Raggin' Piano Boogie

 

 
HIS SPIRIT LIVES ON! ... BONER, THE PIANO DOG ... November 27, 1994 ... February 20, 2010

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August 31, 2006

Pennsylvania

I slithered into my parking spot on the Bristol riverfront. Actually there was a couple smooching while parked in my usual spot. I asked them if I could have it and they said sure and moved their car. It was dark and the water was just...just...just about overflowing the brink. It could not have been more on the edge. Just like I like it, on the edge of life. It is such a great spot. Bo went to jump into the truck. He has been having trouble as of late. It is a high jump and he is now an old man. I went to open the back to make it easier for him but he said no he wanted to go the side route as usual. He barley made it but he did it. I applauded his effort. I want to be just like him as I get older. I could hear the water lapping at my side and sometimes water would run to the wheel of the truck. A boat raced by and created a large swaying mirror of water in the night. I made a commitment to play only for me tonight. I did not feel like developing... stretching my skills... or being interesting... intelligent or smart... or performing for anyone... or needing to think. For the first fifteen minutes, I had to keep reminding myself to relax my ass muscles while I played. I had a very stressful day and I tend to tighten up with my musical emotions, which is not good. I wanted to let my music out... not internalize it. I closed my eyes and breathed deep as I played. It was fun. I even brushed up on some of my Ragtime and Boogie Woogie. I did what ever I wanted to do.

August 30, 2006

Pennsylvania

Today Boner and I took a little trip to the Roxborough section of Philadelphia and ended up at the back end of Gorgas park. We were just driving around exploring and came to a spot where there was a group of about twenty neighbors hanging out with their dogs. So, we drove up onto the grassy field and parked not too far but not so close that the truck was intrusive on the area. I wanted to improvise while I watched the dogs at play. Bo enjoyed being king of the hill on top of the piano. He especially enjoyed the fact that no dog could each him. A friend took some pictures and curious people came up to the truck so I did not get much playing in. A couple came down from the gazebo up on the hill to tell us how much they enjoyed watching Bo hold sentry over the piano and enjoyed listening to my music while they smoked their cigar.

August 29, 2006

Pennsylvania

Can you believe it? It rained today. It has not rained in months to stop me from going outside. I could now actually, but I want to have another go at the new hookup I created in my house today. I was able to connect the keyboard to five big speakers all throughout the house. I was improvising and it was so good the glass was quivering on the shelves. Did I say good? I meant good and LOUD! I heard the music with much more ability to create nuances inside the house but it had to be real loud. What to do, what to do. The sound is also a completely different experience when I use headsets, on a real piano also. I must create music to the best of my ability. I need to find a way to present the sound of what I am capable of in order to develop, outdoors.

August 28, 2006

Pennsylvania

I went down to the Delaware River Access area today. Nothing special except that I played some at home before I went out. I am jonsin' for more time to develop my piano craft and skills. I need a business manager to take over some of my work. While I was hitting the keys, I noticed a guy playing guitar in the distance. We had met a few weeks before in this spot and I inspired him to bring out his guitar. Sounds good to me. Another guy walking his dog stopped to suggest that I put a tip jar on the piano. I asked him how much he would put in it if I did. That got him, "oh, nobody around here has anything to put in." It is a little irritating to have the need to act and look like I have money to make money. Many people seem to need some sort of marketing to create an illusion to decipher whether music is good enough to pay for. I do not seem to have much worth in kaki cutoffs and a tea shirt. Put a shirt and tie on and it is a whole different story. Well for me right now, "it is what it is".

August 27, 2006

Pennsylvania

Ha ha ha ha ha... It rained for the 1st Traveling Piano Jam today. We played in the rain! Who cares what happened to the piano! It was not pouring so we all dealt with the steady raindrops. Now we can all say not only have we played the piano outdoors but we did it in the rain! The first four piano players... to the left, the famous Ragtime Piano man Don Kawash... bottom up, rock and roll Piano guy Tyler Howgate, followed by You Know Who... along with the improvisational hobbyist piano man Wes Powers and of course Piano Dog, Boner. I never had a doubt in my mind that this jam was going to happen. I was prepared to do it in my garage if necessary even though there is no room to stand in there. We are going to do it again and I hope others will join. The music was of a New Age type improvisational, a few renditions of Fur Elise, rock group Toto's Hold the Line, classically Don played The Banjo, and we had some Boogie Woogie. As soon as we stopped, the rain started, steady.

