George W. Martin is sitting with a drink at the Connecticut Irish Festival, listening to the Highland Rovers play. He is in a corner with his mother but is highly noticeable, wearing a feather in his cap and a dark waistcoat, along with a kilt and knee-high green socks, and with unwieldy bagpipes by his side. Martin’s more formal title is the Wild Scotsman, and he makes a living from piping, playing at weddings, funerals and festivals.
Martin wasn’t always a full-time piper, and only six years ago decided to do it professionally when the shipping and receiving company he worked for downsized. “My wife – my fiancé at the time – said this was the time to take the leap of faith,” he says. He has been piping for a living ever since, and is a pipe sergeant with the Gaelic Highland Pipe Band, which is connected with the Irish American Community Center in Connecticut.
Martin’s wife is a program developer for University of Connecticut Medical, and her job gives the family some security. She also sings, and plays drums in his pipe band. His family are Scottish rather than Irish, but Martin says, “we’re all Celtic! Irish, Scottish.” He grew up in Pennsylvania and began playing in the seventies.
By age 11, he was going regularly to band practice. Martin has performed at all sorts of occasions, even twice at bar mitzvahs. “That was definitely different!” he says. Neither downsizing nor a small thing like a recession worry Martin, who is currently setting up a business selling and leasing musical instruments called the Wee Hoose of Supplies. “Before, I was working 12-hour shifts, and raising five kids, and piping,” he says, with a grin. “Now I do the music full-time.” For more inforamtion on The Wils Scotsman, visit http://www.pipingforalloccasions.net/16894.html