J. Kevin Chapman is Bagpiping Chicago.
Bagpiping Experience and Professionalism
A gifted musician, Kevin began his vocation in music at the knee of his Irish mother, a concert pianist. He first played the piano, tin whistle, bugle and trumpet.
In 1974, he took up the bagpipes, and he hasn’t looked back. He is a graduate of the North American Academy of Piping and Drumming and the Balmoral School of Piping and Drumming. He trained with such bagpiping greats as Donald McBride, Bill Smiley, and Brian Donaldson.
Bagpiping Band Experience
During his more than 40 years of playing the bagpipes, Kevin has amassed a wealth of experience. For example, he played the bagpipes with the:
- Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band from 1978 to 2008
- Dundee Scottish Pipe Band from 2011 to present
From these bands, Kevin has continued to hone his skills.
He has played the bagpipes before four presidents, Pope John Paul II, Tip O’Neill, the late Cardinal Francis George, and both Chicago Mayors Richard Daley.
“It’s a lot of work,” says Kevin. “But it’s a lot of fun.”
Piping practice, pipe bands, and competitions challenge Kevin toward continuous self-improvement. They’ve also prepared him for solo bagpiping.
Bagpiping Chicago Solo Experience
A lifelong Chicago area native, Kevin has played numerous solo events. As Bagpiping Chicago (formerly known as the Mad Piper of Mount Prospect), he:
- Plays bagpipes at funerals
- Is a bagpiper at weddings
- Presents the history of bagpipes at libraries and schools
Furthermore, he has played at special events, [link] such as church services, parties, taverns, trade shows, and Bar Mitzvahs. He’s even piped for travelers on an Ireland-bound airplane that was delayed on the tarmac (the flight attendant’s request).
“Piping is an honor and can grace any special event,” says Kevin. “There are many functions that can be embellished with the music of the bagpipes. These can range from a tribute that reflects the somber atmosphere of a funeral to the celebratory energy and joy at a wedding.”
Bagpiping Practice and the “Olympics of Bagpiping”
Besides playing with pipe bands, Kevin also regularly perfects his piping ability through practice sessions. At times, a morning funeral will necessitate that these practice sessions are early in the morning—much to the consternation of his dozing family members, Kevin says.
Additionally, Kevin regularly competes in solo competitions, such as the Highland Games. The Highland Games are the “Olympics of Bagpiping.” At these competitions, Kevin achieved the distinction of first place in his category.
Reliability and Accuracy Make Bagpiping Chicago Special
In addition to his piping ability, Kevin holds an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in history and economics from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.
An Eagle Scout and a former Boy Scout Leader, Kevin puts great stock in being trustworthy, courteous, kind, cheerful, and in the case of funerals and memorial services: reverent.
“I’ve heard of bagpipers who simply don’t show,” says Kevin. “I pride myself in being reliable.”
Recently retired from a career as a salesman and sales management, Kevin now uses his listening skills to understand the needs of the families and others who book his services. His retirement also gives him scheduling flexibility. As such, he’s often available on short notice.