Raggin' Piano Boogie

 

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

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December 31, 2006

Pennsylvania



I woke up this morning thinking, "all I want to do is create music". I was not so concerned about the preparation details for the night's job; I just wanted to play music. Off Bo and I went to Haddonfield's First Night celebration where the town has welcomed us for the last seven years. My favorite part of celebrating New Year's Eve with Haddonfield is to be on the stage at the end of the night with Boner and to watch the fireworks go off in the middle of the street, big fireworks. However, that was not to happen this night as Bo was off the piano within the first ten minutes of performing with the first snap thrown on the ground by some nearby revelers. I did not want to think about what I was musically creating tonight but I was forced to, especially because people were listening. What a concept huh? I had the same responses from people listening to my Improvisation as to the Boogie Woogie and Ragtime. I had good responses. Moreover, of course Boner was the star attraction. I was acutely aware while improvising that I had to follow through with my musical thoughts, which was a bit of a challenge because as I said I did not want to think. About 8:45 pm, a test firecracker went off and Bo also went off, the piano again. This time he crawled under my seat. Then the rain started and I threw a cover over the truck. Then the rain stopped. Then I went and ate a cheese quesadilla or something like that, which was really stupid because it is very difficult to perform at the necessary energy level with a huge cheese quesadilla sitting in my stomach. We moved to different locations throughout the night. Kids jumped on the truck to play some of there own music. A young guy came up and asked to play as he did last year and it felt like a new tradition had begun for both of us. I saw a lot of friends made over the years and a lot of characters. I had a hard time talking in sound bites. At one point some friends yelled, "shut up and play!" I thanked them, shut my mouth and complied. A second test firecracker went off later on and this time Boner glued himself to the piano front while half hanging off and then he not only jumped off the piano, he went under my chair and tried to climb into the bottom of the piano casing. He really tried his best but his days of tolerating fireworks are over. I feel grateful to be appreciated and respected as much as I have been over the years by this town's, police, the residents and the event organizers. We all had a grand New Years Eve!!!


December 30, 2006

Pennsylvania

The fact is... I am having so much fun creating music that I do not want to stop. I have to make myself stop because I physically cannot handle it. I will play at top energy for like 30 minutes without taking a moment to breath musically and almost physically. It is a good thing that people have the option to walk in and out of the energy as they go in and out of stores and while driving cars driving up and down the street, on Germantown avenue in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia that is. I had about ten people in three hours also jump on the piano. Whatever friends they were with had to pull them off the truck as these ten music lovers also did not want to stop creating the music. The fact that the weather was wonderful helped. I woke up this morning saying to myself, get out of bed, you are a musician, that's what you are, go play music, that's what you do." Wow! If you knew what I used to say about myself in the past... well it was not pretty at all. Anyway, what a great way to end the year, sharing my music, my piano, and my venue with people who allow me to appreciate and respect them and who appreciate and respect all I have to offer.

December 29, 2006

Pennsylvania

We drove to Germantown avenue in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia gladly once again to the front of O' Doodles toy store. Bo likes it here I can tell because he jumps into the truck and onto the piano on his own whenever we park here and he has the strength to do so. Beforehand I was given a good sign. In fact, I was given five good signs. Magnetic signs, one for the back of the truck, one for each side door and one website strip sign for each side of the truck. Matt, from Insignia Signs & Graphics in Ambler made them for me and now "Traveling Piano" is official! I am very grateful for people like Matt who have offered to partake in my Wildest of Dreams. Something new happened today. Several drivers stopped traffic to jump out of their vehicles on Germantown Avenue to run around to the other side of my truck to throw money in the tip jar. I think that was pretty cool. Their effort and gesture meant everything. A guy came buy with the same computer I own and was making an Imovie of me from it. God it was so funny, I brought my computer out of the cab to make dual Imovies. His wife stood on one side of the truck while he stood on the other side of the truck and they made Imovies of each other making Imovies of my performing. Too bad I could not think fast enough for both cameras and my music at the same time. My music was so stupid that I randomly banged on the keys at the end. Ahh... it is what it is and it was all ridiculous fun. I felt like Ashly Simpson when she screwed up on Saturday Night Live. It is crazy playing on this street and running into the most unexpected people from grade school and college, my neighbors, old music teachers, people I know from California, Massachusetts, South Jersey... I guess everyone comes to Chestnut Hill. When I started creating music today on the busy and noisy city street I was acutely aware of the difference from yesterday's peaceful and silent winter park environment. Yesterday, the music I was creating was more attentive to self. Today the music started out that way but as the day progressed the music became enmeshed with the sounds of a busy city street. My musical individuality gave way to the sounds around me.

December 28, 2006

Pennsylvania

As it was a beautiful day and I needed some down time. Down time these days for me means moving at an easy pace. I decided to take a break from the creating music, promoting on the busy city street shtick... to go to my old haunting grounds the Delaware River Access area park by my house. It felt comforting to return to an old venue. I thought I had better brush up on some of my old repertoire of Boogie and Ragtime for my New Years Eve booking but I could not even start on it. I just had to play my own music, I could not help it. People gave me the usual "thumbs up" and "great" comments, which always gives me reassurance and is appreciated. I started to envision myself improvising for an indoor venue with Bo on top of a grand piano on stage, pre-main concert music while people find their seats. That revved me up. I found my playing definitely was stronger than a few months ago in this quiet spot where I could actually focus better on objectively hearing what I was creating. I get more drained from creating the music these days but I think that may be because I am caring more about it not because of my physical health or age. It was like a breath of fresh air to create music out the chaos of a busy, noisy and crowded city street. Each venue has something different to offer I like both environments and a constant for my life seems to need variety and diversity of experiences to stay fresh and interested and to progress in general.