August 26, 2006

Pennsylvania

I left my house with storm clouds so dark and low it looked like it was going to pour rain every second. As I drove I thought, "thank God it will be dark soon because I would rather not see it coming if it does rain. I was heading for the Somers Point NJ Harbor Festival, my fourth or fifth return engagement. When I arrived, I felt good about the change of scenery in being at the shore. I wish I had a place down there to stay. As I began to perform, it started to sprinkle rain and then stopped after about three minutes. It started to rain again for about three minutes immediately after I finished. I was lucky. This crowd has always been a party crowd. I drove and stopped at different parties that were going on and at the central walkway intersections. It was interesting to watch people appear from every direction when I started to improvise and even more interesting to watch them settle into the music. I think I got more attention and more of a response from the original music than from the Boogie or Ragtime tonight. It was difficult for me to try and keep my mouth shut when someone asked about what has been going on musically for me. I must get a grip on giving short soundbites with what I have to say. I learned today that while I have been counting the unique hits to my website everyday, tallying up the numbers since I started publishing in December, the 3,400 hits to date was wrong. The actually number with the average person staying on the website for five minutes at a time is more like 34,000 with over 1,600 pages hits per day. Yikes! After the job, Bo and I went house hunting through the different parties that were going on. Everyone invited us into their houses, Bo especially, to have some food and drink. The name "Boner" was very popular tonight used almost constantly in everyway imaginable. On the way home I sat on the Atlantic City expressway for more than an hour due to an accident. As I moved along at no more than two miles an hour, I wished that I had someone with me to drive as I performed on the back of the truck. It would have made for a terrific distraction for all.

August 25, 2006

Pennsylvania

Just got back from playing my 4th paid improvisational performance. I will stop counting at five. It is so amazing to me. If anyone would have asked whether I thought I would ever be creating my own music fifteen months ago I would have said, "can't do it, tried a little, just can't do it." If I was asked whether I ever thought I would be getting paid to perform my own music I would have laughed one hundred percent of that idea off into the spirit world. Well, not only did I get paid but also, it was my going rate which is nothing to sneeze at. So much more importantly, I loved doing my job and everyone loved what I had to offer. I played from 7pm until sunset. It was in the Ceaderbrook area on the Woods Campus in Langhorne PA. This is a high-end community with people who have issues physically and with how their mind works. I realize we all have issues they are just more acute for these people. This was not the first time for Boner with this crowd. He loves everyone and lets him or her handle him in ways that he would never put up with from other types of audiences. He amazes me. Usually when people are jerky in movement towards Boner, he flinches or gets up and moves to the other side of the piano. Not with these friends. They reach around to Bo's hind legs to pet him and he just moves in closer to make it easier for them. I am not kidding. One of the guys came up to me while playing and said, I am turning 80 years old in 2007 and I want you here for my birthday. Another guy came up and pulled out a harmonica. We kept a decent rhythm together. God, that was fun. Some guy in his 30's came up from behind and gave me a slap on the back while I was playing, saying, "man your great." I kept playing while the kids around 15 to 18 years of age left to walk home. As I would finish a piece of music, I could hear them in the distance screaming a clapping for me. As I drove off I heard them talking to each other, "man he is awesome". What is truly awesome is what I am feeling. To experience the level of humility and gratitude that I have grown into... I cherish more than anything else I have ever known.

August 24, 2006

Pennsylvania

I needed to go to the mall today and I decided to take my piano with me. I ended up on the King of Prussia Mall parking garage roof. There was no one there so it felt safe. There were two super sized crows and a bunch of seagulls nearby. They did not want Bo around and protested loudly. The crows each had their own pillar to stand on and all the other birds were stuck together on another pillar. A woman drove by and stopped so I asked her to video some. My camera batteries died so I could not get pictures. The hotel was to my left, Bally's behind me, the main part of the mall roof was to my right and behind was also parking and highway. I was very conscious of the movement down below with traffic whizzing all around. I must have been a site to behold for the people looking out of Bally's Fitness while running on the treadmills. My ears were burning with, "do you see what I see way up there across the street on the roof of the mall?" Well a cop did see me from below and came racing to the scene. He looks at me as says, "you can't do this". I said, "what?" He said, "this whole dog, piano truck thing". I said why not, there is no one here, I am not bothering anything and I am breaking no law." He says, "someone might complain". I repeated, "there is no one here to complain, if someone does I will leave." He talks to his dispatcher and then says, "you have to shop in the mall to park here." I said, "my wife is inside shopping and I told here I would wait here for her." I lied. I am confessing my sin right now, I am sorry for this lie. Anyway, after I said the lie I pretended that the policeman went away. I looked down at the piano and started to play again. He went away. I was there for about an hour. It was very cool to be up in the air and around all the huge rooftops of the mall and corporations that surrounded us. I thought, "maybe someday I will get to play while parachuting down to earth.

