Raggin' Piano Boogie

 

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

Use the links to the left to read a past Month or Year... and then there is always your Backspace to return to a past page.

January 31, 2007

Pennsylvania

I need a break from this venue writing stuff. Here are pictures from Philly Car Show 2000, 2001, 2002. A picture is worh a thousand words, rigtht?


January 30, 2007

Pennsylvania

Ha. I sense people are tired of hearing about flashbacks. They want life now and in the present. Where am I playing the piano? What is happening? The truck just got inspected today. I have spent almost $2000 on it to help it through the "Flight of Peregrinating Musical Exploration! hehehe.... that is the name for this journey. The guts of the truck are out all over the place, I am painting the piano, cleaning out the dog hair, checking the electrical wiring, I brought an new power inverter, one speaker to take on the trip, scraping off the mud from the truck bed and getting everything nice and spiffy for the Philly International Car Show Gala on Friday. I am delaying immediate gratification in going out on great days like today (really I have no choice) but I will be doing it forever.............. starting on the 9th of February. Someone emailed me saying... "Hey Danny! I set you up. Good luck on your trip." I am afraid to write back and ask how he has set me up. What am I do with a blank comment like that? I know better than to put any thought one way or the other with it. I am going to use my metronome tonight to practice my ragtime for Friday's gig.

January 29, 2007

Pennsylvania

!Flashback! My last with Acme Supermarket Openings. Like a good employee, I usually treated people with respect even when they didn't deserve it. There were those unusual times... like when this old bitty (you can say bitch on television but I don't feel uncomfortable saying that in this forum), oh well I know I've said worse on this website, this old bitch came at me yelling, "butter, butter, butter, where is the butter" and I remembered just mirroring her with, "salt, salt, salt, where's the salt". I don't know why I remember this except maybe I was seeing an impatient and obnoxious part of myself in her. Or maybe I was angry because I was always around food, especially free samples and I could never get enough. I remember dieting and consciously breathing in through my mouth and out real hard through my nose as I walked down the aisles to try to throw off the temptation of the smells all around me. Once I ended up spending my entire fee on the food sale items. It was many hundred of dollars worth of food that I brought that day. I often stayed out of the stores so I was not tempted by the celebration food spreads they supplied in the employee lounges. After a new company brought the stores and the promotional money started to dwindle so did those employee spreads. I watched the employee excitement dwindle to. It went right into employee zombie-ism as they took their breaks. The stores went from supplying lavish fruits, sandwiches, dips, donuts, meats and cheeses to... chips and a couple two-litter bottles of soda. Did you know they pump smells into the door areas of supermarkets like the smell of fried chicken cooking? Outside, I watched many people get frantic over parking spots with the fighting and all that goes along with it. I always enjoyed joggers joining me in rhythm to my music, the employees that would boogie out the doors with food, slabs of meat, shopping carts, kids in hand, all the promotional characters, the penn valley milk cow, the purdue chicken, the oscar myer wiener, yep I've met them all in my days. I was always fun even when it was not fun. It was fun because I was able to make a living playing the piano from the back of a pickup truck!

January 28, 2007

Pennsylvania

...continued... !Flashback! ... Ok two more writings of my memories and visuals created during Acme Supermarket openings, reopenings, refurbishings, ongoing promotions... etc... in places like Clifton Heights, Glenolden, Bensalem Pennsylvania... I did a lot of em'. During one booking an elderly couple was walking across the street to the store, the familiarity of the music caused them to stop walking. They had not yet discovered me and Boner and they were trying to find the source of the music. They were in the middle of the road and became confused and mixed up their thinking as to where the music was coming from with... where they were walking to. I watched them turning in circles and as the guy turned and began to focus on Bo and me he froze and the pipe he was smoking fell out of his mouth. I had to jump off the truck and run over to help them out of harms way. The wind was strong and it was cold. The chaotic sounds of the promotional banners and streamers flapping over my head were driving me crazy. Two elderly ladies pushed on buy hanging on to the same shopping cart so the wind would not blow them over. Boner spent all of his time begging people to come over to give him supermarket food. I saw a guy multi tasking as he drove by. He was doing barbell exercises out his car window. As it got dark, another guy drove by and turned on his car strobe light to enhance the music for me and make a connection. As time progressed, I became fixated, staring at the time clock on the bank wall across the street counting down the minutes until I was finished.

