Denny Rauen is a talented musician and a renown luthier. One night it came up in casual conversation that he played the bagpipes. “Hey, could you bring the pipes to a bridge sometime and play?” That was about ten bridges ago. It is always a thrill to see him punch up the bladder, to hear that first squeak and drone, and then to follow him as he kicks into a haunting plangent rendition of Amazing Grace. Goosebumps every time.
Q: How did you first hear about OLB?
A: I initially came across one of OLB’s videos on YouTube and was really impressed with the strong message and sense of humor. The simple yet oddly placed message says “Look, here’s something you should think about!” and it is hard to ignore. A few weeks later my friend Rob Hansen introduced me to everyone in the group. The rest is history.
Q: What led you to become an activist?
A: When the leadership of the state can get away with convincing so many people that Wisconsin’s financial problems are the result of “incompetent overcompensated teachers” I couldn’t sit on the sidelines. I have two teachers in the family so it’s clear to me that if the rightwing can successfully demonize them, then the middle class and the poor are looking at a very troubled future.
Q: Can you describe a memorable moment from an overpass action?
A: The night of the vote we were over I-43 when a neighborhood rapper and I – with my bagpipes – spontaneously came together and created an incredible piece of music. I don’t think it will ever make the charts but it was a special moment on so many other levels.
note: OLB witnessed this event, and it was weird and wonderful. We’ll never think of either rap – or bagpipe music – in quite the same way! Also, one of our own favorite moments involving Denny was watching him lead the Nuns On The Bus tour off of the bridge, with the Sisters following close behind, and finally Sister Simone saying how fitting Amazing Grace was to the whole evening.