August 23, 2006

Pennsylvania

Ballsy. That it how I needed to feel to have the nerve and gumption to drive into my local Lion's Park today. I climbed onto the back of opportunity as in I knew my neighbors were there so I thought I would get them to video Boner and me for an upload to youtube.com. My friend was there so I asked her to film for me. We were in the spot and I said, "come on I need to do it before I think too much and the energy is still with me". I was nervous about being in the park because the people who built it did not think I was worth the money to perform at the opening. My friend snapped like a viperous snake and said shut up and wait, you are so self-centered, that is why you are alone. She was sick but still... Ouch! Talk about hitting below the belt. I thought, "were you threatened that way as a child also?" Then I thought, "I am anything but alone." Whew! Glad I got past that stage of life. Had she said that over a year ago I would have crumbled. I asked a guy standing nearby to take the video for me and he did. What I need to put up with concerning life long relationships in order to keep them can be a real pain in the ass. Once I processed that bad energy out of my system I got the nerve to back the truck in near where the kids played. There were allot of them and from many different ethnic backgrounds. After about ten minutes I said to myself, "what are you doing, turn the friggin' truck around so you can watch the kids play." I did. It is funny how I need to ease into a situation. At first, I was too afraid to face everyone. Most everybody acted as though my being there was a most natural, routine experience for them. Every few minutes a youngster would run up and give me a big smile and say hi to Bo. The feeling was surreal playing the piano outside on my truck, in my neighborhood, watching the cars go by on the road I travel on everyday. A guy named Paul jumped up to tinkle some, he used to play when he was a kid. His daughter jumped in and sat beside him. I left them and went to sit on a park bench to watch for about ten minutes. This guy would have stayed just to mess around with musical notes the whole night if he could. He was a happy pup. He got the idea of what I am doing and had a great experience. Bo sat on top of the piano looking at me like, "how come you can leave and I can't".

August 22, 2006

Pennsylvania

Music to my ears! I had the speakers up so loud that is about all my ears could hear. I was in the local high school parking lot and I was meandering over five Dorian scales. (see last night if you do not know what I am talking about) It seemed strange to be thinking intellectually about the piano keys. I liked it. This was the first cool night I can remember playing in. It was almost crisp but not quite. I think the barometer level affected the sound nicely. There were a few rendezvous in the area between cars. One of them ran when they saw me coming with the truck. I think they were being naughty. The hand area where I crushed my fifth metacarpal some years back hurt last night and all day today and I was getting a bit paranoid. When I played all the pain disappeared and I felt as strong as ever with my technical abilities. Thank God. My ears were sharp tonight also.

August 21, 2006

Pennsylvania

Fran from last night joined me today at my new favorite spot on the Delaware River and we decided to have the first, "Traveling Piano Jam" for this coming Sunday at 7pm. It will be behind the huge Lenox Building off Radcliff street at the north end of Bristol Borough on the river. You cannot miss the building and you cannot miss us if you drive to the back because there will be nothing else there on the river bank in a big wide open area, only the Raggin Piano Boogie truck. We both agreed to bring one person each and we will play with eight-minute stretches and continuously switch off until the last man or woman is sitting. As I played today, I was surprised to see a guy kayaking on the river when I looked up. My piano keys fell victim to a "fly by" bird dropping from the sky. We shot some video for YouTube.com. Fran showed me the Dorian mode on the piano. He told me how to play the scale. When he left, I started to get lost in the playing of it. I had to stop after about fifteen minutes because I got scared of what I was doing. He gave me the one idea and I had to say stop because I would have become overwhelmed with anything else. Lets see here if I can remember, the scale goes in steps... whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half-whole ... a half step is from one key to the next, a whole step is two half steps up or down on the keyboard. The scale can start from any note. It gave me something musically interesting to think about while I improvised instead of having my mind just wonder on about life. I think is where an opportunity for some musical discipline enters the picture. A simple way to use and develop my mind. Hmmm... yes I still have that desire.

August 20, 2006

Pennsylvania

I just had a most amazing experience. I drove to the riverfront to play but there was a Sunday concert happening so I drove on to the new spot in the middle of nowhere that I found the day before yesterday. I was having a good old time messing up as bad as I could on the piano as no one was around and out of no where appears jazz pianist, Fran Danis, yes the one and only. He said, "what are you doing here on my turf?" In the almost twenty years I have performed with Raggin' Piano Boogie only two other pianists have performed with me on the truck. One was a Boogie Woogie guy from Vienna, Austria and the other was Fran Danis from Bristol, PA. This was just too strange and funny. I had not seen him since 1998 and here he was jogging along the river. So, we got reacquainted and started talking about a piano jam. He is a great player and he jumped on the truck to play some. I was in heaven. Then he said, "have you ever heard of the website YouTube?" I said, "Oh my God, a friend sent me a link to it just yesterday and I thought it was important enough to download one of the videos from the website last night and I have just been thinking about making one from this spot while I was playing. We set up a time and he is going to film me for it tomorrow. Cheezzz. As he left, I was kicking myself that I was just messing around when he heard me earlier. Of course, I love to impress. So much for "it is what it is". After Fran left there was one guy parked in the area sitting on the back bed of his truck. It was dark. I felt like I needed to play some more to discharge the thrill from moments before. After a few minutes, he lay down on his truck bed and I thought, "he is totally soaking in this scene". When I stopped, he yelled over, "your not done are ya?" I went over to say hi and it turns out this guy, Jack and I have an incredible amount of commonality in our lives, way to deep to go into with this forum. Suffice to say it was an even bigger event than Fran turning up beside the truck. Jack had a musical concert of his very own on a breezy, warm and clear summer night by the water and it was just the two of us sharing in all the spirituality flowing around. When I went to leave I was alone. I started the truck and it began to accelerate out of control and then came to a stall with clicking sounds. The carburetor. I thought, "this might get interesting." I shot up a short prayer and carefully turned the key to give the truck a start. I sputtered the way home and made it into the garage. Tomorrow is another day.