January 27, 2007

Pennsylvania

...continued... !Flashback! So, I am still going on about visuals from Acme supermarket openings in the cold. One of my favorite memories... because it was so ridiculous, was an opening in Bridgeton, NJ. The weather was brutally cold and the start time was for 8AM in the morning. With that in mind, I decided to take my time and drive the two hour trip the night before. Bo and I stayed in a local hotel where I had to sneak him in and then teach him to be as quiet as possible and not to bark every time someone walked by the door. The next morning I found there had been an overnight ice storm but I went and played at the store anyway. It was located on the outskirts of town in a yet to be developed area. It was freezing outside and I had a flu. There were no customers and only two store employees, one was the manager. They stood and watched me from inside like I was crazy. I was. It was all new to me and I had no one to tell me not to play and I needed the money so I was going to do the job no matter what. A salt truck drove by right next to me and pelted me with salt. I thought, "you idiot" and then I thought, "who's the idiot?" I would run inside the store with Bo every ten minutes to get warm. I was performing in -17 degree wind chill. I am not kidding. I loved the challenge of it. Yea, so I was a moron but I was having a good time being one and making good money at it. I started to get really sick but continued to rise to the challenge. In trying to make the best of the situation I remember saying to myself, "thank God you have the flu and it is making you fart because it is creating the only available source of heat". With that thought I realized I was pushing the "being a real trooper" thing too much and went home to bed.

January 26, 2007

Pennsylvania

...continued... !Flashback! While performing for supermarket openings, I did them for years... I saw a lot of anger. In Burlington NJ, I remember one guy in particular throwing his crap my way. As he walked by the Raggin' Piano Boogie truck he turned from yelling at his wife to me while shouting at the top of his lungs for me to stop playing so he could hear himself scream. He kept it up until he left the site by laying on his car horn obnoxiously and then throwing trash out of his window and onto the ground. People would give woof-woof talks to Boner and never give me a glance. Some people would actually tell me they stole dog biscuits from inside the store for Boner. Some people purchased treats for him. Sometimes the sound of kids gathering shopping carts would be louder than the music. It was always fun when a fly by shopping cart would appear from no where, the wind would blow it this way and that and I would guess which car it would crash into. In Jenkintown PA, old ladies would tip me dollar bills like I was a stripper. Many people do not realize that piano players do get paid and that not all musicians outdoors play for tips. They would stuff dollar bills down my pants while coping a feel while I was playing. Some would offer me a dollar like they were offering Boner a treat. continued...

January 25, 2007

Pennsylvania

TripleAAA warned me not to drive in Mexico or the banditos would get me. I assured them that they would never get my piano because it is bolted into the truck! I asked them if driving in Iraq would be ok. I am very much looking forward to my introducing Boner to the world while creating music for people to discover throughout the US and Mexico. February 9th will be the start date after I re-group from the Philadelphia International Car Show Black Tie Gala performance. Ahh... one day at a black tie gala the next day in the mud of poverty. I want to give everything I have to offer to the world on as many levels as possible.

!Flashback! ... continued. supermarket openings... I performed many times for Acme supermarkets in sub freezing temperatures. I would notice the difference in neighborhoods from the coats women wore. Imagine a supermarket where all the women are wearing fur coats. It would be so cold I watched my fingers gloss over while they flew across the piano keys. As the temperature dropped, my hands would sting more. As long as I kept my body bouncing and fingers moving, I could keep going. I remember having a booger freeze in my nose while I played. People would drive by talking on their cell phones and roll their windows down to let whomever they were talking to listen to me play. It was the only way they could prove to others what they were seeing was real. I would watch people jiggling their asses using the rhythm of the music to distract themselves from the cold while trying to get their car keys in the door lock. I felt like a fully stuffed Krispy Cream donut with all the clothes I wore to stay warm as I thought about the free ones being given away inside. I played in blinding snow, rain, and blowing sleet. I would pull the truck in under the store overhangs and pray the wind would stay in the opposite direction to shelter me from the storm. It always did. continued...

January 24, 2007

Pennsylvania

!Flashback! There were several years where I did many grand reopenings/restructuring promotions for Acme supermarkets. I relied on many visuals to stay interested because I was often performing for a passing audience with the agenda of running in and out of the stores with packages, shopping carts and car keys in hand. I pulled from many natural happenings that I would choreograph with my Ragtime and Boogie Woogie music to stay interested. Sometimes it was not easy because there was nothing around and when I was booked for eight in the morning there were few people. I was usually "it" for these promotions. They put their entire outside budget in me, so I needed to create all of the outside excitement, sound, wonder, visual newness and freshness for the site. This was a big task for little old Boner and me but it was successful and lasted until they were finished opening all of the stores. continued...

