Best Park Booms with Bagpipes and Drums in Surprise Oak Park Performance
(Cheryl Weiss, Aug. 26, 2020)
Oak Park, MI – Residents in the area of Best Park in Oak Park were treated to an unexpected performance of the Cabar Feidh Pipes and Drums band Tuesday evening, as the musicians playing bagpipes and drums got together for their first regular practice since the pandemic.
As the Scottish music played on the grassy area by the parking lot on Roanoke, people walking their dogs wandered over to listen. Neighbors came out and sat on their porches in the warm summer evening, relaxing and listening. At the end of a summer without weekly concerts, annual events, and favorite activities due to the pandemic, this impromptu concert was a welcome diversion.
According to their Facebook page, Cabar Feidh Pipes and Drums “is a pipe band dedicated to continuing the Scottish/Celtic culture. We perform in parades, commencements, and competitions in Michigan and Ohio.” They have been around since 1993, originally as the Glasgow Rangers Pipe Band. The band in its current formation was recreated in 2005.
Paul McLeod, Pipe Sergeant of the band, explained that their usual practice location is inside the First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak on Tuesdays from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. However, since the church has closed all indoor events and activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were unable to practice as usual since March.
The instructor of Cabar Feidh Pipes and Drums, Tyler Johnson, lives in the Best Park area, and regularly practices playing his bagpipes in the evenings in his yard. They decided to have the group practice at the park, a convenient location, observing social distancing, for just one hour instead of two. And the neighborhood was delighted.
Marsha Miller lives next to Best Park and was sitting outside when “I saw cars pull up one at a time, they took out their bagpipes, made a circle, and started playing! There were eight or nine of them, one playing the drums and the others played bagpipes. It was so cool! During the time they played, people pulled up in the parking lot and watched them, then when they left, others came. The people across street came out and sat on their porch. We stayed outside too and listened to them from our backyard; we really enjoyed it! I love bagpipes!”
Jay Lefkowitz, also a resident of the area was walking his dog in Best Park at the time and was drawn in by the Scottish sounds. “I’m just a happy inhabitant of Oak Park that was lucky enough to come across this scene. My dog is still talking about it hours later and insists that I play the video for him next week. I’m going to get him a bagpipe, dog’s got talent, ho ho ho.”
The word about the practice session spread quickly. Erin Reardon was at Jackson Park with her four year-old son, Liam when she saw a post about it on Facebook. They raced the few blocks over to Best Park, but by the time they arrived, the band was packing up; practice was over. Liam kept looking at McLeod’s bagpipe, and when he had the chance, he asked to hear the bagpipe. Kindly, although practice ended, McLeod played a 34-second solo for little Liam. When asked if they will have another opportunity to hear him play, if this will be a regular event, McLeod said they may come back to Best Park on nice evenings like this, if it does not disturb the neighbors. “Generally, if people want to stop by, we welcome them to watch and ask questions.” The band does not have a practice schedule yet, as they are just starting regular practice again after the long break, but it is coming soon.
Reardon hopes that not only will Cabar Feidh Pipes and Drums return to Best Park for their practice sessions, but “I would love to see more coordinated, socially distanced events like this.”