August 19, 2006

Pennsylvania

Today I went to get a free dinner over a friend's house so I took the truck along to give some free music. Don and Peggy have been friends of mine since high school in fact Don was my music teacher in high school! I pulled into the park in front of their house and soon a gaggle of neighbors appeared. There were some nasty sounding neighbors setting up to eat behind me, they were complaining about the mulberries lying on the ground, on the chairs etc... when I turned around after about five minutes they were gone. I will assume it was the fault of the mulberries. One of the neighbors came over to me and said, "you know the ragtime you play is just not my cup of tea, it is this music that brought me out of the house as it is so beautiful to hear." Then the rain started and I threw the cover over the truck and got ready to head for home.

August 18, 2006

Pennsylvania

Wow, new spot... good spot... great spot! I was heading for the Bristol Riverfront I wanted to try it during the day. It is Friday night. Lots of people were hanging around the nearby theatre and restaurant and I looked like a slob. No way was I going to stop, I just kept driving on. I drove along Radcliff street. It runs along the river but there were no access areas. At the end of the street, I found a huge, what used to be industrial building being turned into offices with an even more huge back parking lot walking area along the water. I am talking spacious here. I drove right up onto the grass and was able to use the speakers full blast. I don't know if it was the wind blowing in my face, the openness of the area with land and water or the energy drink I had before I left the house; I was flying strong with the music. Whatever I played, I meant it. People would come by and they were completely blown away from the visual and sound. One woman said she heard me over by the office buildings (which were about a quarter mile away) and she could not believe what she heard and saw. It was fun! Fun! I watched flocks of birds starting their migration up the river. Countless motorboats on the river were trying to figure me out and I watched a football field size barge float by. I played until it got dark. Except for the night parking lot lights this would be a perfect spot for in the middle of the night. I love natural settings.

August 17, 2006

Pennsylvania

I found an area along the Delaware River in Lower Makefield PA. I drove right up to the rivers edge and landed on a ridge over looking the water held together by sand a tree root. If you were able to push the truck any, it would have slid right into the river. Boner and I were in the shade under tall locust trees with a cool breeze and no humidity on this warm sunny summer afternoon. The water was shimmering. Some nice folk, a family enjoying water rides on their jet ski came over to say hello to Bo and take some pictures for me. While I was playing the locusts above turned on. I have never heard the pulsing of their rhythm as strong as it was today. They must be at the height of their breeding season or something. The sound would build and build and build to a loud climax and then they would snap like a wind up toy unraveling. The experience was so intense it surpassed my sense of sound and began to taste sweet in my mind. Cars started to pull into the parking lot to check me out and it felt like a drive in movie parking lot filling up for the show. Towards the end, three guys jump into the river directly in front of me. They were like little kids splashing in the water to the music, a bunch of Mexicans having fun.

August 16, 2006

Pennsylvania

I finally found my way onto West Philadelphia today. I have wanted to play there for some time. I had no particular reason. I arrived at Clark Park, drove into the center, set up and began to play. My first encounter was a guy who rode up to me on his bike to ask for some money and after that he tried and sell me a gold chain. I said, "no thanks." I am a silver type of guy. West Philly has a style of it own. It is an old and mature neighborhood. The park was culturally and ethnically diverse today and it felt like everyone sharing the park space appreciated the mix. I certainly did. I choose the sitting area instead of the playground area because there would have been allot of screaming kids around the truck and little opportunity to create music. A guy sat near me and I felt as through I had a Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes backup the entire time I played. Low, sensual, male musical breathing... sighing... feeling type responses. Several people came up to tell me they really liked what I was doing and mom's lifted their children out of their baby carriages to pet Boner. A couple guys came up right next to me again today and sat down while pulling out their game board to begin a game of chess while I played music. Cool, huh? I would have stayed but I was afraid by battery would die and the truck would get stuck in the park. I do not think I would want to be stuck with no way out of the park after dark.