January 23, 2007

Pennsylvania

The moments are ticking by. Where is the music? In the picture today I am performing outside the elf house somewhere near Roblito, Mexico. I am visualizing it. I am looking forward to being inspired with constantly changing environments. I want to create some terrific musical recordings with it all. I wish I owned a piano to play on in my house! I feel stuck in my house without a piano! Just a few more weeks and I will be introducing Boner to the world through my music on the Traveling Piano truck known to by many as the Raggin' Piano Boogie truck. I know it is all confusing or people. Me too. I would go into a restaurant that has a piano and offer to give them some of my music but I know it would not work. I tried that last year. I went into three center city hotels and two restaurants and got attacked with basically, "get out of here you wanna be." Ha, little did they know they could have had some music that usually costs. It took a lot of nerve for me to put myself out to gift them and accept the disrespect. It ain't happenin' again that is for sure. There is a place in Quakertown, PA I know but that is just a little too far away for me. Maybe, if I start jonsin' enough... who knows I might end up there by the end of the week. Does anyone want me to come play some improvisation on his or her piano for bout a half hour?

January 22, 2007

Pennsylvania

Today I am having difficulty holding on to the dream because... just because. I miss going outside and creating music everyday. I only started to do this improvisational playing a year ago and this is my first cold season so I am feeling my way through it. I do not want to book performances, I just want to play but then how do I pay the bills? I have zero desire to take less then I am worth financially for a booking. So I must stay true to my gut feeling that my needs for financial support will materialize. It is very cold out but that is not why I have not go out today to play. I have been preparing for my journey and there is so much to be done. I must find a way to attract financial support as well as people to help me. It seems to be my karma to not see support that is right in front of my face or when does exist I am blind because I do not feel it? I know it is all around me. Trust is the name of the game. Playing music helps me to trust. I will find a way until I am playing every day... is coming soon... Feb 9th.

January 21, 2007

Pennsylvania

I can see the creation of my Wildest of Dreams happening. Today I publish a picture of my playing the piano with Bo in Roblito, Mexico. The place is so small it is not even on most maps. Hahahahehehehe... The main goal for this Journey, I still need a name for it... is to introduce Boner to the world. Next, I want to create music for communities and play the piano for people who have never had the opportunity to see a piano player perform live and also to give them the opportunity to create some music via the piano for themselves. This will happen without question while traveling to and through villages in Mexico as well as at home. My joy over this thought is bombastic. I am throwing my desires, ambitions and needs for this Wildest Dream of mine into the world... more specifically on Message Links of my website. I started to create them last night. Everyone who wants to be part of this adventure will now not only be able to come along with Boner and I as it unfolds via the daily performance log link, now also via the message boards. My goal is to share musical joy and purpose, to musically empower and inspire. This is my journey and it is for everyone to share in... or maybe just for one other person in this world who wants to be nurtured with my reality. The more the better. I am realizing more each day that instead of giving the world the result of a life accomplishment... I am giving the world the process of a successful life accomplishment; mine... and in the moment. This is a very cool realization for me and brings my life into a full circle. Also, my feeling of commitment, trust and faith of self... is amazing for me to experience. I am at full throttle...

January 20, 2007

Pennsylvania

Josh came to my place today to help and lend his support. He is a twenty one year old wiz with truck repairs/rebuilding and electrical stuff, anything he can get his hands on to work with. He works at the local radio shack and was more than willing to share his knowledge and service with his free time. I am going to be set for this journey, I can feel it. This is because of people like Josh. The village in Mexico that I will be driving to with the traveling piano truck is almost 3000 miles away. I was given two routes the highway and the byways. I will be taking the byways so I can stop at as many small villages as possible. We went to the music store to check on equipment and someone who has seen my postings online came up and said, "did I see you on tribe (a great online community) the other day? He was quick to be as helpful as possible. I thought, "this is amazing, at the Franklin Mills Mall I meet up from someone in the international community of tribes? We brought different speakers from inside the store to the outside so we could test them on the truck and I ended up getting a bombastic new speaker to use with an equalizer. People have been telling me to get one of these equalizers for years and finally... I wanted to test the speakers all day because I could not tear myself away from creating music. That fact that is was like twenty degrees out side with heavy winds did not matter. I have not had much opportunity to play for several days and with other people to share my music with, I was not going to miss the opportunity. I also purchased an electrical inverter to convert the boat battery energy for usage. Total... ruffly $700

