Since high school, Kevin Saunders has enjoyed sharing his bagpiping talent with a whole host of different audiences.
His list of many performances, both formal and informal, has included funerals, birthdays, committee meetings and weddings—indoors, outdoors, in the sun and rain, on street corners, in forests and even once atop a barn.
Recently, after coming home from a two-year bagpipe hiatus for an LDS mission in Taiwan, Saunders has even added the rooftops of UVU to his list of peculiar performances.
Each Wednesday after a class in the computer science building, Saunders grabs his bagpipe case and heads out with a friend or two for a mini concert at sunset.
Although Saunders’ performances at UVU are on the informal side, he has his share of competitions and brushes with celebrity.
“The best day was when I was at a bagpipe competition in Las Vegas and I got to play in front of my idol, Bob Warall…He now commentates for the bagpipe world championships in Glasgow.”
Saunders remembers both wearing a kilt that day at the outdoor performance and being extremely nervous at playing in front of Warall.
“That day it was super windy. I was embarrassed because you realize your kilt is blowing but you just keep playing,” Saunders said.
On the subject of kilts, Saunders noted that he currently doesn’t own his own but is planning on honoring a bit of his Scottish heritage by ordering one with his family’s tartan—the total cost at a whopping $1,300.
As part of the local and recently united band, The Soggy Scots, he and his good friends, Zach Lees and James Moyar, keep busy with several concerts in Salt Lake including last year’s Craft Lake City DIY Festival.
Although Saunders has recently given up bagpiping competitions in favor of performing at local venues, he has become a fine example of the opportunities that come around when you practice what you love.
Saunders reported that he gets requests to play at local events, including being invited to perform at half time of the UVU men’s soccer games.
However, Saunders still wants to keep his focus on an eternal perspective that he learned on his mission and not let success get in the way in spite of it.
“I wanted to quit [the bagpipes] because I either wanted to be the best or not at all. I didn’t want anything half way,” said Saunders.
After some coercion by his friends, Saunders decided he could play for enjoyment and still keep his focus family oriented.
“I used to play four hours a day, now I only play maybe once a week. I tried to give it up, but my friends convinced me to just keep playing,” Saunders said. “I’m happy now that I didn’t give it up.”
Kevin Saunders is a member of the Wasatch District Pipe band and The Soggy Scots. Visit wdpb.org and facebook.com/thesoggyscots for more information on bagpiping performances in Bountiful and Salt Lake.