December 27, 2006

Pennsylvania

Wow, difficult day. For anyone who does not know, this is all new for me I have not yet performed my own music in the cold or without getting paid on the street (motivation issues). I now play the Boogie Woogie and Ragtime that I am used almost by rote as I am so burnt out of it. The worse it gets through time the less I enjoy performing it. With my own music, it is not easy to keep the focus on music and fun because the weather is not in my favor. No birds, no trees (except for the dormant ones}, and no bees if you can get my drift. I am not sure whether the difficulty today was because it began to snow on my sound speaker or because a gust of wind took my piano bench full of promo and music and blew it twenty feet into the street on Germantown avenue. Maybe it was because some idiot stole the twenty bucks I put in to start the tip jar. A jar that makes me feel like an idiot in putting out to begin with. I have not yet recouped from Christmas, that may be part of the problem with my energy today. When people come up to talk, I did get energized, especially when they jumped onto the piano to create some music of their own. I was once again in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia. It was cold but I know it is only going to get colder. I keep telling myself, "it is all an experiment". Fun... Music... Growth... Creativity... Giving...

December 26, 2006

Pennsylvania

Christmas wiped me out! I ended up playing some piano for friends after dinner last night and of course, I was playing for myself because everyone was gabbing. They all wanted me to play, they just did not want to have to listen. I was wondering... "If I was a big time piano star I am sure they would all be giving me one hundred percent of their attention but... would it be about me or about the music?" If I was a big time piano star their thoughts while giving me attention would probably be curiosity about, "what's the big deal?" My personal persona, self, spirit does not need any attention directly but I would love for my music to get some and to get my other needs fulfilled through music. A more accurate word than attention concerning needs would be respect but what are you going to do with life long friends? It is what it is. They are what they are. I stayed in bed until I was forced out today. I really needed the down time, especially for the busy week to come. I have a New Years gig in Haddonfield NJ and I will need to prepare for it physically and mentally all week long while continuing to play outside on Germantown Ave in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia to promote the cross-country trip.

December 25, 2006

Pennsylvania

Ahh... it is Christmas Day, my first Christmas in my new musical world. Christmas will always be special for me because "it is what it is". My favorite thing to do on Christmas Day is to listen to Christmas music, musical memories from childhood Christmas experiences and anything new. When I find something Christmassy, musically new, I get relief if you know what I mean. I crave new Christmas music, I love newness, which is what Christmas is all about and put that with new music and you find one happy pup in me. I was going to go out and play today at a soup kitchen but when I woke up I realized I would have had to rush before the rain started and then I thought about all the promo and prop stuff in the truck to unpack and repack and I thought... uhh.uhh. I am enjoying some down time by myself before I start the days Christmas reveling with friends. Music and Fun and Peace and Love and Growth to all.

December 24, 2006

Pennsylvania

Well... today for the first time ever, I performed on Christmas Eve. I was grateful that I had something worthwhile to give to Christmas Eve. Chestnut Hill locals smiled as they passed and often thanked me for coming returning to the street. Their attention means a lot to me. I played Danny Christmas music today. Actually, someone asked for We Wish You A Merry Christmas and I had to bring the book out o play it for them. I watched the energy on the street pick up by the hour. A lot of baked food and desserts passed by from the shops and houses nearby. I must have soaked all the excitement and energy in along with my own Christmas chaos because I became whacked... drained. Also, I am realizing that I have not just been just playing the piano; I have been performing on the piano most of the time. There is a big difference. The energy level for performing for an hour stage concert is much different from say, playing the piano in a restaurant for four hours. I have been on stage for like four hours every day. It is exhausting. I love it but need to pace myself better. I have been wondering why Boner has been so lethargic and now I realize it is the same for him. Today he just gave up all the hello-ing to everyone, turned towards the street and went to sleep.

December 23, 2006

Pennsylvania

I broke my record for time improvising piano music today on the street, Germantown Avenue in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia, PA. I played for at least six hours, yea... at least six hours. Never in my wildest of dreams just a year ago would I have believed music would be part of my life to this depth or that I would have the physical strength to do this. Six frigin' hours... my own music. I thought to myself, "I am going to get better and better at this, I will never bore anyone because I would be the first to get bored and I am not a boring type of person. People may not be interested in what I am creating but it will never be because they are bored. I may fall into self indulgence musically but not into boredom." When I felt like I was getting stale I just stopped and got off the truck for a few minutes, got distracted with something else and then returned to start anew. I have been enjoying my gifting with music to this community and it has been a challenge to make it unconditional. I am doing pretty good considering performing music for the sake of music and not to pay the bills is a new concept for me. Of course I have hopes for funding from what I am doing, but I have no expectations. It is a good exercise for me in focusing on my honest and true purpose, which is to create music. What helped with the focus today is that I had to give up promoting and encouraging people to take the brochures because most of the people coming by are now returns... as in neighbors, return shoppers, store owners, employees etc... who I have already heard my "support" pitch. People seem very appreciative that I am in their neighborhood; they genuinely thank me for being there. I love when little kids come by and suddenly stop... look me right in the eye and spontaneously with mouth open say... wow! That is it nothing else just... wow! I feel "glee" when that happens and it happens always at least once a day. I put on my Christmas hat today and Bo had his reindeer antlers on. Fran the toy storeowner who is supplying me with juice "electricity for the piano speaker", after his record breaking sales day, came outside with his accordion to jam with his manager Chris on the piano.

