Stephen Burns Practices Bagpipes in City, DePauw Campus
UPS package car driver Stephen Burns is becoming a celebrity around Greencastle, Indiana and on the campus DePauw University, entertaining community members with his bagpipe playing during his lunch breaks.
“When I walk by playing, everyone gets their cell phones out to take photos or shoot video,” said Burns, who has worked at UPS since 2001 and is a member of Local 135 in Indianapolis. “It’s such a unique sound. I haven’t heard anyone say they don’t like to hear it.”
Burns, 34, started playing the bagpipes about four months ago. During lunchbreaks, he eats quickly and then practices. Because of the noise from the bagpipes he likes to practice outside instead of inside his home and his lunch hour is the perfect opportunity.
In high school, he played six instruments, including the bass clarinet, valve trombone and tuba. He took up the bagpipes after running across the same person on Facebook who recommended he play the instrument about 12 years ago. He didn’t have time then, but does now.
Burns is a member of the Indianapolis 500 Gordon Pipers, a group that performs at the Indianapolis 500 every May and at Indianapolis Colts’ home games among other venues. Two other Local 135 UPS members, Jon Lauman (drummer) and Dennis Summers (bass drum) are in the group. For information about the band, go to http://www.500gordonpipers.com/
Burns’ celebrity status was heightened recently when the local newspaper, the Banner Graphic, wrote a feature story about his lunchtime performances.
“When people see me on my route and I don’t have my bagpipes, they say ‘are you the guy who plays the bagpipes?’” said Burns who, along with his wife, Kristin, are parents to son Zachary, 12, and daughter Olivia, 3.
“We’re very proud of all our UPS members and I think what Stephen is doing is great for the Greencastle and DePauw University communities,” said Danny Barton, President of Local 135. “We’re proud of all three members of the Indianapolis 500 Gordon Pipers, who use their talents to entertain countless residents.”
Burns has played in downtown Greencastle and on the soccer fields of DePauw. One time, a student on the campus began cranking bagpipe music on his stereo to complement Burns’ live playing.
Burns started out in 2001 as a part-timer in the small sort, where he worked for more than six years. In 2008, he became a full-time package-car driver. He works in the Indianapolis hub.
“I’m very proud to be a Teamster,” he said. “I love the pay and benefits I have that I couldn’t get anywhere else.”