Chris Higgins, writing in Medium, traces Portland’s bagpiping, Darth Vader-mask-wearing, unicycling hero named Brian Kidd. It’s a fascinating story:
Although the Unipiper seems tailor-made for the age of YouTube (and indeed that video topped 1.8 million views this month), his origin story begins in 2005. While Kidd studied marine biology at the University of Virginia, he found a unicycle in a dumpster and learned to ride it over the course of three weeks. He had already begun learning the bagpipes with a local group of pipers, though it took him a year to become truly proficient. He started by playing the practice chanter, a sort of training-wheels instrument that is bag-free, making it blessedly quiet.
After graduation, Kidd moved to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and began a paid internship at an aquarium. He found that he was the only bagpiper for hire in the area, and often performed at weddings and funerals. “Weddings were usually around $250, funerals were $150,” he says. Although he also rode his unicycle from time to time, he had not yet combined the two disciplines.
The two hobbies came together one fateful evening in 2007, after Kidd and his friends from the aquarium had been drinking. While he says he had thought about bagpiping while riding the unicycle before, he had always been afraid of falling off and damaging the pipes. That’s a real concern when a good set of pipes runs north of $1,500.
A healthy dose of beer eliminated that worry. When a friend asked Kidd if he was capable of playing the bagpipes while riding his unicycle, Kidd put down his Corona and said, “You know, I bet I could.” And so he did.
Read the rest of the story here.