You know that wonderful old Steinway grand piano in the drawing room of the Cheekwood mansion? The one with the little sign telling people not to touch it? Well I got the chance to play it for four hours this past weekend, during one of the First Tennessee Fridays they’re having in conjunction with Bruce Munro’s sprawling outdoor art installation, LIGHT.
The guests that passed through to listen were wonderful. I had some great requests, heard a few people singing along, and even got a few couples up and dancing!
The bad news is that LIGHT is in its closing week. The good news that, until the last day on the 10th, Cheekwood is open every night until 11:00pm. Check it out while you still can!
I always enjoy playing weddings. There’s just something about being a part of such a significant moment in people’s lives that makes it more than just a “typical gig” This past weekend I was hired to play piano (sadly, not accordion) for a post-ceremony reception, and it was extra-special for two reasons:
First, it was at the marvelous Hermitage Hotel here in Nashville.
Over a century old, the Hermitage ranks among the great “grand” hotels of the South and is a perfect spot for a wedding. Getting to play a grand piano with a view of that historic, beaux-arts lobby was a real treat.
Second, my wife’s string quartet was providing the ceremony music!
Anne Landis stays booked with weddings pretty solidly these days, whether it’s as part of a quartet, trio, or as a solo wedding violinist. But I don’t get too many chances to see her on the job.
It was sort of like a “take your husband to work” day…
In the mood for some wine, women, and song on Sunday, June 23rd? Come visit the beautiful Amber Falls Winery (that’s the wine part) and enjoy the “world jazz” music of Rose on Vibes (one of the women and all of the song).
I’ll be sitting in on piano. And hopefully also sitting in on some wine tastings between sets. Not a bad way to spend a summer afternoon, eh?
You could be here…
Esquire.com recently featured a wonderful article by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabaar: 20 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was 30.
Among the 20 tidbits of wisdom is this: Play the piano.
I took lessons as a kid but, like a lot of kids, didn’t stick with them. Maybe I felt too much pressure. After all, my father had gone to the Julliard School of Music and regularly jammed with some great jazz musicians. Looking back, I think playing piano would have given me a closer connection with my dad as well as given me another artistic outlet to better express myself.
How many people do you know who have the same regret?
Maybe you’re one of them?
I run into it all the time. People who, upon finding out I’m a musician, tell me that they “used to” take lessons on some instrument or another. Most of the time, they’ll go on to tell me that they wish they had kept up with it.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping anyone from picking it back up, at any age. Kareem was in his mid-fifties when he figured that out:
In 2002, I finally started to play and got pretty good at it. Not good enough that at parties people would chant for me to play “Piano Man,” but good enough that I could read music and feel closer to my dad.
And that, folks, is how a champion handles regret: By doing something about it.
NPR’s article on last month’s passing of the great Van Cliburn retells the story of how the pianist gained his initial fame at 23 by winning the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958.
This was huge.
The Listen page has now been upgraded to feature a snappy “jukebox” style player for some of my piano recordings. (This is another reason why I love SoundCloud. It makes that sort of thing very easy to do.)
And yes, accordion clips are in the works…