What’s the strangest location you’ve played or seen music played at?

What’s the strangest location you’ve played or seen music played at?

If this thread’s been done before, apologies, I did have a quick search of the archives.

OK, everyone’s heard of the "Mile High Club", but what’s the strangest location you’ve played, or seen/heard music being played? I recall seeing a bunch of Donegal fiddle players playing on a horse-drawn carriage going along Union Street in Aberdeen several years ago during the sadly demised Aberdeen Alternative Festival. Kenny will remember this too, I’m sure.

Your stories please - and they don’t have to be clean…….

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Lossly organized maching band (like they have in New Orleans at funerals), complete brass section marching down the streets of Dumbo Brooklyn at night with a mob of dancing fools (myself included) surrounding the band (total of maybe 200 people…this was our vision of a party). Residents of the area were so mad that they were throwing water out of thier apartment windows down onto us.

Also, an underground parking lot of a financial institution. That was broken up by the police in a matter of an hour or two.

Also, in a swamp.

aAhhhh…those were the party days…they come like that anymore.

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Nt particularly weird but a odd story. A friend of mine and I had just played a gig in Brasov, Transylvania. we headed off to a pub and after many a strong drink staggered off to bed. On our way home, I decided to play some tunes on the harmonica; my friend joined me on the fiddle.

Of course, we were accosted by two Romanian policemen (who were almost as drunk as us) who wanted to confiscate our passports. Being wise to this trick - they charge you to get it back - we took them to another pub, got them paralytic drunk and they let us off. We still had to buy them a bottle of whiskey as a parting gift. Bollixes.

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Big traffic hold up on the A46 one summer day. No possibility of moving for a long time, got out of the car and sat on the grass and played for the rest of the lost souls to like or hate as they chose.

In a ruin on a mountainside.

Also also in a swamp.

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It has been done before but it’s a fun topic. I’ve played in a graveyard in Winchester, on the channel tunnel train, on a glacier in Switzerland, a service station on the M25, in a river (cooling off after playing at Stonehenge), a boat in dry dock in Essex and, yes, in the proverbial brewery.
And at a ceilidh in Dorset recently, the room was so small that most of the band landed up playing in the fireplace!

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We played Irish music at a Bar Mitzvah once, does that count?

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I’m also due to play country/bluegrass at a wedding next month. As most of the material is about breaking up, being dumped or killing your wife, that makes it a strange place I suppose.

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I once saw a fluter and a whistler dodge into a telephone box to swop tunes and avoid the unwanted attentions of a bevy of bodhran players and guitarists who had them surrounded.By the way, is bevy the correct collective noun for bodhran players?I`ve heard of a parcel of rogues and a charm of goldfinches so what about the goat thumpers?

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Surely "a racket"?

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a thicket?

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Bundoran on the 12th july about 1976. Everyone who didn’t want to get involved in the marches evacuated most of the towns in Ulster. I found meself with Seamus and Manus McGuire in a hotel which was stuffed to the gills with screaming Paddies, so we got the key to the toilet which was incredibly large and along with half a dozen other musiciens, locked ourselves inside. It was a great session except when people tried to batter down the door…………..

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A skinfull?

We played at a bubble car rally once. Not sure who got the strangest looks.

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Funny you should mention Seamus & Manus Ian. I remember having a session with them, many moons ago, in a caravan on Skye.

Or was that Caravan actually in the Sky! - Ah the 70s!!!

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Mile high…charter flight to Ireland. The plan stuffed to the gills with drunk chicagoans demanding tunes of me. I could barely play at that point.

Riverbed in Japan. Someone’s birthday party, I believe.

Performance for my japanese company at a hotsprings spa. Me dressed in a kimono.

Bathroom session at Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Middle of a corn field.

I’ve always wanted to play the Coolin on the top of Ben Bulben.

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Sneaked into the large kitchen with some others at the Gweedore hotel after the bars got too crowded. The staff caught us and moved us out after 20 mins or so

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Aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Eagle under full sail—playing my harmonica. Being at sea is like a weather mutiplier—rotten days couldn’t be worse, and when it is nice, it couldn’t get any better.