December 22, 2006

Pennsylvania

So... ouch, damm, ouch, damm, ouch! I have been setting up or the last week outside O' Doodle's toy store on Germantown avenue in Chestnut Hill and I could not make it today because of the drizzle and rain. Fran the owner calls me to say get over here the local news is going to do their spot from the store tonight. It figures. This is the second time this week that my being in this spot could have panned out some but did not. The Inquire newspaper was there to take my picture earlier in the week and like an idiot, I told them I just had a feature in their neighbor's section a week before. So ended that photo op. So today I am trying to catch up with other work but I am going to get on the keyboard some... to play Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel, one of my favorite Christmas hymns.

December 21, 2006

Pennsylvania

How amazing that my friend Don happened by while I was creating music today. Don Kawash is the man who coached me with Ragtime and gave me my first break into show business with his show Scott Joplin and friends at a once famous Grendel's Lair cabaret theatre in Philly back in a past life time, the early 70's. Whew, how time flies. Don is one great ragtime piano player and we are close friends. It was really cool to have him play on the "ave', as in Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill PA. I brought my computer with me for some recording and was trying to create short musical segments for the website but I just wanted to musically go on and on. I guess I was being musically long winded but I was telling myself, "there are many musical pieces that last forty five minutes or more." Then I thought of all the bandwidth that would take up on the site and how I do not want to be long winded. I have a new hat I was wearing that better soon stretch because it gives me a headache from being too tight. It is such a cool hat I am being vain about it and suffer. I need to start using hand lotion as the cold is drying out my hands. It was a fun day, once again.

December 20, 2006

Pennsylvania

Tonight was a lot of fun, a lot of work, a lot of energy output, and a lot of music. I created my own music for at least three hours and I played for four hours. Wow! The energy was intense the entire time as the streets were packed with holiday shoppers. It was COLD. I kept focusing on my motives, purpose and agenda, which was to have fun, create music for everyone and promote the upcoming tour. I have faith things will work out with the money even though there was nothing tonight to validate that fact. After this present experience of self promotion I will be able to say I have worked the music business from every angle I know other than selling my soul which will not happen. I thought about it on the way to the performance location and made the decision that I will not sell my soul to make money with music. That will not be necessary. It is so much fun to share my piano. Oh yea, I was on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia outside O' Doodles toy store and I will remain there at least through the Christmas season. Chris the store manager played tonight and he turned out to be a seasoned piano player with a real fine New Orleans style of performance. Another guy got up to play who was also good. I enjoyed his excitement over the opportunity to play outside on the street for other people even more than his music. He was really jazzed. It was exciting to experience his enthusiasm.

December 19, 2006

Pennsylvania

I did not expect to get out and perform today because the truck was to go to the shop. I did go to the shop but there was no waiting. While at the shop I ran into someone who had seen me perform a few weeks ago at another location and the conversation lead to a local chamber of commerce so I made an unplanned visit to the commerce to generate some interest in the upcoming tour and to play them a tune. Maybe, something will come from it maybe not. Probably not... but I cannot afford to ignore any opportunity for success. Besides, I needed some incentive to play some music. I need to do it as often as possible because I become afraid when I stop. Hmmm... I need to think about that comment.

December 18, 2006

Pennsylvania

My original plan was to go into New York city today to improvise and promote the music across the country tour while taking advantage of the warmth and the holiday season. When I woke up, I said to myself... "uhh, I don't think so." I was extremely exhausted from the performing and promoting from the last few days. The clincher was the realization that Boner absolutely needed a break also. I left Boner to hang out with my niece for the day and I went to New York with my friend Brad to see the sights. The street musicians were killing me. I should say they were killing my pockets, my wallet. There were many street musicians. I never saw so many before and they all were creating great music and I could not pass one of them up without tipping them. Also, as I result of my own recent experience in playing for tips I could not contribute only one or two dollars for a street musician I had to go for fiver's. I put out five bucks, six times. When I thought about it that was only thirty bucks, one dinner at a medium priced restaurant for six wonderful musicians expressing creativity in the subways and on the streets.

December 17, 2006

Pennsylvania

I went back to Chestnut Hill today to the same spot as yesterday outside of O' Doodle's Toy store. As a playful person, the energy surrounding this store is good for me. The town's environment, businesses and people have been inclusive, welcoming, respectful and interested so I am going to call it home for the holidays. New York tomorrow, truck repair Tuesday and then I will park on Germantown Avenue in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia at least until Christmas. The clincher for my decision is that the streets are filled with people from all walks of life and I am naturally drawn to communities full of diversity on every level. I am now acclimated to improvising in a business environment along with in parks and for specific performance venues. The sounds of traffic with my music titillates me for some reason, maybe it is about the movement. The variety of vehicles on the street matched the variety of people on the sidewalks. Buses, old station wagons, trucks, hummers, jaguars, jalopies etc... all passing by within a few feet of me all day long. My neighbor and friend Wes who has helped me with the structure of my website appeared with his cute date for the day. What a coincidence that was! In Chestnut Hill from my home street? Wes jumped on board to play some Charlie Brown Christmas piano music. There was a lot of moneyed people and a lot of no moneyed people floating around and no way to tell who was who, or what was what. I like it that way. I was there to promote interest in the cross-country tour and to create music for the sake of music for everyone. That was the agenda. The tip jar Fran the to store owner suggested I put out was not doing well, so he slipped in a couple hundred bucks when I was not looking. I found it when I was packing up to leave. I knew there must have been a reason I let him play on the piano especially with the hokey stuff he was playing. He was getting down with mummer's music and oh susanna sing-along stuff. It was bringing back past life horrors of mine. Today was all about fun and fun it was. I hate to say it but I think Fran looks better in a picture formate than me while sitting at the piano.

