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It’s in the bag 

Oscar Wilde once defined a gentleman as a man who knows how to play the bagpipes … but doesn’t. I suppose that makes Paul Dunn more a Scotsman than a gentleman; he plays his bagpipe for about two hours a day.

“You’ve got to tame the instrument, or it will tame you,� the half Scottish, half Irish musician says. “We keep pretty well polished, even though we’re just a street band.�

Dunn and his Central Coast Pipes and Drums, a band of a dozen or more drummers and bagpipers, have been playing together since 1999, but St. Patrick’s Day is the one day a year to truly showcase their talent.

Next Thursday they will be spend the holiday entertaining revelers and touring some of the county’s most festive watering holes. Their day will begin at the unlikely APIO produce packaging plant in Guadalupe, where the plant’s Irish owner has hired the pipers for the last three years.

From there, the band will head to Grover Beach for a 3 o’clock pub crawl from O’Reilly’s up to the Red Fox, and then into the Village of Arroyo Grande, where they’ll march in the fifth annual Finnegans Wake, a spirited funeral procession that takes participants from Ralph & Duane’s to Bill’s Place.

From 7:30 to 8:30 the band will perform in front of Mother’s Tavern on Higuera Street. A serious bagpipe enthusiast, Mother’s owner Paul Brown even hired the entire entourage of Pipes and Drums to play at his wedding a few years back. It’s not unusual in the off-season for individuals in the band to play solo at weddings or even funerals, but newlyweds rarely want to hear a full band of highland pipers.

After the gig at Mother’s, the Pipes and Drums will make its way up Higuera for an obligatory appearance at McCarthy’s, and finally cap off the night with a private party.

Dunn and his colleagues also find gigs at various Scottish and Irish-themed festivals throughout the year, as well as the summertime Stone Soup Festival in Grover Beach, but it’s not enough for Dunn to drop his day job as an energy compliance consultant. One of the band’s biggest shows is the Burns Supper, an annual festival honoring the Scottish poet Robert Burns.

The great highland bagpipes played by Central Coat Pipes and Drums are in fact a traditional Scottish instrument, but Ireland also has a rich heritage of bagpipe playing. On March 17, the band will forgo its customary Scottish repertoire in favor of tunes like “Danny Boy,� “Old Irish Eyes,� and the traditional selection of Irish jigs and reels. As pipe major Dunn explains, “Everyone’s Irish on St. Patty’s Day.�



Fast Facts

DocuTeam, the Central Coast’s only locally owned, full-service document management company, has just improved one of New Times’ favorite office appliances. The company’s new truck, the UltraShred Paper Predator, offers the very cutting edge in shredder technology, with maximum security and confidentiality delivered straight to your place of business. To arrange for the destruction of your most sensitive documents, call the DocuTeam at 544-0440. …

… For those more interested in reading documents rather than destroying them, the Literacy Council for San Luis Obispo County is celebrating Membership Drive Month in March. The SLO Literacy Council is a nonprofit organization committed to assisting adult learners and their families in the development of English language skills. To make your pledge or volunteer your time, contact the Literary Council at 541-4219, or visit them online at …

… Edna Valley Vineyard’s series of innovative cooking classes continues throughout the month of March with three more mouth-watering seminars that are guaranteed to pair well with the region’s definitively delicious Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. The remaining courses include Get Stuffed on Wednesday, March 16, Grilled Accents on Tuesday the 22nd, and a Sausage Making class on Tuesday the 29th. Each class runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Edna Valley Vineyard, located at 2585 Biddle Ranch Road on the outskirts of San Luis Obispo. For tickets and reservations, call the vineyard at 544-5855, Ext. 22, or visit …

… The San Luis Obispo chapter of the Women for WineSense (WWS) invites you to Women in the Wine Industry, a look at the world of wine through the eyes of a variety of local women in the industry. The event takes place on Thursday, March 10, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Park Ballroom in Paso Robles. Call the SLO WWS at 546-0895 for tickets and additional information.


Staff Writer Jeff Hornaday has temporarily misplaced his lucky charms. E-mail him at

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