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Surely the collective noun for goat thumpers is "a butting of bodhranistas."

Odd places I’ve done gigs:
In a library (shhhhhh!)
In the concrete concession hall of a football stadium. (Can you say "echo chamber?")
In a parking garage.
Under a tall tree in a lightning storm.

Odd places I’ve played music:
Behind the steering wheel, going down the highway.
In a kayak going down a river.
While riding a unicycle.
In a bivvy shelter too small to sit up in.

Chiff & Fipple had a great photo recently of a guy playing his polymer flute while sitting armpit deep in the gin-clear Touloumne River in Yosemite National Park. I remember thinking that the cold water must help in hitting that upper octave….

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About 15 years ago I was at the University of Exeter as a visiting scholar, and used to play folk and bluegrass guitar on the High St in between research projects.

One weekend I decided to head down to the quay to see what I could see, and set up for a bit of busking near the now-defunct Exeter Maritime Museum. The then-curator saw me and invited me to play on a 19th century American steamboat. He even fed me. I didn’t make any money, but it was an interesting little afternoon.

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Well being totally dull I can’t claim to have played anywhere particularly exciting, but one friend has played GHB on top of Mount Fuji (being filmed by heliocopter for the Fuji rock festival), only problem was he was too high to get any music out of it so it had to be overdubbed at a more sensible altitude. My wife and her mates also entertained the lucky occupants of the London to Edinburgh train on at least two occasions to an impromptu session as they crossed the border….

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Nice ones above.

Uh, let’s see…

On the USS Constitution for a bunch of drunken Tennesseans who kept screaming "Skynard!"

Also on a transatlantic flight (see Jode above)

On numerous planes parked on the tarmac or in airport lobbies

Standing up in the ‘tween-cars passage on the Edinburgh-London train

In an early-17th century New England graveyard by starlight

On the back of a pickup truck, playing bass drum for a New Orleans brass band during Mardi Gras

Various other Mardi Gras in New Orleans gigs

On multiple ferries

In a livestock hanger about 500 feet square during a "Celtic Festival" in mid-September in Amarillo Texas.

Sitting on a six-foot-high mantlepiece in a very crowded brewpub in Taos NM (okay, it was a large and massive stone mantlepiece 🙂 )

Loch Ness at night

Stonehenge at night (God, this is starting to sound like Spinal Tap…)

Not weird, but fun: on the quays the day in 1977 when the US Tall Ships sailed into Boston harbor

A friend has composed tunes on a banjo-uke while driving solo east to west across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Of couse, the weirdest places to play were always to be found while playing in bars. But that was a function of weird people, not locations. Despite Ron P’s "they don’t have to be clean", there are a bunch of bar stories which I can’t recount because the various statutes of limitations haven’t yet run out.

There must be more, but I can’t think of any right now.

chris smith

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outside a roman-style amphitheatre in Nimes, South of France in the sunshine at 10am last summer-myself and my friend had to leave our hostel and we werent travelling til later in the evening, so we sat down for a few tunes to while away the hours……but as it happened, unbeknownst to us, Phil Collins was doing a gig there that night. We saw all the trucks but didnt know what they were for. But later in the afternoon we wandered into a pub for a drink and were accosted by a couple of roadies…apparently the whole crew had been looking at us, and come to the conclusion that we were Phil Collins fanatics, and were already queuing for the best seats, and that the purpose of the Irish music was to tempt Phil out because apparently he’s fond of a reel or jig now and again! So we set the record straight, no, we were far too young to be Phil Collins fanatics, we ended up befriending these lads and they offered us a lift to Barcelona with them, which we would have happily taken only for the fact that we were flying home that night!

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St Patricks Reform Home for boys on the Glen road in Belfast. Two of us did a booking for the inmates. And I’ve heard all the "Johnny Cash" jokes.

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So no jokes about captive audiences then

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I’ve heard rumours about a certain Highland piper who was apparently spotted riding round Lorient at some ungodly hour in the morning riding pillion on a motorbike whilst playing the pipes. Must’ve been an interesting Doppler shift effect there.

