The Legendary Pasadena Piper Plays In-Car Recorder Concerts at Stop Lights

It’s fun members of the community like this who bring a smile to my face.

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The Legendary Pasadena Piper Plays In-Car Recorder Concerts at Stop Lights ©The Legendary Pasadena Piper Plays In-Car Recorder Concerts at Stop Lights

Most people who live in an active community take pride in sharing streets with their local cast of characters. Whether it’s a person who walks eight dogs or somebody who practices nunchucks in the front yard, these people bring smiles to your face with whatever it is they’re known for. My parents used to live down the street from a guy who’d belt out bagpipe tunes every weekend morning for the entire neighborhood to enjoy. When I worked in downtown Chicago, I’d see the Walking Man schlepping around what seemed like every other day or so. In Pasadena, California, there’s the Pasadena Piper. Or simply the “flute guy.” 

The Pasadena Piper is an older gentleman who’s been captured on camera in his car jamming out on a recorder, producing some epic face-melting renditions of well-known bangers. What’s particularly neat is that he seems to take advantage of slow-moving traffic to serenade passersby and adds a whole new layer to vehicular joy.

This cat came across my desk via Twitter user @boring.cars. Here he is tickling the tone holes to a classic ZZ Top tune.

This looks to be the original video. After a quick search on YouTube, a bunch of videos pop up from different channels, all of which have the same “this dude’s a legend” vibe:

Here’s an up-close video that seals the deal for his status as a rad dude. Just look at that facial expression. 

As the above-linked videos show, he has great taste in cars, too. Most notably, he’s been filmed in a Honda Element but has also been seen in a ’90s Subaru Outback, first-gen Toyota Prius (hot-take: that’s the only good-looking Toyota Prius), and others.

Most videos of him are a few years old, but according to Reddit, the fascinating flautist is still out and about, as of a year ago. And everywhere I researched online, everyone seems to agree that he’s a welcome and beloved part of the community.

Jake Bowman did some brilliant shoe leather reporting on the gent for Vice a while back. It’s an in-depth interview that paints a picture of a dude who’s led a fun life with a recorder by his side since elementary school. He’s also got specific reasons why he’s often spotted on slow, major thoroughfares around the SoCal foothill town of Pasadena.

One particular quote from the Vice article stuck out to me. It’s the kind of quote that’s nice to think about when your outlook on society, for any reason, might get a tad negative.

“Some people think you’re solely playing the recorder in your car for attention onto you. What’s your response to that?

‘If what that means is I’m just doing it so people look up from their cell phone, it’s not me receiving their attention. It’s me rebooting their system. I’m not doing it to impress somebody, if that’s the thought.'”

Jake Bowman for Vice

I tip my cap to the guy. I imagine he’s put smiles on many peoples’ faces because of his public performances, and it’s stuff like this that really helps you appreciate the people who make a community a more enjoyable place to be. Good on him for utilizing something as mundane as slowly rolling traffic as his stage, and being behind the wheel of some solid, beloved cars to boot.

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