August 15, 2006

Pennsylvania

Every time without fail that I face my fears it works out better than anything I could have imagined. This fact never makes life easier and it is always difficult whether the fear is large or small. Today, little panic attack feelings of rejection and bad consequences were hitting me. This happens every once in a while and it is most interesting when I push forward and go out to perform anyway. Damm, where's my camera when I need it, I forgot to take it with me. I went to the Bristol Riverfront parking lot a spot I found about a month ago right on the waters edge of the Delaware River in PA. I choose this spot tonight because it was so peaceful and I did not think anyone would be there just like last time. When I arrived no one was there but then a car drove in and a guy and girl got out to set up their fishing rods and chairs... right behind me! Yikes... like ten feet away from the speaker. I thought, "oh shit". Then another guy pulled in on the other side and setup the same distance on my other side. I thought, "oh shit". Then the second guy's buddy pulled up and set his chair like a foot from the right front side of the truck and I thought, "oh, shit". They all just sat there fishing and listening to the music. I hope I get over my insecurity of people specifically listening to ME soon. I just got an idea. I must realize that when I am thinking with insecurity I am self-absorbed. When I am like this I am forgetting what is going on. It is not about ME, it is about the MUSIC. Yea, I need to pound that into my pysche. These four fisherman all in their twenties, loved my music. They kept telling me that. "It's really great, awesome." The guy sitting in front of me said, "I thought this spot was the most relaxing experience I could have, listening to you play, who knew it could get better", and they all chimed in agreement. This was very cool for me. While I was playing, I saw him sitting there with his eyes closed totally soaking in the music and I had such a hard time accepting that fact. I want to remember, "it is all about the music, not the performer or the listener, it is about the music". I want to learn to respond to that with humility. The one guy played drums and said, "the only thing I can play on the piano is, doe a deer". I said to come up and play it. His friend said, "you don't want that, your piano keys will smell like fish bait." I played while a tugboat went by. There were a few motorboats in the dark. Something big jumped out of the water and back in before anyone else arrived it even startled Boner. I started to think, "horror movie, monster in the water." I liked playing to the sounds of the fishing rods being cast and hitting the water and also when they were reeling it in, especially with a catfish on the hook. I told them to call me to bring me back, I hope they do. Their good company felt safe and secure even through my own insecurities.

August 14, 2006

Pennsylvania

Nothing can brighten my day like a little piano playing in the park and it is even better when I make some new friends while doing it. I wish I could remember names. I was once a "society pianist" and I had to give up that type of work because my career was going down the tubes, I could never remember the names of the people who hired me! I drove the truck today into Core Creek County Park in PA right next to the pavilion where I played once before. I interrupted a romancing couple but they did not mind, in fact they took pictures for me. The guy, (I forget his name) recognized me immediately from parade performances through the years. The locust sounds in the trees were wonderful. I watched the great blue herons glide over the lake along with canadian geese. The sun's yellowish hue created an incredible lush green visual on the park greenery. A group of bike racers stopped by. I told them I was on the lookout for new friends, Erin and her mother, who were trying to find me. They said they would keep an eye out for me as they raced around the park. Sue, Erin's mom and I connected on the internet today and we all made plans to come to the park and play some piano. When they found me Erin climbed on board the truck and at fifteen years of age she could bounce a Boogie Beat as good as eighty three year old Dolores from Mississippi who played on the truck a few months ago. They both seemed to have more bounce than I. Erin's sister Chelsea was a mighty fine pianist herself. Erin said my improvisation is the same as what they use on the Sim computer games. Hmmm... I need to check that out. Two turkey vultures tried to keep us from leaving the park. Bo was hanging his head out the truck window within a foot of them being sure to keep his tongue in his mouth because these birds were fearless and aggressive. They started to follow us out of the park two inches from the side of the truck. This was the first time I went out to play in daylight and did not get back until after dark. Fun day/night.


August 13, 2006

Pennsylvania

My mind is all over the place today. It was such a beautiful day I had to drive to Tyler State park for the sunset on the hill. I parked between two sets of lovers, one on each side. They were laying on blankets doing what lovers do in the park, in the grass, at sunset, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It felt good to make their romances even romancier. I tried not to look at them too much; I just created some love for myself. Several cars stopped and people got out to listen for a while. I can go for thirty minutes and then my head says nothing. I think I will experiment with that 30 minutes tomorrow and make it three distinct 10 minute improvs. I came home to find two emails; one said my music is, "expressions of a beautiful soul." Ahh... the other, "your amazing I hope you get your dream." I am truly in my wildest dream and so is everyone who shares in my experience.

August 12, 2006

Pennsylvania

Today started with my performing some Ragtime and Boogie Woogie piano next to a corn field in front of the Delaware Valley College Farm market for their Peach Pickin' Festival. It felt wonderful to watch Boner jump into the truck and onto the piano although I think he might need an umbrella for future sunny days in the hot sun. Someone said, "you are amazing. i really hope you get your dream."

Afterwards we traveled a little bit north to play piano music improvisationally, in the country, in the backyard for Erica and Jason's engagement party. We sat under the "something" tree while I played and a couple guys where playing horseshoes next to us. Bo had a nice sized hunk of the roasted pig form the table. I am getting used to the idea that the performing of my improvisational music works! It does and also, it is enough. It's music. People like to hear things they recognize but more importantly, they want to just enjoy music. We stayed for a while ate and socialized.