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On the side of a tumulus near Newgrange - we were suddenly startled by a bunch of farm workers who appeared over the top - they thought we were the fairies, we thought they were……..
Trafalgar Square
The Tower of London
Plus - you haven’t paid your dues as a musician till you’ve played for the inmates of a mental hospital……

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Airport security in Damascus.

They asked me what the banjo was.

I played a tune.

They said "Ah! Muzika!"

God love ‘em.

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We play St Paddy’s Day concerts in a few local nursing homes every year. In one of them, which is a Catholic home that mostly has Quebequois elders, we encountered the liveliest bunch of old folks around. They had a ball—loved the tunes, especially the reels. And about half-way into the show, when I pulled out my button accordion, they burst into applause, even before I played a note. Turned out that most of them had spent many a happy hours in their youth dancing to fiddles and accordions—so the box brought back fond memories. So the setting, not so strange, but the audience……priceless.

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I did children’s theater for a couple of years. Traveling troupe. I was called upon to do a few musical numbers on fretless banjo when playing a pirate. The show required me to do a prat fall at one point, and when playing a reform school a cute little tyke yelled out, "He’s out cold. Get his watch."

I think the most interesting thing about this thread is how hard it is for me to come up with something that hasn’t already been mentioned. Parking garage of an insurance company? One of my standard practice places when the neighbors get p*ssy. Standing up to my chest in a trout stream? Yeah, been there, done that. Motorbike? A trumpet player I was transporting thought it was a dandy time to play the William Tell Overture. Corn fields, tents, graveyards (Old Salem and at the tomb of Rabbi Lev in Prague), sailing ships, mountain tops, barrow tops, men’s rooms, jail cells, Roman ruins, done ‘em all.

Even done a gig in the high security lock up section of a mental hospital. My audience was the criminally addicted to mind altering substances that turn you into a mother stabber and a father raper. I did a lot of old time American ballads. It seems that in group after the show they voiced the opinion that I was inordinately fascinated by death.

Oh, hey. No one has mentioned caves yet. I like playing in caves.

How about in the middle of a bicycle road race? I like to sing and whistle.

A friend of mine working as a night security guard liked to play his great pipes while making his rounds in a shopping mall. Apparently really weirded out a bunch of firemen responding to a false alarm.

Paul Horn recorded an album in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Cheops.

I hear tell a bit of music at the South Pole was always appreciated.

Wherever people go, someone is likely to play music there. Astronaut John Young whistled reveille on his way to the moon. That’s a bit more than a mile high.

KFG

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We played Broadmoor Prison Hospital’s Fun Day and Barbecue a few years back (that agent didn’t last).

We were told not to ask any of the "guests" in the grounds what they had done (as if we would) or to get argumentative.
As one of the Kray twins, The Yorkshire Ripper and the mass murderer Nielsen were there at the time we behaved ourselves.

I have also played at the back of a 747 out of Seattle (having busked in Seattle fish market for a week whilst waiting for a standby flight home).

Happy Days.

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LOL Geoff!

I was there for Will’s football concession hall experience. The funniest part was that we got there and they had set up the stage so we were seated in a big horseshoe arrangement so I felt like I was back in an orchestra. I felt as if we should put all the fiddles at the front, all the bodhrans in the back, and fluters right behind me (I played the viola) to dump green spit out where I would put my foot at some point… Heh.

Countless airports, yes. Emily and Jason and I were picking up Brides and Conan at BWI recently, and ended up playing for quite some time in front of the International Terminal. Some Swedish folks stopped to video tape us after their arrival in the States. God knows what they thought we were doing there.

I always try to find an empty gate to practise in if I’ve gotten through security very fast. Once I was practising away, my eyes closed (!), and then I opened my eyes and nearly jumped out of my skin, because some man was waiting to thank me for the tunes, and I hadn’t heard him.

I’ve also played behind the arrival/departure sign on the end of Terminal A where Frontier has it’s gates, trying to play very quietly so as not to annoy. I still ended up with an audience, on the other side of the sign, people jumping up and down over their heads in the back, trying to see the info on the screen.

Jason and I also got out our instruments on the train from NYC to Connecticut, but only for a couple of minutes, as the thing was quite crowded and we didn’t want to annoy.

