Piped In

By Hannah Wallace October 31, 2007

With a father who hailed from Glasgow, Larry Jacobs grew up in New York City listening to the stirring call of the bagpipe on records and at British military bands’ yearly visits to Madison Square Garden. But, “Whenever I asked my parents if I could learn the bagpipes, I was told no, the neighbors would never put up with it,” he says.

Nine years ago, on St. Patty’s Day at Bennigan’s at Midtown Plaza, the now 56-year-old attorney was enjoying the music of two Riverview Kiltie Band members when he confessed to his wife his lifelong desire to play the bagpipes. “She said, ‘Why don’t you?’ and I nearly fell out of my chair,” he recalls.

A call to Kiltie band director Gary Reinstrom resulted not only in finding a teacher who would help Jacobs master the bagpipes, but a few years later in co-founding with Reinstrom the Jacobites Pipe & Drum Band (so named after a ragtag group of Highland rebels who fought against England in the late 1600s).

What started as six pipers and four drummers has now grown to 25 bagpipers, a dozen drummers, guitarists, a chorus and Highland dance corps. All are professionals in other fields, including physicians, nurses, sheriff’s deputies and a judge. Their first public performance was on Sept. 11, 2002—a memorial parade in downtown Bradenton for the victims of 9/11.

The troupe plays at weddings and funerals, at institutions like the Pines of Sarasota, and at public concerts from September through April. (A schedule of upcoming concerts can be found at And it offers free lessons on the bagpipe and in Highland dancing; students range from middle schoolers to retirees and even professional musicians who play other instruments.

Jacobs’ first solo public performance was, naturally, his most nerve-wracking: playing Amazing Grace and Danny Boy at a funeral. “Both are fairly basic tunes, but being the first time I was a nervous wreck; I knew I would forget everything I knew.”

A former prosecutor in Pinellas County who now practices family and criminal law in Sarasota, Jacobs wistfully says, “I’d do anything to play the bagpipes and not do anything else.”

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