December 16, 2006

Pennsylvania

I am so exhausted I got dizzy when I came home. That is a good thing because it is exhausted fun but it would be better if I were dizzy because I got so rich. Not really, maybe really, not really, oh... who the hell cares. Fun IS my priority these days. I called a fun and positive guy... the now, sole proprietor as he happily informed me of O' Doodles Toy store in Chestnut Hill Pennsylvania. This was a hopping place! Fran has been supportive of me in the past so I offered to play in front of his store on Germantown Avenue. He saved a parking spot for me out front was willing to be helpful in anyway. He coaxed me into putting a tip jar out and at first, I refused. I knew that I would not crack a hundred in tips even with Boner on top of the piano. People only put in a dollar. They loved and appreciated what I was doing and really loved Bo but I guess the "tip the piano player" mentality demands one dollar only. Needless to say, I did not crack a hundred dollars in tips but I need to collect every penny that I can... in every way... to create this cross-country trip so... for the first time ever today... I humbly played the piano for tips! Is a dollar better than nothing? Is a penny better than nothing?

Anyway, back to the fun. My camera broke so I could not get a damm picture. I will get one tomorrow because I enjoyed the inclusiveness and company of everyone so much that I am going back. I have great brochures to give to everyone. Playing in this spot today was no coincidence as my sound batteries are no longer taking a charge. I would not have been able to play today if I had not been at Fran's store. I am sure it is the $1400 inverter that will need replacing immediately... when I find out where I can buy one. The one I have been using is fifteen years old. O'Doodles fed me electricity from the store. It was a beautiful day. Another store nearby asked me to come on Wednesday night and I said I would. My music original music was awesome to me. I felt like I was riding the piano. I forced myself to try and play the chord structure of "O Christmas Tree" three simple chords that I just could not remember. I even put the sheet music in front of me. Talk about feeling stupid. I will keep trying with this mental block of mine. I know people reading this write now are like, huh? I have never been able to play by ear, chord, or improvise on a song in the past. I have played my hour of memorized music and that is it. Now I improvise via stream of conscious. Give me a chord to work with and I get overwhelmed.

My favorite part of today was when a hot blond jumped onto the piano seat to play. As I listened I discovered that she was a major pianist, real good at what she does. She played Hanukah music on my piano! All I could say was...fun...fun...fun. I hope someone sends me a picture of today so I can put it up on this website.

December 15, 2006

Pennsylvania

Let the games begin! I started the day with a $200 paypal contribution from a close friend. So, you know where that put my head? In a good place. I drove to Phoenixville, PA to pick up my $1500 dollar order of brochures. I was going to hang out for the day and "work the town". On the way, I said to myself, "synchronicity is happening, I can feel it, I didn't think it would start until I left for California but it started, I can feel it." For those have witnessed my amazing life experiences and for those who have read the Mississippi, New Orleans blog from last year... I am officially in the "Danny World of Synchronistic Wonder". I have begun the last whirlwind on my life. I do not know how long it will last or where it will take me but it is definitely the last. I am going to milk it with all of my ability and most importantly share it all.

I am driving in Phoenixville PA thinking about this guy Mark from the local Jaycees who hires me for their town parade every year. He has always exemplified the enthusiasm for life that I now have and he has always been easy to deal with, a positive guy. And then Mark pulls up in his car beside me while we are driving and starts waving. We stopped and chatted for a few seconds and as I continued on m route I thought, "the right people are definitely coming into your life." It is going to be very difficult to keep short the writing about days like today. Ok, so I stopped at the wrong printing company building but ended up playing some music for everyone there. I continued next door to the correct place and performed for the guys on the loading dock. Oh, I forgot. When I left the house this morning I stopped at the bank to get money. The place is under construction. One of the guys working started to yell to me as he has met me in the past and wanted to connect especially so he could tell his buddies that I was for real. I did my business and on the way out stopped to play some Boogie for them. Of course, they loved it! Me too.



I was driving down the road towards Schwenksville, PA and saw a tall structure that reminded me of the burning man festival in Colorado. I stopped to explore what was going on and met a small group getting ready for the Firebird Festival that is similar. I decided to stop and give them some music. The one guy had a familiar accent and I asked where he was from. He said Denmark. I told him I had a friend in Copenhagen that I have wanted to get on one of my daily Oprah Wildest Dream tapes but the distance has been a problem. He said that he was going there in two days. How cool is this? So, he had a small video with him and I taped the first part for some future date and he is going to get my friend Paul Erik to give his pitch in Denmark next week and then give me the tape to send into Harpo productions. The word for this kind of experience is "synchronicity."

I ended up in Zieglerville, Pennsylvania at the Perkiomenville Valley Middle School West in Montgomery County. Don't you just love the names of these towns? Let me describe the schools and school grounds in this shcool district. WOW! What an amazing environment to teach and raise successful students. Clean, rich, new, intellegent, organized, open, active, caring, nourishing words come to mind. They were having a "stuff-the-bus" with toys activity fundraiser and I played for hundreds of screaming, fun loving middle schoolers. My music was "one" with the chaos. If anyone can do chaos well it is I. Now I get to do it though my own music. Wow! Let me tell you what the energy level was like. I let Boner down to run around on the ground a little. After three minutes he not only wanted to get back on top of the piano, he jumped into the truck and on top by himself for the first time in weeks. I had a real good piano player named Keith get up to play and also about twenty-five kids had their turn with Traveling Piano.

I went inside the school for a few minutes before I left and it rained for that few minutes right through my piano speaker cones. I hope the speaker works tomorrow. On the way home a not good sound started in the truck engine. I tried going into denial saying it was from the cars around me. Every time the car I thought it creating the sound left my view... I would attribute the troubled sound to another nearby car. After I knew for sure it was me I thought, "this sounds like one of the kids cars running through the neighborhood." Bad muffler under the engine? I stopped at a neighbor's house before I went home hoping he could tell me what was wrong, he was out so I stopped at the neighbor next door who knows cars also. The air filter was loose.