August 11, 2006

Pennsylvania

I just had a most amazing experience. I drove into an industrial park near my house and parked in the middle of a gigantic empty black asphalt parking lot behind a distribution center. It was the equivalent of being in the middle of a huge grassy field but with no natural ambience. I was very happy to see Bo jump into the truck and then up onto the piano although he needed a little help. He was very ill the last two days. As I performed a nest of nats came by and started to swirl off to the right of the piano. I got off the truck to spray some bug repellant around me. They stayed the same distance, opposite Bo, close but not in my face. After about ten minutes, I started to study the chaos of their movements. They reminded me of neutron chemicals or some kind of visual that I have seen of chemicals moving. They stayed in the same spot in a ball like form. Then I wondered if I could affect their movement. Without trying I started to notice that when I hit bass notes that created a response from them. I started to explore. I was fixated on these tiny guys for a good twenty minutes. They would go from being centered in a ball to stretching out to a length of about three feet and then back into the ball. It reminded me of watching listen to music while watching the sound visuals on my computer screen. They jumped according to the strength of my attack on the piano keys. The harder the attack on the keyboard the faster they jumped. The bigger, louder or deeper the sound the wider they jumped always going back into the ball. The pitch did not seem to affect them. Where they jumped was random. I swear to God I am not making this up, I said to myself, "ok you guys, I gotta stop I'll see you later." I stopped and they all left.

August 10, 2006

New Jersey

I woke up through my subconscious this morning. I had not set the alarm clock correctly. I woke with just enough time to realize that I may miss my performance. I throw on a shirt and tie for the race to the Ocean City New Jersey Boardwalk for their annual Baby Parade. This is my eighteenth year performing for this parade. Before I leave the house, I give Boner a cup of water and hopefully his body will process it. If he throws it up that will be a sign that he is seriously ill. We spent the night at the veterinary hospital emergency room because of a possible failing kidney. Bo drank his water, we raced outside to the truck and Bo throws up the water on the driveway. We get to the boardwalk and I have no driver. The parade was starting in two minutes. Bo stays in the cab, for the first time ever he is not on the top of the piano. While I am asking random people if they can drive a stick shift people are asking where Boner is. I start to cry every time someone mentions his name so I run back to the truck to get my sunglasses. A kind soul, Charlie Miller from Gaithersburg, MD tells me he will drive. He lost a dog like Bo six years ago and I could see I was bringing up some emotions for him. Thank God for this guy. I did the parade with people screaming, "Where's Bo?" I thought, "Danny, thank God you have this routine down pat with no water in you, coffee to get you going, nourishment for energy, having rolled out of bed into the two hour race to get here and dealing with Bo not in front of me for the first time, not knowing if he is dying or not." More about Boner's ordeal is written on the Boner and me link. On the way home I am riding along the river seeing storm clouds across the way. I say to myself, "they are South you can beat it because it is clear up North where you are heading." As I start the incline onto the Ben Franklin bridge a sudden fog overcomes the truck and a sudden torrential downpour begins at exactly half way across the bridge. I cut off to the side as soon as I am off the bridge span to throw the cover over the soaked piano and equipment. It is not until the truck is covered and secure and I am completely soaked, dripping wet that the rain stops and the sun comes out.

August 9, 2006

Pennsylvania

Today I performed my improvisation in a concert setting for the second time although it was not a situation where I needed to command attention. It was very relaxing, a hangout environment, which is best for what, I do. It was at the Holland Vocational Training Center on the Woods Services Campus in PA. I feel a special connection with these people and have performed for them in the past. It was a gratifying performance because I felt safe. Everyone was enjoying the music for the sake of music. They were not looking for a specific type or style of music so in not having any expectations from them I really enjoyed the connections. I am learning to negotiate my performance. I threw in some Boogie and Ragtime not to fall back on, but to create a level for me to jump off into my improvisation when its energy started to fade. I was able to use the Boogie and Ragtime as a tool to learn during performance and not as a crutch to fall back on.

August 8, 2006

Pennsylvania

I had an appointment in Valley Forge, PA today so I took advantage of the opportunity to play in the National Park. There were not many parking areas that accessed a view I felt good about, so I just drove out into a field and hoped no one would come to chase me away. I got lucky. The environment was as majestic as it gets in full sun with rolling hills. I got into a left hand octave, chord like trance with melody in the right hand both hands spanning the length of the piano. I enjoyed the visual inspiration especially when a big orange monarch butterfly would spend a minute or two flying around the truck.

August 7, 2006

Pennsylvania

I needed to keep it low key today. I went into the bushes near my house out of sight, out of sound. I randomly hit musical notes for quite sometime. I am used to creating music while allowing my mind to wonder. I like that but... it will not always work for performance purposes. (see yesterday) It will take practice and work to stay immersed in musical intent over a longer period of time than I have been used to. I have had short periods of being totally immersed in the music but never for more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time. I usually ... create with focus ... then create while thinking about whatever pops in my mind ... create with focus ... then create while in discussion with someone ... create with focus ... then create while listening to sounds around me ... and so on.

