It wasn't until Angus Richardson — along with his brothers Hamish and Fergus — left Australia to come to America that he began playing bagpipes professionally.
"We attended a high school in Bathurst, Australia, and played in its bagpipe band," Richardson says. "We grew up playing pipes, but we also had a rock band we called The Missing Links ... until we learned there was an American band with that name."
Who: BROTHER, with The Novelists and Alec Dickinson
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2
Where: Jackson WellSprings, 2253 Rogue Valley Highway 99 N., Ashland
Tickets: $10 in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com; $15 at the door
Call: 541-778-1585 or see www.brothermusic.com
Richardson doesn't play the pipes in any traditional sense, he says. BROTHER — now with Drew Reid on didgeridoo and keys and L.A.-based percussionist Dalbo Allen — mixes modern with ancient for a sound that merely reflects Celtic and Australian tribal influences.
Along with the Scottish Highland pipes, Richardson also plays a Fender Telecaster, and "Didgeridrew" brings electronic loops and whistles to the mix.
BROTHER will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Jackson WellSprings, 2253 Rogue Valley Highway 99 N., Ashland. Local drummer Michael St. John will sit in for Allen. Tickets for the all-ages show cost $10 in advance and can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com. Tickets will cost $15 at the door. The Novelists, an acoustic folk band from Reno, Nev., will open the show, and local Americana troubadour Alec Dickinson also will take the stage.
"Most of our music has Celtic themes running through it," Richardson says. "The didg' droning is a big part."
Reid already was tuned into the Celtic music scene when he was introduced to BROTHER.
"He walked out of a record store in Boulder and heard the sound of bagpipes and didgeridoo," Richardson says. "He followed the sound around the corner and found us playing on the street. He'd just bought a didg', and he got his first lesson from Hamish. After that, we'd see him on the road regularly, and he'd get on stage with us and jam.
"He's become a vital part of the band, bringing keyboards, sampling and electronics to the sound. The band became more Celtic, Australian tribal, hypnotic and trancey."
When brothers Angus, Hamish and Fergus Richardson first recorded and performed as a rock band in Los Angeles, they found lucrative work as street buskers.
"We got out a didgeridoo, bagpipes and a big, drum kit and played outside the Hollywood Bowl, the Los Angeles Music Center, Universal CityWalk and Venice Beach.
"That paid the rent for awhile and helped us develop our Celtic, tribal sound," Richardson says.
The new sound resonated with the brothers and caught on with audiences. BROTHER began playing at festivals around the country. The band's sound continued to evolve after Hamish and Fergus left the group. With Reid and Allen on board, the band kept the didgeridoo and the pipes, and brought its music into modern times.
"It's been great for us," Richardson says. "We've kept the basic elements and traditional resonance of the didg' and the pipes, but we're going to a whole new place. It's very celebratory, and it appeals to people of all ages."
Richardson's writing is evolving to another place as well, he says. As the principal lyricist and composer, his newest song is "Give Me Some Love (Not 1984)."
"I read the book in high school, and I never believed anything like it could happen," he says. "But now that I'm a father, I'm wondering what kind of world we're going to leave our kids."
The first part of the song's video was shot in a New York City subway and barber shop; the second part was recorded on the railroad tracks near his home in Ashland.
"It's not yet released to radio," Richardson says. "Though we've unofficially released it to our fans. It's getting great response."