December 14, 2006

Pennsylvania

I want to report like an excited child every detail of my experiences today. I will try to be brief. It was my first good day of musical business tasking. Very little money was donated so far, but I was paced, had a good time, was "gifted" and was able to "gift" myself. The temperature was not too cold. I was the most comfortable yet with playing my sounds on the street. I was able to have direct interactions with many people, varieties of people, and spent time with a lot of kids. I played piano and many children and adults also played. I went to Ambler, PA a town that has always been respectful, inclusive and giving to me as a musician. I have played for their Christmas parade for the last ten years. As I went in and out of stores to introduce myself I found that everyone on the main street knew me. No one on the side streets knew me. It kept dawning on me that no one had ever seen me off the truck before or had the opportunity to hear me talk. That experience was fun. For ten years, everyone has just seen me perform as I drive by. I got my talk down; if you can say it shorter and better, I want to hear that. It goes like this. "Have you ever seen a piano man on a truck with a dog that sits on the piano? (they say yes or no) I have been making my living performing on the back of my pickup truck for twenty years and Boner my dog (I point to him sitting in the doorway) has been sitting on top of the piano for the last ten years. We are going to cross the country to perform for communities that do not have the advantages that we have to gift them with music. I want to ask for your support so I can say the music is a gift from my community to yours. When you get a chance please read over the brochure (I hand it to them) I would appreciate any support that you can give." I started about at 12pm. I got home at 9pm. Before I began, I was thinking about how I need signs for the truck and what to do. I happened upon a sign shop called Insignia Signs and Graphics so I stopped in to ask the guy what my options were. It took less than five minutes of trying to explain what I needed and why for Matt the owner before he offered to make me magnetic signs as his part contribution. I did not have to ask, he offered this to me. The weblink for his store at 43 North Main Street can be found on travelingpaino.com.... Random acts of kindness go a long way with me. Matt's support set the tone for my day.

I ran into Bernadette who handles Main Street for the parade ever year. It so happens that Santa was coming to town via the train tonight. All the towns' children were to meet him at the train and escort him up the street to the local theater to have a lap talk with him. As I had just been gifted, it was very easy for me to tell her that I would stay and work to provide music for the town while everyone was waiting. I could tell she was excited which excited me even more. In the meantime, The Shanachie restaurant was hospitable enough to treat me to dinner across the street from where Santa's was to park his butt. I had a delicious Irish stew, how I love to be treated to good food! Wasn't that generous? Santa came, about twelve kids took their turns at playing the piano and so did the "nana" of one of the children. The night ended with Santa granting my request to have Boner and my picture with him. I gave my camera to sixteen year old Mike who was standing nearby. Mike had been playing the piano earlier. I told him the camera battery is almost dead, so he needed take the two best final shots. He did while Santa sat on MY lap! Santa said he wanted to warn me that he was a heavy man. "Do you know how much I weight," he asked? He was the biggest I had ever seen him. I cautiously said," three hundred and fifty... Santa?" He warned me, "closer to four hundred". I said, "I can take it Santa" and he proceeded to climb over the side of the truck. I was amazed at how powerful and agile he was. I thought several of us were going to need to help him up from the back tailgate. I was aware the truck sank to the ground a bit. Santa was a good sport! After he sat on my lap, we switched positions and I sat on his lap. Here Comes Santa Claus, Here Comes Santa Claus...


December 13, 2006

Pennsylvania

It was a cold damp and rainy day so I did not get to go outside and play. I have an enormous amount of "not playing the piano" work to do so I needed the time at my office desk. I now get so much satisfaction from creating music outdoors that I crave it although not the business part of it. I get a lot of satisfaction meeting all kinds of people and having positive exchanges with them. I get satisfaction from making money from creating music. I do not get very much satisfaction from the hustling involved with the business end of my music... the finding of work, money, dealing with rejection, distractions, uncertainties. For the next few weeks, it will be a challenge to develop the talent, the focus of switching back and forth and keeping a balance. I am talking about sitting down at the piano to be "in the moment" with my music and then to stop and jump into interaction with people, and then to jump into business interaction... all the while being responsible with the different environments and situations and also keeping a hand on the self satisfaction that I am in the process of following through with what I have decided to do. I want to take the good with the bad and focus on the fun.

December 12, 2006

Pennsylvania

I went o the streets of Hatboro, Pennsylvania to create some music and interest for the cross-country trip. I had recently performed for the towns Christmas parade and was featured on television from the parade, and also had a feature in the newspaper the week before so I would say about one in three people knew who I was. I did not play as much music as I would have liked on the street. I walked into one restaurant where I saw a beautiful grand piano and had to resist asking to play it. I had places to go, people to see, things to do. There were not many people walking on the streets and this was not a situation where the shop owners would have come outside. Everyone was working so Bo and I ran up and down the streets introducing ourselves and putting out a pitch for support. Boner was tuckered out and a little bewildered from my appearing and disappearing in and out of stores. God I hope this works, it better work. I want to be part of a bigger picture with what I have to offer the world. What happened to my writing about my playing music and people's reactions to that? I want to strike a balance that works between creating music for others and paying my bills.