August 6, 2006

New Jersey

Today I was booked to perform two hours of my ambient music in a park. As I drove in the driveway I saw that clearly was not going to happen as there were a couple hundred people setting up their lawn chairs for a concert on the parking lot edge, in the shade. They were there to hear my Ragtime and Boogie Woogie music that is what was advertised. Ninety percent of the crowd was older and nothing was going to make them move from their spots in the shade. So much for an evening of ambient music in the middle of the park. I felt that I needed to give them what they wanted so I blew through an hour of heavy duty performance and then told them, (warned them) that I was just going to play some improvisation for the second hour and that it was going to be mighty low key. I was hoping they would get up and walk around or leave. Ha, Ha, Ha the joke was on me they did not leave. So here I am for the first time improvising in concert for a seated audience who had been blown away from my high-energy non-ambient music a few minutes before. It was not possible to bring my improvising up to the energy level of the previous set. I was amazed that they were pleased and I played for about a half hour. After that, I found myself musically with nothing more to say. They just sat there letting me know that they were content. I went stir crazy and dumbfounded. They were so patient. They were kind. About half left and the other half stayed until the end. I started to joke with my anxiety trying to stretch the time out. "How much more time do I need to play." "Ok I'm going to play some more, tell me when eight minutes are up." God I can be pathetic. Ha,Ha, Ha. Ya gotta start somewhere eh? They were all troupers. For the last five minutes, I called the entire crowd over to the truck and they all did my daily Oprah Wildest Dream video with me while the police taped it.

August 8, 2006

New Jersey

I was way beyond tired tonight but needed to play and several friends wanted to listen to me. It was close to midnight. I pulled to the end of a residential block in Laurel Springs, NJ. I was trying my best to tell three carloads of people to turn off their headlights and not make a peep or any movement so no one in the neighborhood would wake up... and call the police. I was very reserved in my playing and tried to relax with simplicity. The coffee I just drank was kicking in. I feel incredibly grateful for my ability to connect with music even if it is only for moments at a time. I can now experience music completely with no outside influence even though I am aware of everything around me. As I was playing the adults were all on one side of the truck and the kids were on the other side. All but one of the kids went home after I finished my first improvisation which was about ten minutes. A girl named Emily stayed. She never moved from her spot the entire time I played. She stood frozen. Emily is nine years old. I was completely aware of her short dark silhouette standing beside me through the music the entire time I played. Emily was one hundred percent attentive to the music. She gave herself completely to the music. I was familiar with our connection. As her mother said later, she felt me. What she felt was the music and we were connected through it. She stood there never moving the entire time I played and even when I was not playing, she stood still and in simple awe. Afterwards she said that I was the most wonderful piano player that she had ever heard and then she asked me for my autograph. This experience with Emily was a significant for me. As I wrote in detail in my Wildest Dream Story, I was Emily one year ago listening to musician Pat Methany in concert. Emily was having a total experience... with music... through me. The difference between one year ago and tonight is that this time I was the musician and Emily was the listener. It was all about the music. That phrase, "it is all about the music" was in my head intellectually all my life. Now it is in my gut. It is my heart and soul.

August 4, 2006

Pennsylvania

Beechwood Cemetery is a few miles from my house near Penndel PA and that is where I ended up today. I was in the back end on the top of a hill surrounded by tall green trees. A plane flew overhead in the direction of the swirling cirrus clouds. It was a beautiful dusk and this new environment with the passing of the heat wave gave a feeling of freshness. A falcon flew over us. A flock of Canadian geese crossed from the side in perfect formation over the treetops. I need to start pacing myself with energy because when I am finished performing I am exhausted. I have my first paid improvisational booking in Hamilton NJ on Sunday at Sayan Park. It will be a two-hour gig and I do not think I ever improvised for two hours non-stop. I have started to think about the job but I just do not know what to think! A couple stopped nearby to visit a fresh grave and I just went into a musical focus. The thought that came into mind to give… to the situation was to be consistent. I was. The couple smiled and waved as they drove off into the sunset. I let Bo off the truck to run around but surprisingly enough he just laid down by the side of the truck while I played.

August 3, 2006

Pennsylvania

The news was on the television. It was more, more, more about the heat wave. In a space of two minutes the weather guy said there was no end in sight, there would be relief tonight and then once again there was no end in sight. I thought, "Do I want to listen to this crap that nurtures a fearful world, a hysterical world?" I turned it off. I went to find a spot to play. I end up in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia at Richmond Street and Leigh Avenue. I wanted a shady spot for Bo so we parked in an empty lot underneath the steel and cement of route 95 above. This was a great spot! It was as cool as in my air-conditioned house and there was a wonderful breeze. The highway traffic roared above. Across the street, there were guys from the city sanitation department hanging out. They could only see me from the front so it was not obvious that I was playing the piano. It took ten minutes for one of them to check me out by walking across the street. He acted like he was looking for a place to piss. He was not going to look at me so I asked him if he could hear the music over there and he said, "yea." He must have been a guy in his thirties that got used to wearing his pants in the "pants half off the ass style" when he was younger. Well, he is still in that style and seeing his shirtless sweaty ass crack was not a sight to behold as he returned back to his crew. It took forty-five minutes for the penndot crew to check me out. One of them had seen me perform in "Night in Venice" in Ocean City last week so they came up to use that as a conversation starter. There were about fifteen work guys all hanging together sitting in a straight line as I left and I gave them a manly nod of acknowledgment as I was turning the corner. Immediately and without hesitation, they all gave a strong nod back in acknowledgment, in unison. It was a great visual and really felt cool!

