Charlie Rutan
Part I

Piped for former President G. Bush Sr., Her Majesty Queen Noor Regent of Jordan, Rock star Rod Stewart & the funeral of Phillie’s pitching great Tug McGraw. Gigged with the legendary Jazz Bagpiper Rufus Harley. Featured on 'Its your Call with Lynn Doyle’ Comcast CN8. Did a Guest spot on the John DeBella show, WMGK 102.9 FM. Seen and heard on local NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, Comcast & TV Finland! Listed in Who’s Who (USA & World, 2001-2004). Performed on Italian Pipes at the Smithsonian Institute, Wash, DC. Played French pipes for ‘Confreres du Chevaliers du Tastevin’. Principal bagpipe of the Reading Symphony Orchestra. Piper with the indie rock group "Sylvia Platypus". Performed Haddonfield ,Voorhees & Temple University’s official 9/11 memorial. US Airways inaugural nonstop flight from Glasgow to Philadelphia in 2004. Diageo /Origlio (Guinness Stout) Philly launch of ‘Smithwick’s Ale” in 2004. The Walker family of Scotch whiskies in Phila area, 2002. The yacht “MiGaea” during her stays in Phila, 2000 & 2003. Bristol Riverside Theatre’s production of‘Brigadoon’. Performed at Kimmell Center, Reading Sovereign Centre, Reading Phillies pregames & countless other venues in the greater Philadelphia region; for Organizations, Corporations, and Gatherings of all sorts public and private.

David Cohen: I know the work you do and I know the work Janet Bressler does. I was surprised in the pairing of the two of you in Sylvia Platypus. That was a connection I never expected and it seems so natural. How did the two of you start working together?

Charles Rutan: In a nutshell; Craigslist.
I was booked for a spot on the John DeBella show. I think it was in 2010. It was for a St. Patrick’s contest where I would play rock tunes on the pipes and people would call in to say what they were. I knew there were a lot of tunes that would work but never really sat down to work them out. This gave me the opportunity. At the same time I was trying to figure out ways to expand the bagpipes from the regular repertoire for myself. Around that time I answered an ad on Craigslist; Rock Band Looking for Anything.

David: I’ve seen Janet perform in the past. The bagpipes are a perfect fit with her classics.

Charles: We are working on a few more as well as new material. We’re all ambitious and working hard on this. All of us have been in music for a long time.


David: When I went to see Sylvia Platypus perform I was blown away and didn’t expect to have such an experience. It shouldn’t have surprised me knowing the work the both of you do. What also surprised me was when I realized Philly music legend Bill Barone was the lead guitarist. How did he get involved?

Charles: He is actually a friend of Janet’s. She convinced him to join. It all just jelled really well. Bill is a master of all that and knows how to get a rock band up and started.

David: You play quite an array of instruments in the band including alto sax.

Charles, In Sylvia Platypus I’m doing three different kinds of highland bagpipes: one of which is electric, uilleann pipes, Italian pipes, English horn, tenor sax, tin whistle and ciaramella. Anything I can do to add a wind sound.


David Cohen: I remember you telling me you went to school with Composer Andrea Clearfield, was that your instrument in school?

Charles: I was actually a composition major.


David: Was there a main instrument?

Charles: It’s a long story. I started on the clarinet as a kid and by the time I got through high school I was playing bass clarinet, alto, tenor and baritone sax, bass guitar and guitar. I basically played anything I could get my hands on except for brass. When I went to school I started on clarinet but I realized my interest was in composition.

David: Where do the pipes come in?

Charles: My family is Scottish and we went over to Scotland a lot when I was younger and picked up the chanter there. I learned a couple tunes and put it away. I picked it up when I got out of college and it went from there.

David: What kind of pipes do you use?

Charles: The four types of pipes I find myself focusing on are highland, uilleann, Italian and French. My highland pipes I have three sets that I use in circulation. I have a set I use for rain days or when I’m playing in pubs and I know they’re going to get knocked around. They’re covered with duct tape. They look terrible but they never let me down. And of course the pipes have a great chanter on them.

David: Who makes them?

Charles: They are put together from other sets, the two tenors are Canadian the bass from 1920’s maybe Anderson and it has a skin bag. The other set is for gigs I play in where I have to play in concert Bb or if I have to lay them down for more than an hour an then pick up to play relatively in tune. They’re Hardy’s. I have three sets of chanters I use for that. Two are Hardy chanters in Bb very old maybe 45 years old and I have a newer Strathmore chanter that I use for band gigs that have a nice band sound. Then with Sylvia Platypus I use a bagpipe that is set up for A440, that chanter is by Ruddy MacLeelan. With Sylvia Platypus I have a special chanter that I hot rodded and pitched it up to B natural so I can play in the key of E. That way I can play with Billy on guitar. I have another pipe that is electric that's the red pipe which is electronic from Germany. That can transpose in any of the 12 keys and has four different sounds on it. It has an extended chromatic range so it can play all the white and black notes up to an octave and minor 6th.

David: That a lot of equipment to carry. That’s when you find out who your friends are.

Charles: Yes it is!


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