Raasi Caselli Rush
Hobbies: playing bagpipes, horses, participating in 4-H Club
Best memory: winning first place in a competition in Canada
What comes your way when you play bagpipes on the street: hugs, money, offers of illegal drugs
Worst reaction to the sound: “‘You’re loud. Can you move?’ And I’m like, OK. I’m used to it now. So I get moved a lot but I play a lot of places downtown whenever there’s a lot of people. If you hear bagpipes, it’s probably me.”
Can you tell me a little bit about the bagpipes?
I’ve been playing bagpipes for about five years. I’m in a band. Shocking, there’re bagpipe bands. It’s really cool. And so there’s band competitions and there’s solo competitions and there’s Highland Games…so my band, we go through the Pacific Northwest, we go up to Canada like three times and we go into Washington about two, and then there’s one in Portland.
What’s your favorite part of traveling with your band?
Just listening to the music and listening to the professionals at the Highland Games. Because it’s so interesting to hear like how well they can move their fingers and just how good they are. It blows my mind every time I listen to them, because they’re just so good.
How did you get into bagpipes?
I say it runs through the family. So my great grandfather, he played, my grandmother played and she did Highland Dance, and then my dad played. The band I’m playing with now, they played and practiced at my grandmother’s retirement home. And I was like, ‘Oh, it’s so cool. There’s a bunch of kids playing the bagpipes.’ And so I was like this is actually kind of cool. So I tried it and I really liked it.
Why do you like the bagpipes so much?
I like being different. It’s cool to be different. I don’t know. I’m not really sure what draws me, but it’s funny to see people’s reactions. Because some people hate the bagpipes and some people love the bagpipes. I’ve gotten mostly love, a couple hate. They’re like, “I don’t really like the sound of bagpipes.” I’m like, “Oh, I’m sorry. Still gonna play them.”
Do you have a special spot downtown that you usually play?
I usually switch up the spots. I go like by the food carts or like by Nordstrom, because you can’t play in Pioneer Courthouse Square. I get kicked out a lot.
What’s the most money you’ve made at one time?
That one time on New Year’s Eve, it was like 11 o’clock at night. I made like $130 maybe. And it was like 45 minutes of playing.
Can you tell me about your family?
I’m adopted from Hyderabad, India, which is like south. And my sister is, too, but she’s adopted from the north so we’re not like actual sisters. I have five siblings (total). I have three sisters and two brothers and I’m the youngest. You can just give them a phone call and they’ll help you get through something. They’re best friends for you and they mean the most to me because they’re always gonna love me no matter what.
What is it like being adopted?
I used to do Indian dance and so I think that was culturally, I think it helped me a lot than just like cutting it all off. When I was a kid, they read like Indian myths and tales to me and like books and all this sort of stuff. So I wasn’t like cut off from it and so I think that helped me. We visited India when I was in the sixth grade. I really liked it. We did it during winter break. You got to see a bunch of different, different people and like how they lived compared to how you lived. In other parts, we saw people crawling on the ground with polio who can’t walk, who can’t get up.