More To The Story: Bagpipe Player

Dave Staley meets the man playing bagpipes under the trees

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – I hear music, and it’s coming from the old cemetery, right across the street from UTC.

Chris Johnson is playing his bagpipes. Under a tree. All alone.

Johnson is an adjunct teacher at the college. Several times a week, he spends his lunch break right here. Under the same oak tree. All by himself. Relaxing and practicing his pipes. Pipes the 41 year old Johnson’s been friends with for a long time.

“I started playing when I was 15 years old at the instigation of my father, who loved the bagpipes. He offered to finance the operation, I said sure, I was already into music a lot. He said ‘would you like to play the bagpipes?’ I said ‘OK!’

Johnson actually stopped playing the pipes for about 20 years. They stayed in his closet. He only started back up about a year ago. Because he had some inspiration!

Chris Johnson’s bagpipe playing is not confined to just his lunch hour break. You see, Chris is a member of the Chattanooga Pipe Band. It’s a band that plays all over our area, at various events. Such as this weekend’s event here at Rock City!

The band, which gets together to practice every week, performed all weekend, in conjunction with Rock City’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Chris was unable to make it for this performance. BUT……..he seldom misses a chance to practice under his tree. Why the cemetery, one might ask? Simple!

“Bagpipes are associated with funerals. If you see bagpipes playing in a movie, it’s usually at a funeral, especially if its military. And for me, it’s just a big open space close to work. Where it doesn’t bother anybody. It’s a big sound!”

So when not performing, Chris will continue to practice. In his same spot. Working those same nine notes. In the most unusual of places.
Dave Staley, News 12 Now.

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