I had yet another fascinating weekend playing piano music last week that I would love to tell you about if you give me about 5 mins of your time.
This last weekend I played a series of gigs that reminded how, as an entertainer I get to see all kinds of cool stuff. I get to view the power of
piano music on a daily basis.
Thursday I provided charity event entertainment in the Sears Tower (a.k.a. the Willis Tower, but I’m from Chicago so I still call it the Sears Tower). People came together to raise money for detection and prevention of some very rare disease that tragically took the life of a teen aged boy a few years back. The father of the boy gave a moving speech about the tragedy and the ensuing life saving research that has been come out of his son’s dying wish; to find out what happened to him and to save others’ from contracting his disease. They have raised over $100K to date. And this Fall their findings are going to be published in a major medical journal. They have already saved hundreds of lives.
Oh yeah … there was a sunset that night above the rain clouds I witnessed from the 67th Floor that I will remember forever!
Friday night I played a party for a family celebrating Dad’s and daughter’s birthdays. The young lady was 17 (the same age as our oldest daughter). Her friends we’re all into music and dance and theater and were charming and talented and polite and knowledgable about different genres of music. Of course, we all know what youthful energy looks like. But to see it firsthand from the piano bench on the bandstand is, once again, a reason to keep playing live music.
Instead of just playing solo piano and singing, I had the phenomenal guitarist, Chris Winters, onstage with me that night. Chris and I rambled through a menagerie of popular music ranging from current Pop hits to ancient R&B, Jump Blues, Classic Rock hits back to Ballads and everything in between. The kids knew several American Classic Songwriters like Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael and all the words to Bohemian Rhapsody. They had a choreographed bit they did to Footloose.
The reason I mention all this is in case you were worried about the youth of America these days — don’t! They are in good hands from the music teachers in public schools in the western suburbs.
Saturday afternoon I played at a Moose Lodge. I hadn’t been in one of those in years. I started out many moons ago playing Moose Lodges and VFW Halls. This week I was hired by a gentleman who (let’s see if I can get this right) was “installed as a Pilgrim for the Moose Hearts.” It took 35 years of charitable works to achieve this level. Whew!
I played some background solo piano music and believe me if I had let my false pride get in the way I would have found this gig kind of boring. But as I said earlier I have found the power of music to be truly enlightening.
The crowd was generally older. But there were middle aged men and women there as well. I must have received 30 compliments from the possibly 40 people in attendance. I received applause after numerous songs and medleys throughout the evening. When I play background piano music, I don’t expect applause. That’s the whole point of playing background music. Be in the background
What I’m saying is people appreciate good live music. “It is rare to hear it much these days, except at weddings or funerals”, one lady told me. Our guest of honor told me later, “You filled the void that could not have been filled any other way. Thank you.”
No. Thank you David for all you do for your community.
Later that night I played a “hip and trendy” restaurant gig where the majority of people didn’t even realize I was there through all the lights and glitz.
Then Sunday night I played a house party in the NW burbs, my old stomping grounds. I was invited by the children of a woman celebrating her 70th birthday party. I was a surprise.
Since she is a student of the piano, she was appreciative of what I do on the instrument. I had ’em all singing along and, of course, dancing in the living room. The grand kids joined in including the toddlers. The Cute Quotient was at an all time high that night. But that was not the highlight.
At the beginning of the music hour, young 12 year old Emma sang ‘Desperado’ to her Gramma. She was very talented and a little nervous and she did an excellent rendition! When she finished there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
I could say this was a normal weekend and on some levels I would be right. I get to see these occurrences on a daily basis. Live music is usually celebrated at happy occasions; birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, charity events, etc. You invite me into your homes and to your private family events.
But this weekend had some major evidence presented to me that what we do week in and week out as musicians is important. People need live music, bands, piano music, dueling pianos, jazz trios more than they realize. It doesn’t matter where or when or how.
We all need music. I know I do.
I need to perform. I need to play piano. If I don’t, I don’t feel right.
And so I want to thank everyone of you, especially those of you who called and hired me and the other musicians this week. Thank you. You allow me to do what I was put on the Earth to do. And you make my life fuller by allowing me to come enrich yours.