's wedding proposal to his lady. Well, this month I got to do the wedding for them too!  It makes me feel like I'm seeing my job through to the end. -)

July 2006
A customer requested the tune Bells of St. Marys  for her wedding processional, so I put a recording up on the website.

I've been asked to play at a college ceremony, adapting a familiar school song to the bagpipes.  It's nice how many good melodies fit so well onto the pipes!

June 2006
I've worked a few times with folks from the Celtic music group Highland Way.  They're at many of the Highland Games and their music is a lot of fun!

I did a wedding recently where the photographer  Tony Eisenhower Photography  took some pictures of me and was kind enough to share them    I've put them on my "Photos" page at the top.

I've been meaning to put up some music samples of the types of tunes I play for folks before and after a ceremony, when I'm sort of being "background music" and playing fast, lively stuff.  Here's a link to the "Medley" section in my  "Music Samples" page.

May 2006
I wore the Border Patrol kilt to a memorial for police officers, in Balboa Park on May 10.  Here's a picture of  the kilt - it's blue/green, with a yellow stripe accent.

Mar. 2006

Well, St. Patrick's day has come and gone! I spent the day playing for folks, mostly in good weather, but some rain got in the way.  I performed with some dancers from the Highland Fusion dance troupe (www.highlandfusion.com) at the Forum Shopping Center; here's a picture of us!

Recently a few customers have asked for the wedding music used in Braveheart. I transcribed the music for the Scottish pipes (Braveheart uses the Irish pipes, which have a wider range than the Scottish Highland pipes, and are more of an "indoor" pipe).  Here's a clip of me playing the music - first the theme given by the flute/tinwhistle, then the pipe theme, an orchestral bridge, and back to the first two themes - all on one bagpipe!


I've been doing a lot of birthday parties, and I usually surprise folks when I tell them that Happy Birthday can be played on the bagpipes, so I added it to my Music Samples page.

Feb. 2006
With all the military functions and weddings I've been doing, I decided to add some sound clips of more Patriotic Tunes: the Army anthem, the Marine Corp Hymn, and Anchors Aweigh.

Also I added a lovely processional song, Flora MacDonald's Love Song.

Jan. 2006
I've added some Testimonials on my "About Me" page.

Also, I just finished my first Bridal Bazaar fair; here's a picture of me at my booth:

both at show

Oct. 2005
I've just added a few new tunes, Flower of Scotland and Danny Boy, to my "Music Samples" page.  Also, I added a "Wedding Ideas" section to the Music Samples page.

Dec. 2005
I changed my email address from   premierepiping@cox.net    to sdbagpipes@cox.net.  If you have any trouble with sdbagpipes@cox.net, feel free to use the old address (but there shouldn't be any trouble).


2004
Well, I had the most eventful piping week of my life recently. First, on Oct. 15, 2004, I won the Grade 1 Angus MacDonald Memorial Western Regional Championship for the second time; here's a picture of a very happy me, along with my new trophy:

samuels_macdonald_1stplace      macdonald_trophy


Then a few days later, I made my debut playing bagpipes with the San Diego Symphony for the piece "An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise"!  Photos were not allowed, but here's a link to the review from the San Diego Union Tribune:

Review