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For the first time in twenty months, I played piano at my old stomping grounds on Saturday night. I was subbing for Mike, who took over for me when I was invited back to the gig a little over a year ago and turned it down. (I even live-streamed a poor quality set on my phone, haha)

The whole evening was an interesting touchstone. I barely recognized anyone who works there now, barely recognized some of the interior of the hotel. So much has changed, within and without. I stopped by to hover for a few moments, as I would often do, in front of the magnificence of the lobby fireplace, which hasn’t changed a bit.

Ah, and there was my old friend, that beautiful Yahama, sitting there in the center of the dining room action (in need of dusting, as ever) – and when I sat down and lifted the fallboard and lightly touched a few notes, I remembered right away what I had missed about this instrument – it’s dynamic range; the feathery-yet-springy action; the rich lows, bell-like mids, and sparkly highs. Even pedalling this piano is soft and easy. It’s a piano that ought to be on a proper concert stage.

From September 2003 until February 2020, this piano was an important vehicle for so much of my creativity and expression. I captured and developed so many riffs and song ideas right there at that bench, cheered on by the occasional listening friend or appreciative stranger, and ignored by so many tourists and hotel guests for so many hundreds of hours on so many nights. The piano itself was a port in a storm located in the eye of another storm.

Though perhaps not the setting, I have certainly missed this instrument very much.

And I’m also happy to have made so many other piano friends in so many places – the Kawai on the stage of Deertrees Theatre; the Steinway concert grand at WFMT in Chicago; the Baldwin at the UU Church of Hinsdale, IL; another Steinway at Dragonfly Barn; my friend Betty’s Chickering in Asheville; that Bosendorfer I got to play in Houston – the list is nearly endless, and I’m so grateful for the life that allows me this luxury!

So, bye for now, Hotel Yamaha, and thank you so much for all the years of inspiration. Maybe we’ll hang out again soon.