But I can’t think of anything that hasn’t been mentioned — sides of roads, parks, mountain hikes, riversides, in cars, etc.

We’ve played a lot of nursing homes around St. Pat’s Day. My favorite was the one with the guy who would wake up with a jerk every few minutes or so and make a sound like a very loud parrot.

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In the hallway by the elevators at a science ficiton convention. (Wasn’t part of that one, just saw it.)

And if second hand stories count, a friend and his then band once played faery tunes at a wedding held in the Stonehenge replica in rural eastern Washington state.

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Fiction.

(Must proofread better.)

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There’s a Stonehenge replica in WA?

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I remember a gig many years ago, which an American fiddle playing friend had organised for us at the Edzell Military base (in Angus, Scotland). Now those in America might think, so what? But for us, it seemed incredibly bizarre that we couldn’t buy anything in the shop, as everything was in $, not £. It was a bit like Scotty had beamed us up to the Enterprise, then back down onto American soil!

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Hey Al Brown…were you in the Coast Guard? What were ya doin’ abourd the Eagle?

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Reading through the thread, somebody reminded me of the GHBs.

Every Paddy’s Day at 2 different bars I use to bar back at, one just off the NYC Paddy’s Day parade route, would have a GHB brigade march into the packed, smokey bar. With all the Irishmen obliterated, the band would march up ON TOP of the bar and belt out a few tunes. WOW! Talk about celtic pride! Just thinking about it brings a bold smile to my face.

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I play fiddle in our school’s Spanish hallway at lunch sometimes, and once I played for a while out in the middle of nowhere waiting for the sky to get dark enough to use a telescope. That was interesting- a few coyotes joined in! But I’d have to say the strangest place I’ve played ITM was during a lull in our classical orchestra rehersal. The rest of my first violin section looked at me like I’d gone mad… 🙂

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I once had a gig playing my fiddle for a goth/metal band in the south of Germany. Actually I spent more time creating effects by playing behind the bridge than actually playing any sort of actual music.

I’ve played while ice skating. Not the smartest thing really.

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two months ago I was exploring the ancient Zapotec site called Monte Alban located in the state of Oaxaca in south Mexico. The acoustics are very interesting there in that you can clearly hear someone talking all the way on the other side of the inner football field sized sanctuary. I remembered I had my tin whistle in my day pack, so I played a slow air in the very center of the field, and then a reel. I reckon i was the very first to play an irish tune there in the entire two thousand and some year existence of the site. Definitely should go down in the history books somewhere.

http://studentweb.tulane.edu/~dhixson/montealban/montealban.html

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"I reckon i was the very first to play an irish tune there in the entire two thousand and some year existence of the site."

Ummmmm, remember when I said how hard it was to come up with something that other people hadn’t already come up with?

I lived in Oaxaca for several months in ‘69 and ‘70. Saw the solar eclipse, comet Bennet, went on a few digs, played ball and…played tunes at Monte Alban. I’m sure I wasn’t the first.

Never could find one of those black pottery ocarinas worth a damn, but I’ve still got several of them lying around the house.

I haven’t been down there in a while, but my parents go for at least a few months every year. I should tag along sometime before they die. It’s a wonderful place.

When things settle down a bit more in that part of the world I’d like to have a few tunes at Angkor Wat as well, but I’ll assume someone’s prededed me. If it’s been around for more than a few centuries I figure it’s more likely that Irish music has made it there than not.

KFG

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Well I already mentioned a gig we had once at the grand opening of an auto parts store in the middle of nowhere on the Navajo reservation. But I think playing in the middle of a devastated refugee camp in rural Indonesia a week or so after the tsunami has got the be the most unusual, & emotional. Unless you count playing on an Indonesian fishing boat in the middle of the ocean transporting humanitarian supplies to rural villages. Muslim fishermen dancing on the deck like they were Michael Flatley, astonishing! 🙂

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okay, KFG, perhaps that was hubris. i’ll bet my guiness that nobody EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD played Cape Clear on a C whistle on Monte Alban, until I did. I was the first. And i beat YOU to it ;)

lovely place indeed. yup, tried alot of ocarinas; they didn’t cut the mustard.

