Last weekend I went to the Norman Medieval Faire in Oklahoma and played with my friend Al’s band Istanpitta. It was about half playing the flute and singing and half playing crazy Medieval bagpipes. One of the nicest things about the weekend was that in addition to our stage sets we went out and busked. Now theoretically we’re supposed to be out there selling CDs and making money by doing this. We did get a bit of a crowd but at the end we were in a circle singing and playing to each other. One of the things I love about this is that we were “found music”, an unexpected scene of four people just playing for the fun of it, for “free”. Ever since the first time I went out to the Dickens festival in Galveston when I was 13 I’ve loved putting out the hat. I find myself playing with more urgency and also more joy since playing in public unbidden has to be for a reason and I find the reason in providing an atmosphere with the tunes. Part of the urgency is in the uncertainty in whether people will like the music, whether somebody is going to file a noise complaint, and maybe become a welcome surprise in the day for the audience walking by. The whole point is to make a normal city street feel special, or a festival seem more full of music. I’ve found the best policy is to forget about the tip hat and try to make people feel something using the pipes which are so good at invoking feelings in people. Anyway after playing stage sets and a few busking sets with Istanpitta all weekend I took the rest of the band to the airport on Sunday. It was so early that the festival was still going on after I got back to Norman and I decided I would go out and play some celtic tunes after a whole weekend of Medieval music. I took the great pipes that Richard and I made and a few Willow CDs and played for about an hour in one of the lanes. I realized that the pipes give something different to different people. There were bikers and computer nerds and women all dressed to look good, and moms with little kids. At one point I had a couple of three year old children with tie dye and fairy wings on dancing while their parents watched. Some kids with metal music themed t-shirts walked by and gave me the thumbs up. So funny how one tune on one instrument can appeal so clearly to children, parents, rebels, soldiers, office workers, and senior citizens of all different ethnicities. So to make a long story short I had a great time getting the Irish and Scottish tunes out of my system in one of the paths at the festival while the sun went down. I made some dollars and sold a couple of CDs enough to buy dinner.All that busking last weekend has got me all into doing it in Asheville where there are dozens of players downtown. I’m taking the osage pipes out tomorrow to give them some testing in public before sending them to a very patient customer. About half the people with instruments and a cup for tips in downtown Asheville are just idiots who can’t actually play anything. They just make random sounds on instruments and expect the tourists to give them money. I’m really enjoying trying to contradict the image of the annoying vagrant. The smallpipes are perfect for playing in Asheville’s downtown setting that’s not too loud and often full of people who are here on vacation. More on this later.Tonight I finished the bag and the connectors for my next C set for a customer up north. Tomorrow starting on the chanter and maybe boring the drones.