Monthly Archives: June 2014

Cynthia Mae McPherson 8/26/1950 – 6/9/2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 was Cindy McPherson’s service and interment at Rockville Cemetery in Fairfield. Her husband David, children, grandchildren, and many friends were present. Clearly she loved well and was very well loved in return. I was proud to lead the procession from the Stone Chapel to her resting place nearby and to pay final tribute with Amazing Grace at her gravesite.

Blessings to her family and thanks to Greg of Bryan-Braker Funeral Home for your expert direction.

Rockville Church

ToyTalk recording session

ToyTalk makes free interactive conversational apps for children – very innovative. The characters actually talk to the kids. Featured apps are The Winston Show and SpeakaZoo. These are award-winning apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The brainchild of Pixar alumni, ToyTalk needed some bagpipe sounds for Nessie, one of the characters. They offered me free studio time and sound engineering to make demo recordings for my website in return for some simple bagpipe sounds. Kevin, Frank, Ashley, and all the staff were professional, accommodating, friendly, and appreciative. I am very grateful to them for the opportunity to collaborate. Thank you, ToyTalk crew!!

Look for lots of new music samples on my music page.



Los Altos Relay for Life

I played on Saturday evening for the Los Altos Relay for Life. I had been put in touch with Leah Arceneaux of the American Cancer Society by Mira, whose daughter’s wedding I performed for a year ago. Normally I do my benefit work closer to home, but this time I made an exception and glad I did. Mira was there and it was good to see her again. I made some new friends as well and saw some from previous relays. Seeing so many lumenaria, each with the name of a loved one has quite an effect. Every Relay for Life can place these lights a foot apart and easily cover a quarter mile or more to remember friends and loved ones of the participants. Blessings to all who participated in the Relay for Life on Saturday, June 14, 2014.

The Celtic Cup Golf Tournament

Monday morning was warm (95 deg.) at the Moraga Country Club. The Episcopal Senior Communities Foundation hosted their third annual Celtic Cup Golf Tournament. The staff went to lengths to keep me comfortable and under shade for the 1 hour performance to greet and then pipe away the golfers as they left for their respective starting tees. Thank you Karen Huff, Meg, Tracy, and all the men and women who volunteered to run the tournament. 95 deg. really isn’t uncomfortable for piping as long as you stay hydrated. I played alongside a Marin honor guard a few years ago at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery near Santa Nella. It was 106 deg. that day, the warmest weather I have performed in.

Sonoma Wedding

I performed for a lovely wedding on Saturday at Villa Sasso, a little-publicized venue in Sonoma County. The day was sunny, the bride beautiful, and the groom emotional. It was really touching. I think this couple has a wonderful future. Kristi Amaroso of Kristi Amaroso Special Events, LLC. was the wedding coordinator. I have worked with her before. She is really on top of things and makes it all happen while being kind, gracious, and cheerful (a real accomplishment in her profession). Thank you, Kristi.

In attendance were grandparents of Vittorio and Vincenzo of the rock band V2 (V squared).  I have performed with V2 for two years and always have a lot of fun with these guys (they are 11 years old now, I believe). The grandparents have been at at all the V2 shows, but we had not met until this day. Good to know you both. I hope to see you again this coming year!

Naval Aviators Dine Out

Last night was exceptional. VFA-154 Black Knights, whose members fly F-18s is based in Lemoore, California. They have functions called “dine outs.” They arrange for a classy venue and hold a lively banquet, full of raucous surprises and bold, ribald ceremonial wildness. These men and women are in the prime of their lives and have what many consider the world’s best job; flying really fast jets, armed to the teeth with firepower. These are people who are really “living large,” full of confidence and “vigor,” as JFK used to say. So when they go out to cut loose, you bet they really do that large too. Dress uniforms, dates in gowns (suits on male dates – there ARE women aviators), lots of booze and crazy fun, while maintaining an unmistakable decorum.

Last night’s dine out was at the Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel, 609 Sutter St., San Francisco, a gathering place for local and traveling military personnel of all ages and rank.The place is loaded with historical mementos of all kinds. The help is especially respectful and the guests have a certain bearing, a way of looking you directly in the eye, fearing no man. Late in the day, most of the elevator rides are to the 12th floor, where the bar looks out over the City.

