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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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bagpipes

I’m Glad Others Buy Them

It’s National Buy a Musical Instrument Day. I’m not going to run out and get one myself, but I sure do appreciate those that do. My husband and I like music. We enjoy watching the old musicals on TV and often go to dinner where there is live music, mainly jazz. In my sewing room I listen to Country because I identify with the stories in the songs.

Recently we spent five days in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Dixieland Jazz is prevalent. We enjoyed it so much we want to go back. One band in particular called the James Rivers Movement, we are still talking about. James, according to Google, is somewhere between the age of 76 and 81. He has been appearing in the New Orleans Jazz festival for the last 40 years. He played all the woodwinds, sang, and then surprised us by turning from the audience and turning back around playing a jazz melody on the bagpipes. We sat with our mouths open. He is not only a good musician, but also a showman. No one left the room until the evening performance was concluded.

When I was a kid, I took piano lessons and in school I played the trumpet and then moved on to the french horn. I got the music appreciation gene, but not the one that likes to practice. I can still read a music staff and tell you how long to hold the notes, but that’s as close to it as I get other than listening.

We have multiple musician friends who we follow from gig to gig in our area. Sometimes they are playing in a church, a club, or at a festival. I guess you could call us groupies. We have even donated money to some of them so they can get a new CD launched. Like I said, we like music and the people who make it happen. An interesting side note; they all seem to have more than one instrument. I’ll leave the buying a new instrument to them and gush over it like it was a new baby the next time I see them.

Claiming My Heritage

It’s National Tartan Day. I’m proud to say I have the bloodline to wear a few different Scottish tartans. My father was a Carmichael, his grandmother was a McIntyre and they could prove lineage back through the Royal Stewarts. In the old days, I’m talking 1700 and 1800’s, a tartan was a visible sign of where one lived, and who that person was loyal to. Wearing a tartan you didn’t have the bloodline to claim was a punishable offense.

I lived in England from September 1974 – April 1977. My Aunt Ruth Carmichael came to visit the summer of 1976. I was talking with her about wanting to get a coat made with the McIntyre Tartan. She asked, “Why not the Royal Stewart?” then explained that it was acceptable to wear the tartan of the highest ranking family you could prove. I was elated, the Royal Stewart Tartan is bright and attractive. I got that coat, and wore it until the butt was thread bare. I even got stopped on the street one day in Thetford, Norfolk, England, and asked if I had the bloodline to wear it. How fun it was to say yes and know what I was talking about.

.royal stewart                                                           Royal Stewart Tartan

If you study tartans, you will learn that there are two or three plaids that “belong” to each family. One is worn for everyday and another for dress-up occasions. They were woven in cotton for summer wear and in wool for the winter.

Of course when I see a tartan, my mind jumps to bagpipes. I always wanted to learn to play them. I’ve been told I have enough hot air to do so. Anyway, on our recent visit to New Orleans, weren’t we surprised when one of the musicians that had been playing all of the woodwind instruments, and the harmonica, turned from the crowd, and turned back around playing a jazz harmony on the bagpipes. Everyone’s mouth dropped open. I wouldn’t have believed it was possible had I not seen, and heard, it myself. What a treat.

These days anybody can wear a tartan plaid, but if you are in Great Britain, don’t be surprised if you get questioned.

 

 

 

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