January 19, 2007

Pennsylvania

My life is a performance. I am preparing for my journey to introduce my dog Boner to the world, and to create and share my music with the world while having as much life experience as possible. Join me on this trip. Did you donate yet? How about doing some networking? Ask, I'll tell you what I need. So far, I am heading first for El Roblito, which is near the borders of Nayarit and Sinaloa in Mexico http://www.solomax.com/roblito.html Then I will drive on up to Los Angles, California and then across country back to Philadelphia. I made the decision today to take only one sound speaker. If I take both speakers that would mean every time I play I would need to set them up on the poles and it would be to cumbersome with the small amount of room I have in the truck. The Traveling Piano truck is a small pickup. I will have room for two changes of clothes, two month's supply of Gatorade, brochures, my communication equipment, yoga mat, personal supplies, a blanket, boner's food and not much more. Yikes! The bottom line about the speakers is that I will not be able to take on any professional gigs throughout the entire trip because I would need the lift and sound capabilities of both speakers to do that. It ain't going to happen so at least that is one detail and decision set in place. All performance and music will be without cost for everyone. I'll have one speaker lying in the truck bed. I think that is pretty cool because my music has been all about money in the past. It has had to be... because that is my work, how I pay the bills. For now, it will be about giving and love all around. I truly believe the money will come later on. I need to do this first.

January 18, 2007

Pennsylvania

I believe in the power of dreams. I am out to show that dreams do come true. I am going to show that fact for my life. My piano guts are presently torn apart. This is only a temporary setback but I do miss playing outside everyday. It has affected my well being as I have an enormous about of energy that needs to be discharged constantly. Creating music has been such a wonderful release and discharge of energy for me. With my upcoming journey will afford a lot of time to communicate musically and discharge, it is what the journey is all about, love, communication, sharing but most importantly, having a good time. Fun and inner happiness... the fuel of success.

January 17, 2007

Pennsylvania

I have always known about the law of attraction from as early as I can remember. I kept it a secret as a child because I knew everyone around me would ridicule me and the concept. Now I am experiencing it in mind, body and soul. As I was walking with Boner today I kept laughing with joy about it. The piano truck will be out of commission for the next few days again, well today... I am thinking about the performance of my life, as this is my performance log. I am so thankful that music is a part of my life and my dog also. He is the present catalyst for my upcoming musical performances. I am going to drive to LA via Mexico from its belly... from my home in Philadelphia to introduce Boner to the world before he retires and to create music throughout the process... for free to whomever wants it. Yeah! Ha! Yaa. Whoo!!! God, I am having fun. I read a great ditty today. "Not all who wander are lost." - Tolkein. Yep, I'll agree with that. Tomorrow I am going to publish the law of attraction as it relates to me concerning money and security... if I remember.

January 16, 2007

Pennsylvania

I woke up today with the reminder that I am an inclusive person, I welcome everyone into my life. I do it for the basic purpose of creating a connection. Any resulting relationships are gifts to me. I connect with people for therapeutic reasons, theirs, fun, mine or to bond with comforting dysfunction, or to explore new possibilities of life experience. I was thinking I might be a leader. I definitely nurture well and then my thinking settled on the fact that I have always been and always will be a teacher. As I embark on my present musical journey across the country, I want to communicate and express all of the above specifically through my music. Music will be my safety net. Music will be my communication vehicle. Music will be the tool I will use to bond with people and life on every level. The piano is torn apart in the garage today, the complete electrical system needs to be overhauled enough to keep me going. It will be too cost prohibitive to replace. I am wondering, I thought more than a couple of people would be interested enough to "gift " along with me financially and with volunteer help. I guess there is still some time , like two weeks?

January 15, 2007

Pennsylvania

The idea for me to drive to Roblito on the boarder of Nayarit and Sinaloa Mexico to play the piano on the back of a pickup truck came my way last night... very strongly. It came from a phone call, a friend who will be creating a cultural exchange community there while staying at a small fishing village for the next three months. It came after my thinking it might not be a good idea to drive to Alaska in the winter. Who would be outside to play for? It becomes clearer everyday that I should be outdoors creating music for people to discover.

Today was grey and cloudy and ready to rain but I needed to play for my mental health no matter what... so I drove to the river access area near my house. One person was there but as soon as I began to play the park started to fill up. This seemed unusually interesting especially for a rainy day. I was glad to experience today's visual, the mist creating shades of grey while rolling across the river, the starkness of the dark bare trees surrounding me, a tugboat trolling up the river, kids running around from the musical energy with their grandparents trying to catch them. One little guy kept coming over to offer me some of the tangerine he was eating. I had to let Boner down from the piano to play with everyone... they all wanted him to join them and that is what he wanted too. My camera batteries were dead. Damm.