August 2, 2006

New Jersey

I am not into... "oh the drama, oh the suffering", when it comes to extreme weather and a performance... especially if I am going to get paid to play. I say, "Come on, Bring it on!" I love to rise to a weather related challenge. So off Boner and I headed to the Ocean City NJ boardwalk to perform at 12:30PM in 100 degrees of direct sunlight for the Annual Miss Crustacean Hermit Crab Beauty Contest. (don't ask) The truck is loaded with two chests of ice with water, my vitamins, 2 bananas a nutrition bar and coffee. Bo is laying with a warm 60 mile an hour wind on his neck from the back window as we drive down the Atlantic City expressway. I am grateful I shaved him about three weeks ago so he has a good undercoat of hair protecting him but not too much. I have two beach umbrellas in the back of the truck to prop over the piano to give Bo shade and a battery operated fan for him just in case there is no ocean breeze. I reminded him to drink water every half hour on the way. For me, it is difficult to be hot when you are constantly sucking on an ice cube. I knew it would probably be a record breaker day when my super gulp sized plastic cup full of ice completely melted before I was half way to my destination. I was prepared to be strong and I hydrated myself the entire way down.

When we arrived at the base of the Ocean City drawbridge that was closing... it broke. I was the second car in line at the barricade. The kids in front of me jumped out of their car and started playing frisbee on the bridge while I sat for fifteen minutes wondering whether I should turn around or go another route. It was getting late. At the fifteen-minute mark, I did turn around and drove to the Longport bridge. I raced the truck into Ocean City and onto the boardwalk to my performance spot. Nobody was there. I thought, "those wusses have really caved into the media heat hysteria. It's summer for Christ's sake! It hits a hundred every summer." A small sign on the fence said that everyone was at the music pier. Boy, was that disappointing. I wanted to test my stamina and my manly endurance. I wanted to break my record of playing in heat, which was 102 degrees for a town sidewalk sale on Route 611 in Pennsylvania back in the late 90's. I raced to the music pier and played the grand piano on the stage. Yuk. I watched out the windows at thousands of beach umbrellas and thousands of people who were in the water. I thought, "probably everyone of them will pee in that water at least once today". Boner sat on the piano as two incredibly big at least 5" span dragonflies hovered above us for about five minutes. That was dream like for me. They flew so fast it was difficult for my eyes to track their movements.

During the performance, Boner had to go to the bathroom. He gives me a certain look and his hind legs start to quiver. I think the dragonflies did it because he has had a life long phobia about black flies ever since one bite him as a young pup. I took him off the piano to go outside along the pier. He kept running back and forth the full length of the pier like a maniac. I said Bo you need to do it here, but he just could not. He also knew we were in a rush as it was in the middle of the performance. I finally said OK go to what you need to do. I did not know what that would entail but I knew the boardwalk was involved. This fantastic dog of mine ran to the boardwalk to find steps down to the sand where he could go to get under the boards to take a shit because he can pee in public but he cannot pookie in public. He found a spot where only I could see him and he could see me and I saw him having difficulty but trying the best that he could. He did his business and wasted no time running back to the beach, up the stairs, onto the boardwalk with everyone around him, through the crowd, back to me, inside and went to jump back up to the piano on the stage. Isn't that a wonderful story?

August 1, 2006

Pennsylvania

The plan was that I had an appointment in Center City Philadelphia so I would take the truck with me and go find a place in West Philly before it got dark to play, as I have not been out there yet. I was turning the corner of Rittenhouse Square and there were police officers. I spontaneously asked one of them if I could go into the park and play. I told them that the night officer allowed me to do it before, I would be very non-intrusive and I would leave right away if anyone complained. He said go ahead. I thought, "shit Dan, you have been taught as your foundation in life not to ask for anything and to be happy with what was given you. Here you are asking. Such an easy thing to do yet it has been so difficult. You have come a long way." So, I drove into the park for the first time to play in daylight. People did not know how to take me. Instead of standing on the cement plaza, they would go behind the bushes to watch. When I tried to convey that I was approachable, someone came up to talk. The only problem was that she was from Leningrad, that word I understood. She had no problem with a one-way conversation for about ten minutes. A guy came over to say, "you don't dress like this when you're getting paid do you? I thought that was really funny, especially because he was serious. Two "old biddies" stopped to glare at bo and me from behind the truck; they were definitely looking for trouble. I started to play cocktail music like sounds and that mellowed them out enough to leave in a huff. I especially appreciate when people who live in the park coming up to me afterwards to say, "I really liked that, thanks allot". Mostly everyone kept to themselves; it is in the low nineties at sunset with no breeze. Most everyone is zoned out. One older guy stuck around and finally came over to say, "do you ever play strange sounds". So, I started to really mess up and play randomly obscure like sounds. His face would light up like crazy. It reminded him of when he used to work with strange sounds on a pipe organ. I played with him. Turn on some crazy sounds, face light up like crazy, turn on normal sounds, face smile, turn on crazy sounds, face light up like crazy, turn on normal sounds, face smile, turn on crazy sounds... God was that fun.