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Ok, you got me on that one. I can’t say that nobody has, but I can state catagorically that I did not. Had never even owned a C whistle at that point. 🙂

Never played on an Indonesian fishing boat either, with or without dancing Muslims. It does indeed sound astonishing. I would have liked to have been there.

KFG

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I once played in a storm water drain with another guy at williamstown beach …..

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Hmmm… this thread seems to resemble a question on an adult website message board.

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"Hmmm… this thread seems to resemble a question on an adult website message board."

Well, I wouldn’t know, as I’ve never looked at one…..

But looking at some of the posts, I imagine your probably right in saying that……

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i played in a session once …

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Good one lisaniska!

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the other one was last summer, after they cut the alien out of my stomach, I was on nil by mouth for a week. Spent a couple of afternoons playing mandolin in the hospital corridor with a drip stuck in my left hand and a tube coming from my stomach, out of my nose to a bag of (full of blood and mucus) suspended on the top button of my pyjamas.

happy days.

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In the recreation room of a women’s prison (yes, we had to endure plenty of "captive audience" jokes afterwards!).

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—a string quartet in a creek-bed middle of nowhere pasture waiting for the wedding party to arrive on horseback

—string trio complete with grand piano on a flat-bed truck in a rodeo parade (behind the horses). Even tho’ the route was flat, the piano kept rolling…..

—a teacher of mine used to water ski and play the violin, holding the rope with his foot.

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Let’s see, St Pats day last year at Camp Wolverine in Kuwait, then in Baghdad a few months later at Saddam’s palace. (I always wanted to play the palace). Then I moved up north to Mosul and we spent many a night hunkered down. We had a great 4th of July celebration though.

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I went to a music festival a number of years ago praying someone had a ticket (the festival was sold out weeks, no months before). I sat in the six mile line and pulled out my dulcimer and started playing. When I had a crowd standing around I asked for a ticket and it seemed like everybody had an extra one for sale.

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I played piano for inmates to sing hymns in a young offenders institution. Not bad for an atheist.

Also did a gig on a rickety farm cart for (literally) a ‘barn dance’ surrounded by pig muck and people smoking whilst sitting on straw bales. The cart collapsed halfway through. No more barns after that.

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I played the same sort of gig with my girlfriend at the time only we forgot to take out the inappropriate songs from our list. We were in the middle of Dylan’s "I Shall Be Released" before we realized what we were singing.

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34 N 164 E, also known as Ocean Station Victor.

Now defunct, I’m told.

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Maybe in a small town in central Greece while teaching English there in ‘79. It was the first day of Lent; that evening the men gathered in the restaurant to eat a traditional stew of rice, spinach and squid and wash it down with enormous amounts of red wine. The local band turned up - three men playing clarinet, guitar and accordion. These guys never sat and played tunes for fun in the cafe: they only seemed to come out for weddings and occasions like this one, and when they did they played for hours on end, with people dropping the equivalent of twenty-pound notes in their boxes - a lot more then even than it is now. As the evening proceeded the newly-elected mayor circulated, doing his how-do-you-dos, and also a large clay phallus, brandished from hand to hand.

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On a gentler note, a tradition was established in recent times of celebrating a Northumbrian tune called "The Wild Hills Of Wannie" by actually climbing up onto the beastly place and trying to play tunes there in the wind and sodding rain, after a pub session somewhere in the approximate area: this on Boxing Day or New Year, I forget which - in the depths of winter, anyway. I don’t know if it still goes on.

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A group of us sang at the bottom of the Blue John Cavern in Derbyshire. The Accoustics were quite, quite interesting , especially when we sang rounds. Frightened the passing tour parties.

J

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in a dinghy in the middle of a lake at 4 in the morning, it was a practical joke of sorts as the evening before there was the blessing of the boats by the piper with the haggis ceremony afterward. So being the smart tart I am and the other smart tart I was with we decided to welcome the dawn and the new trout fishing season with riverdance and whiskey hashed airs.

I suspect we will be doing it this year too if we can find a like minded piper.

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