After cocktails, I kicked off the 7 o’clock dinner hour by piping in the head table. But my primary function was to process in the person who presents the beef to the presiding officer. He tastes the food and pronounces it “not fit for human consumption,” at which time some punishment is meted out. Last night, guys stood up and shot the “chef” (actually one of their own pilots) with nurf guns. One was actually an automatic with extra ammo clips (shouts of, “Reload, reload!” and fresh clips being tossed). Fortunately, the presiding officer then changed his mind and pronounced the beef “fit for human consumption,” everyone cheered, the “chef” resurrected, and piped out the door. As I changed out of my uniform in a nearby room I heard wild shouts and cheers issuing from the banquet hall. Bless you all, ladies and gentlemen of the Black Knights and thank you for your service. Whadda party!


This morning I had the honor of performing for Sandra S. O’Connor’s funeral at St. Anselm’s Catholic Church in Ross. She was a loving wife and good mother, fun-loving and had a sense of humor. Sandy’s obituary. San Anselmo was her true home. Thank you Chess and Sean for your warmth and kindness. Thanks also to Father Healy and his staff for welcoming me in and helping out. St. Anselm’s is a really lovely church on a quiet lane, built in the Welsh style.

Sandra Shine O'Connor


Bagpiping Lessons & Instruction by Fred Payne, Bagpiper

Serving Northern California, Reno, and the entire San Francisco Bay Area

How I Teach You To Play Bagpipes

Are you interested in bagpipe lessons? Do you want to learn a few tunes and play them well for your own satisfaction or would you like to become an accomplished musician on pipes, performing at weddings, memorial services, parties, and events, maybe compete as a soloist or play in a pipe band?

You choose the level to which you rise.

You can start right away with an investment of less than 100 dollars for a practice instrument and book!

No matter what your age or previous musical experience, I will help you to play so that you will inspire yourself with your musicianship and to have the respect of other pipers. No matter what your goal, I am dedicated to your success.

You will learn the basics first and apply them in simple well known traditional bagpipe tunes. Then we will explore more complex music and its nuance, including several styles of marches, slow airs, reels, jigs, hornpipes, strathspeys, and even the greatest of all bagpipe music, Piobaireachd.

My rates are very reasonable and you can start right away.

Talk to some of my current students before you begin. Never accept an instructor without the strongest references.

Long distance lessons via Skype are also available (High speed internet connection required).

Reference: “If you have the desire to learn to play the pipes, go to Fred ! I have learnt more in my short time with Fred than months with other instructors. His attention to detail, techniques, awareness and comfortable teaching style has made me a more confident student.”

About Me

This post is under construction, a work in progress. I’ll update as time permits

Way back in 1966, when I was 11 years old, my parents and I were members of the Scottish Society of Santa Barbara. It was a big society for a (then) small town. The Walter B. Truman Bagpipe Band was loosely associated with the society. I had playing classical piano for  five year and play occasionally at the society meetings. The band leadership approached my parents and offer free piping lessons if I would consider joining the band.

It was an easy choice. Within a year I had the cool uniform and was marching in the 1967 Milpas St. Christmas parade in Santa Barbara. The fun just kept coming and that band was a big part of my teenage years. I competed once at the Santa Monica Highland Games (now the Costa Mesa Games).

College, marriage, and family sidelined me for nearly 20 years. Living in Santa Maria during the 90’s I found that a very accomplished piper, John Partanen was living nearby. We made contact, formed the Central Coast Pipes and Drums, and he began coaching me for competition. In 2002, at the age of 47 I stepped in front of a judge for the first time in 33 years. I won the Western United States Grade 4 championship that year, and Grade 3 in 2003 and 2004. In 2003 I joined the Monterey Bay Pipe Band.  Under Pipe Major MIchele d’Avenas, we were in top form and were the first-place band in the Western US. I was winning as a Grade 2 soloist during 2005 when divorce distracted me and I restricted myself to pipe band activity and contests for several years.

I moved from Santa Maria to the San Francisco Bay area in 2006 and joined the San Francisco Irish Pipers. I resumed competing as a soloist and won quite a few medals. I decided to begin performing full-time in 2008, finally retiring from pipe bands and the contest field in January 2012 to devote myself completely to performing.

Piping has been a wonderful career. It has given me the chance to return to college and finally get a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science. I am now (2014) in the Green (Sustainable Enterprise) MBA program at Dominican University of California. I live in west Marin County where I am working to regenerate soil and raise heirloom food crops on a piece of property where I am a tenant.

I offer private instruction in bagpiping and am usually accepting new students. My students usually stay with me for quite a while. Many join pipe bands. I has been very satisfying to pass along this unusual and arcane form of musical expression.

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