December 11, 2006

Pennsylvania

Trying to wrap my brain around this business, donation, pay the bills, free performance, career investment of a life time... be part of... stuff... is racking my brain big-time. Dollar tips of respect...? Thousands per performance fee...? Zero bucks...? God help me. After spending $100 and four hours with my printer today in my office, I got to go outside for about an hour to play and create some interest. I pulled into a small strip mall near my house where Christmas trees were being sold and jumped in the truck to play. I felt really stupid at first. It took about five minutes before personal interaction began and then it all became fun. Driving 50 feet down the parking lot, jumping out of the truck into the back bed, focusing on the creation of music for a few minutes, stopping to hand out brochures, talking with people, keeping aware of Boner and the environment around me, running into shops to hand brochures, running back out for a repeat of it all... takes time. About five times for a small strip mall. It is going to be difficult to cover the ground necessary to raise funds for this cross-country tour. I am realizing the limitations but also that the one-on-one positive interaction via music, Boner and myself is the only important thing about what I am doing. At the end of the strip was a playground for the nearby daycare center. The chaos involved with what I am trying to achieve became all worthwhile as I improvised with about twenty... three-foot high jumping beans banging against the fence. Kinder tots galore. The energy I was drawing from these little children was amazingly fun. After about ten minutes, they started to separate and bounce all over the fenced in yard never stopping for a second. Bo could not have been less interested. I was in awe of the situation. Afterwards, I went to a local pizza joint to surprise a thoughtful friend with a few moments of music from the truck before I went inside to give him a one of my music CD's and to have some dinner. The owner freaked running out waving his hands with, "I don't want you taking up one of the customers parking spots". I said, "I am one of your customers, I am here to eat and I am here for a steady customer of yours who is not here yet." I was about as loud as a radio playing in a car. He walked back inside chagrined. As the parking lot was half empty I concluded that he was feeling territorially freaked and fearful of the unknown. I didn't ask him first. Lesson learned. Better I learn it here at home than somewhere in jabip with a shotgun up my ass.

December 10, 2006

Pennsylvania

I had to work up the nerve to go out today. Playing strictly for the fun verses playing to try and get donations are two different mindsets for me. As I started out driving I thought, "priority Danny, fun." Then I went to thinking, maximum exposure, and performance energy, pacing, number of locations, donation value, time issues and then I started to get bogged down so I said to myself... "just do it, just go somewhere and play!" As I passed a small flower shop selling Christmas trees with kids waving to passers my mind turned to, "these people look like they would enjoy some fun and that is what I want too, fun." I pulled to the side of the road with about two feet between me and the traffic whizzing by at 45-50 miles an hour. I was on Street road in Bensalem PA across the street from the development that I live in. It was fun. Everyone took a turn at the piano. I love the sounds of traffic flying by while I improvised. I was trying to "jam" on Jingle Bells because I could not play the tune from my head no matter how hard I tried. This is even after playing it from the sheet music every year for a lifetime. I tried jamming to the rhythm in my head, "jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way". That was interesting and worthy of exploration but damm if I could remember the next words or phrase. I must have tried it five times in a row and could not do it. It is crazy. I am going to keep trying. The sound system lasted barely forty-five minutes. I am hoping that is because of the cold and not because the batteries or inverter is dying. That will be another thousands bucks. The owner offered to send out brochures with their flower orders so I took advantage of the offer. She tipped me 20 bucks. I took it. It is a humbling difference from what I get for a usual performance fee but, "it is what it is, I am doing a different thing here". I have trust and faith that it will pay out somehow down the line and I do not ever want to reject a gesture of good will even if it comes in the form of a quarter. When I got home, I started a tip jar to hold donations such as this. Lets see... with 3,500 more twenty dollar tips I will be able to finance this trip and get a truck to continue.

I want to remember last nights drive home into the Lincoln Tunnel from New York City. The maneuvering to get into this tunnel is truly an amazing experience. It is anarchy in its purist form, total chaos, a free for all with cars, trucks, limos everything you can imagine coming from at least nine different traffic lanes and directions to funnel into one lane of tunnel traffic. The police are at the entrance to the tunnel, the turn a blind eye to the entry action two hundred feet away. It is a time of dare, aggression and abandonment. It is not a very polite and courteous situation. To drive into the Lincoln tunnel necessitates the lowest and most nasty elements of a driver's personality. To exemplify non-care and respect is not only accepted it is an absolute must. I see the experience as a possible future performance opportunity. I wonder if everyone would move out of the way for the piano truck, have an accident from being distracted or would, "shoot the piano player" to act out the highest form of aggression.

December 09, 2006

Pennsylvania

Today is a holiday. I am almost scared to say it. Today, I am going to demand balance in my life. I am going to take a day off. I have been social over the last year and a half but I have not taken one full day off since June 1, 2005. I am writing this in the early am and posting it because when I wake up I am going to do no work. I am going up to New York City for the day to hangout with a friend and I am going to play for the day. Play as in anything but the piano. It will be a challenge not to take a camera, spend the day thinking about how I can work angles, take brochures or business cards to drop off... I am going to focus on seeing a play, movie, eating out, the sights, people etc... no Traveling Piano, no Raggin' Piano Boogie, no I have to do this... I need to do that... Oprah... I am doing all before I go to bed and after 12am so I can say it is for the correct day. It is amazing for me to think that this would be a challenge. The next couple of weeks are going to be crazy for me in trying to get donations for the cross-country tour and I need to make sure that I have the choice for myself to walk away from it all. I am doing what I am doing out of choice not out of obsession, habit, fear, guilt. I am living my life out of the choice for passion and love and it is going to stay that way. Fun.

