Heart of Louisiana: The Bagpiper of New Orleans

Heart of Louisiana: Bagpiper of New Orleans
Updated: Feb. 25, 2016 at 10:46 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Of all the musical sounds you can hear around New Orleans' French Quarter, there was something very special about watching a July sunset at Jackson Square and being serenaded by the bagpipes.

I remember thinking, "only in New Orleans." It was one of those impromptu performances that I love about this city. Fast-forward seven months to a street corner in the Lower Garden District, and that same bagpiper standing outside a coffee shop welcoming a sunny February morning.

His name is Timothy Wade. He says he travels a lot, mostly by bicycle and sail boat. His mother's family is from the South Louisiana
town of Lafitte. He says this is what he's always wanted to do.

"Honestly, I've wanted to play since I was 3 or 4 years old, and I've got a lot of time now to play and learn and kind of keep at it," Wade said.

It seems Washington Artillery Park in front of Jackson Square is a favorite spot to play, and sunset is the perfect time.

"I guess it's kind of beyond words," Wade said. "Really I don't know what to say other than it feels right, and I guess New Orleans needs a piper, so I want to be it, you know?"

Wade only starting playing the pipes five years ago. He's 47 now and admits he's still learning

"It's just worth it," he said. "It's hard and good and keen and I love it. And still learning - it's kind of like surfing. You had better keep going once you start. You can't stop in the middle of a tune and I'm still learning on it, just kind of making noise."

It's a typical New Orleans blend of sounds. In the distance, a brass band is playing on the other side of Jackson Square. The steam calliope on the paddle wheeler Natchez welcomes tourists for an evening cruise. You hear the bells of St. Louis Cathedral, and visitors pose for pictures with a piper.

Wade get a few tips and says he makes more than he spends, so he keeps playing.

"The goal is to be able to play tomorrow," he said.

The bagpipes bid farewell to the sun as it drops below the horizon.  People stroll along America's greatest river as the night creeps in. And a city is kissed goodnight with the sound of the bagpipes and a fading glow in the Western sky.

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