I was honored recently to be invited to perform with The Chieftains when they came here on their 50th Anniversary Tour the weekend of Oct. 4-5.
I had performed with them first in 2001 at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, California and then again in 2009 also at Davies Symphony Hall.
The first time that I met them was on the streets of San Francisco where my wife and I were enjoying a nice pre-concert dinner and we saw Matt Molloy walking down the street. I approached him and introduced myself as a member of Na Piobairi Uilleann. Matt invited me to come backstage at the intermission where we met the rest of the band and I was asked to play whistle with them, which I did.
When I found out that they were coming to town I contacted their managing agent and through several emails was asked to perform with them in the show’s finale.
They agreed to come by the day before the concert to C.B. Hannegan’s in Los Gatos for some dinner and drinks. We had a wonderful time getting to know them better and I was told later that they also enjoyed themselves.
I showed up with my wife at 4 p.m. for the sound check and we were ushered backstage where Paddy, Matt, Kevin, and the rest of the band members were getting ready. They went through the sound check for each member of the band and then I was invited on stage to do my sound check with them.
We had some time to play a few tunes and tune up as well as talk a bit with each band member and take some photos. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with all of them. Paddy commented on what a beautiful full set of pipes that I play. I told him that they were made by Charles Roberts in Sligo, Ireland in 1998.
We had a nice catered dinner with all the band and crew before the concert started at 7:30 pm.
The Black Brothers were the front band and played for about a half hour. They are from Ireland originally but now live in the area.
The Chieftains came on stage at 8:20 p.m. and did their usual outstanding performance.
Some of the highlights were Paddy playing “Women of Ireland” on the whistle, and, of course, the finale which included members of the San Francisco Stewart Highland Pipe band and some lovely Irish dancers.
I was introduced right before the finale and came out and took Paddy’s seat while he stood next to me to play whistle. We played “Miss McLeod” in a round-robin fashion with everyone in order getting to do a solo. Paddy, again, introduced me before my solo and I played “The March of the King of Loais.” It was wonderful to be able to play with them again and I will never forget it. A real highlight in my piping career for sure!
They are by far the nicest folks anyone could wish to meet and I was extremely honored to be able to perform with them again!
On a technical note; Paddy played his lovely Leo Rowsome full set and Matt played his Patrick Olwell flute.
Editor's Note: Los Gatos resident Richard Katz is the bagpiper for the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department and the Town of Los Gatos. He wrote this first-person account of his participation in The Chieftains concert especially for Saratoga and Los Gatos Patch sites.