December 08, 2006

Pennsylvania

Let the experiment begin! With piano, truck, dog, brochures, business cards and a passionate spirit I set off to Newtown Pennsylvania's main street to perform and collect funds to provide music for no cost to communities across America. Booking performances is not the same as soliciting a donation. Was it easy? No. Was it cold? Yes, a 21-degree wind chill factor cold. Anyway... there is a reason I have never played the piano to collect tips before and why it has never worked for me. It became clear today. For the first twenty six years of my life I was humiliated beyond belief for ever, ever... even having the idea... of asking for anything at all. That is the truth. It was not until I was twenty-six years old before I ever experienced the feeling of, "it is ok to ask", from another person. That feeling of freedom had to be given to me from another human being and then I had to accept it with trust. That is where the word "grace" comes to mind.

I set up the truck, put Boner's coat on him, and jumped onboard to "wail" away with about fifteen minutes of improvisation. I kept telling myself to not look strained when I was playing from the potential of feeling ridiculous, or from the cold. Then I would jump out of the truck and start running in and out of stores to do... "the ask thing". First I would say to myself, "make sure when you introduce yourself to people you look like you want to have sex with them". That meant communicate that I am secure, happy, passionate, glad to see them, personable and attractive. I am constantly amazed at how many people do not use a computer. How was that for a quick shift of topic?

I would then ask, "are you the owner of this store?" Then I would say, "hi, have you ever heard of a piano man with a dog on a truck?" They would say yes or no and then I started to develop the soundbite "spiel". I don't have it down yet but its like this so far... "I have been making my living playing the piano on the back of a pickup truck for the last twenty years and my dog Boner (Bo was sitting outside each store on the sidewalk waiting each time during the second hour) has been on top of the piano for the last ten years. We are going across country to "gift" music to communities that do not have the advantages that we have and I would like to ask for your support. I want to say nationally, that what I am presenting the gift of music from my community at home to yours."

As I was driving home, I thought. This is going to be a major challenge, to reach enough people in the amount of time necessary to drum up support. As of today, one person has donated from over the four thousand emails I sent. Well, this journey is going to happen no matter what because I have made the decision to do it. It is a good way for me to contribute to the world what I can best offer, it is a good idea and my motives are clear and worthy.

Fun is the operative word for me and to remember also, "pace yourself, Danny."

December 07, 2006

Pennsylvania

I was multi-tasking today. I really needed to get out and play and I also needed to pick up a few cartons of stuff from a friends house so I loaded the truck and then pulled in the backyard... My music was like a turbulent ocean of sound with no stability whatsoever. That felt freeing for me. I really needed to express my mind body and soul musically. I have been going through an amazing life change since the pursuit of my wildest of dreams. Now a days I need to exercise, I need to create music, I need to be with people to share, I need to care about what I eat, I need all that life can offer... as balanced as possible, more often than ever before. I need all of this because I truly want it. I woke up this morning and said to myself, "you are a musician, an artist". I know most people cannot understand that this is a new awareness and acceptance for me but it is the truth. I have a respect for myself as a musical artist that never existed before.

December 06, 2006

Pennsylvania

This past week has been about... "keep going". My outside playing has not been practical. I will be making up for all the time missed in the coming weeks. So, another "flashback"! In the late eighties, I went out and played in 0 degree weather and big winds under the big Adams mark Billboard on City Line Avenue in Philadelphia across from channel 10 and 6. I was next to a big trailer and a small plastic covered stage. I do not even think the hotel is in this spot any more. It was a prime spot back when. I was playing for the annual radio station food drive. I remember there were a lot of slobs around and the WYSP rock and roll radio DJ doing the broadcast live from inside their van. There was beer, a sleazy girl, an unmade bed and a guy with dirty black beard growth. I played for about an hour and they flipped, loved it while I was playing for the rush hour traffic. They hooked me up to their sound system big time and my sound blew them away. I came home hearing me being plugged on the radio... as I drove "you gotta come down here and see Danny Kean play... Rockin out the tunes from the back of this pickup truck. I came home and called them to tell them it was great playing and I appreciate the plugs but I want to do pickups and perform for the people giving the food. I wanted them to promote the idea of a piano playing Santa that would go to the listener's work place to pick up the donated food and play for them while they filled the truck up to take back to the food trailer. I wanted the DJ to play the music and describe the visual. I wanted to be a Santa's helper. They brought the idea and plugged it a couple of times on air but did not describe it or play the music even though I left them a tape and flyers. I went back the next morning 7am and played again, nothing came of it. I wonder if they are still doing it, maybe I will call and see what is up tomorrow and have another go at it almost twenty years later.

December 05, 2006

Pennsylvania

I am still "flashback"! ...ing from yesterdays West End fair in Pennsylvania. I experienced a scooter salesman with a booth at the fair. He was obsessed with my ability to play the piano and wanted me to come to his house to play on his new, white, hundred thousand dollar recording, self-playing piano. I was impressed by him because I watched him work and listened to what he told me about his life and saw what it took for a business man to be successful with his work, twenty four hours a day being on call for 800 phone number orders, showcasing, wheeling and dealing constant working with high energy. Money will do that to most people. I'm ready for it. Fun is what I experienced playing for the farm plow derby races while listening to the roar and putt, putt, putting of the tractors with the music. I was selling home made dog treats at the time for a dollar a piece and I had to be careful about that concerning Bo. I wanted people to buy them for their dog at home but everyone was feeding them to Bo as he sat farting because of them all day long on the piano. He didn't mind he just wanted more, more, more. Some people gave me trouble trying to bargain over a dollar treat. I thought to myself, "these are not Tip the Piano Player people they don't want to give it up for a dollar purchase." People would eat the treats from the basket, on the bench, in the back of the truck thinking they were freebie food samples. That fact was very interesting to me. I enjoyed watching Boner's reaction to the smell of the tigers that were performing nearby. As soon as he caught their scent, he had a look unlike any other. To this day, I cannot describe it. Was it fear, curiosity, intrigue? I caught a glimpse of myself when in the truck mirrors on arriving home the last day. I wished I had a picture of the sight. I had been wearing big old-fashioned headphones while trying to stay awake listening to music. I wore these funky sunglasses and my head was plastered back against the headrest with Bo sitting upright next to me oblivious to anything as he was zonked out from work. It was a fun visual.

December 04, 2006

Pennsylvania

I am "flashback"! ...ing still from yesterday from the West End fair in Pennsylvania. After dealing with the Sheriff, I remember positioning the truck in another designated spot. No one told the Grounds Keeper I was going to be there and I think he must have had some brain damage or something too. I guess he didn't notice the nice shiny truck with big speakers high on poles, professional signs on the trucks, a guy dressed in a shirt and tie unlike any of the fair goers and a dog sitting on the piano. He thought I just drove onto the fair grounds from home with the piano on the back of my truck to play without permission. I sat and listened to him chew me a new asshole for a good ten minuets without letting me get a word in. When he finished, I explained that I was a performer for the fair. He walked away to his office yelling into the air. I remember positioning the truck into yet another designated spot and no one told the Amusement Ride Owner that I was to be there... well, you know the rest. One day I was driving between two buildings to get into the fair grounds and a couple of kids on go carts delivering Pepsi thought they could pull a fast one on me. Instead of waiting for me to get through the path as I was already half way through, they tried to drive through from the opposite direction at about twenty miles an hour. Everything came to a sudden halt as I heard the sound of my drivers mirror crunching against the side of my truck. They has successfully wedged their way off the ground between my truck and the building next to me. I was insidethe truck. This created a lot of very polite people all throughout the day while an all point bulletin was sent over fifty miles away to find me a new mirror. To find parts was not an easy task for an old truck like mine. I am going to keep on going with this one again tomorrow.

December 03, 2006

Pennsylvania

I am still recovering from yesterday's performance so today will be a "flashback!" These are just random memories of a county fair I performed for in Pennsylvania a few years ago. It was a five-day booking which was unusual, a challenge especially since I drove back and forth over two hours each way, each day to the job. It was cheaper than a motel and the driving gave me time to wind down each day before falling to sleep. I remember this guy who looked exactly like Yogie the bear and he worked on me every day to play "Roll Out the Barrel" every hour, every day. I remember a guy coming up to me to show me how Boner talks by just dropping his mouth open for food? I remember positioning the truck in a designated spot. No one told the Sheriff I was going to be there and I think he must have had some brain damage or something. I guess he didn't notice the nice shiny truck with big speakers high on poles, professional signs on the trucks, a guy dressed in a shirt and tie unlike any of the fair goers and a dog sitting on the piano. He thought I just drove onto the fair grounds from home with the piano on the back of my truck to play without permission. I sat and listened to him chew me a new asshole for a good ten minuets without letting me get a word in. When he finished, I explained that I was a performer for the fair. He pulled out his walkie talky and yelled into it asking who the hell I was and then just walked away. Now I am starting to remember stuff. I am going to continue this into tomorrow.

December 02, 2006

Pennsylvania

I started out with a new parade today, the Salem City New Jersey Christmas parade. I do not know what it is with this area of New Jersey, I feel so comfortable with the people in this area. It is near Alloway New Jersey where I do a Halloween parade every year. It was a short parade, I should have done a pre-hype to give them more music for the money and because I drove two hours to get there. I did not know what to expect. Maybe next year we can set it up better. We needed to start at the beginning because I had another parade to perform in way up in Ambler Pennsylvania and I had to get there right away afterwards. Something went wrong with the start; I noticed all the parade unites leaving without me. I jumped off the piano had to run ahead of the truck to lead my friend Cindy who was driving in and out of the start lineup to get me up front. Everyone running the parade was very cooperative. In the meantime, Bo decided to not sit on the piano and jumped into the back of the truck. The parade went by so fast I didn't really get to see the crowd. I played like a maniac and then when I was done tore down the equipment like a maniac and then raced like a maniac to Ambler. I got there in plenty of time, good thing because my dyslexia took hold and I took a wrong turn. A half hour later, I realized I was really lost. It was amazing I got to the parade just in time. I usually do a pre-hype for Ambler but for some reason they had expected me to play during the parade in between musical units on main street after I went through the parade so that worked out well. When I arrived, the police lady yelled over to me, "now it's complete were ready to go, the piano man's here! That made me feel real good, as this was my tenth year with this community. We are all buddies. Boner was so patient throughout. He turned twelve years old this week.

December 01, 2006

Pennsylvania

Out of a nice guy impulse, I agreed to go play for the opening of Barbara's frame shop in Newtown, PA during the town's first Friday event. It was killing me to do it without getting paid, as it was a business event. My business is music so I should have been making money too. I was going to use the situation to try and raise funds for the tour across country but I fell into a problem with getting the promo printed so I had none to use. I am completely out of promo; I do not even have any business cards left. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Barbara is so nice and such a hotty, how could I resist in helping her out. She also did a great framing job for a painting of Bo and I. Maybe something will come out of it all, I doubt it. I have never received anything directly from giving a freebie in my life. Oh well. I am due for some financial gifting from my work! I'll take a moment here to say yo people╔ if you tip the piano guy╔ a buck is like a penny and do give me the old, "well pennies add up routine, please. A Burger King lunch meal is like six or seven dollars ╔ cheessszze╔ (and no onions please). After about an hour we all experienced the frightening rainstorm that had been hyped for the last two days. It lasted for about five minutes and then the moon came out and I went back to work. I had wanted to improvise only, but the environment demanded excitement so I was forced to do the Boogie and Ragtime for everyone. I do what I need to do, what can I say? They loved it.