I had several what I call synchronistical spiritual experiences today that validated and reassured me concerning my present calling in life. The guy I wrote about on the food/health website link from December 8th came into my path again today at the park. He reminded me of how important desire is in my life. How amazing that was!!! A woman who has seen me perform before also appeared with her grandchildren and she started talking about Mexico's boarder with Southern California and that whole political issue. Turns out the guy, once a young piano prodigy who lost a finger in an accident, volunteers to spread the word of the bible to kids in prisons. I found myself creating a musical soundtrack behind the stories these people while they talked about their lives. I thought, "your good at this musical background stuff." It was really amazing as I witnessed two very passionate people voicing their experiences and concerns, one completely political and the other completely religious. Here is something even more syncronistically amazing... we ended our exchange in a circle holding hands. Two of the boys, CJ and Shawn came into the circle and we all prayed together. Complete strangers in a park a man, a woman, two young boys and a piano man who was playing the piano on the back of a pickup truck with a dog hanging out on top of the piano, standing in a circle praying aloud. Now that... was a missed photo opportunity. I am completely aware that I had invited this experience into my space. Chezzzzzzzzzz.

That was not the end of it. I came home feeling surprisingly not grounded spiritually as I had just been given a major dose of hard core bible thumping and dare I say predjudice? I decided to take a walk to release some insecurity and as I walk to the end of my driveway, a car pulls up along side of me at the bottom of the driveway. I naturally moved towards the car as it felt like someone I knew. They rolled the window down and asked me if I knew directions to a local steak house. They were lost. I thought, "how did they get lost into this development"? Then the woman says, "hey, I know you!" It took a few moments and it dawned on me this was a person who's path I have crossed many times over the last twenty-five or so years. It is difficult to explain to a layperson our connection. We do not really know each other, but we really know each other. We have something major in common. A spiritual path that I feel completely grounded in using. It is built on the principals of the twelve steps. Our paths have crossed in Center City Philadelphia, Glenside Pennsylvania and the State of New Jersey but in front of my house???!!! Nothing in life has ever been so gratifying or will ever compare to the synchronistic spiritual reassurance and validation "groundings" that I receive. This gift is available to everyone, my trick is to see, acknowledge and share it when it happens in order to keep it happening. Sometimes I see these gifts, sometimes I do not. When I do... WOW.

So, what does this have to do with performing daily? My music comes through the ability to ground myself spiritually.


January 14, 2007

Pennsylvania

It is presently raining outside. When I begin the cross-country trip, I hope to have someone to guide me away from oncoming rain territories. How about you? ... Flashback! I've performed for the Warminster, PA Memorial Day Parade for almost twenty years. One year recently, the organizers got caught up in the media hype and fear that an oncoming rainstorm was going to destroy the world so they cancelled the parade. The day turned out to be beautiful and I turned out at the parade check writer's house to get paid because I was not the one that cancelled. I needed to pay my mortgage. Thanks to our terrific relationship, they honored our contract. The next year it was the same deal with the rain threats except that the parade went on as scheduled. Half way through the route it began to rain... hard. I thought, "shit, they paid me last year and I did not get paid yet this year I must be a trouper and finish this parade no matter what, I need to keep up my end of the bargain and I also need to get paid." Mind you, I am thinking this all the while jumping around on the piano seat whaling away at my Boogie Woogie music while screaming at and acknowledging the crowd that is starting to pull out umbrellas and tarps for themselves. The wind began to blow ferociously and the rain became torrential and I thought, "die, die, die truck and piano, I can't take this anymore." They I thought, "Get real, what can you do?" Everything was already soaking so that was nothing to be done to stay dry. The truck has a black tarp over it for travel. I told Boner to get off the piano and he was more than happy oblige. He ran under the piano bench in the back of the truck to hide from the chaos. I jumped up and in a matter of a minute covered the speakers that were on poles in the air with plastic trash bags and threw the black canvas tarp over the piano and myself and continued on with my performance. "This was so amazingly ridiculous and clever that its fun," I thought as I continued with my job of performing. I thought, "stay visual, they need to see you even though you are under the canvas". I began to over animate my movement with the music. The visuals from the sidelines must have been very funny indeed. Everyone was ecstatic that I was being a trouper and going on with the show. The visual of this wild and loud music coming from a wild, bouncing piano man underneath a black canvas cover was very funny. The fact that they all knew who I was just added to it. The sounds of my music along with the heavy rain hitting the canvas and the amazing screaming of spectators from the outside cheering me on... who cared if I was soaking wet and the equipment was destroyed, I was living life in the moment and it was fantastic. And look... I'm still going...

January 13, 2007

Pennsylvania

I have been getting my house and business in order to be ready to leave on my trip across the country to create music and to introduce Boner to the world. I am concerned on every level because I had hoped for more support. I am still doing it no matter what. It was a calling that I have had and I am going to follow through with it whether it lasts four hours, four months or four years. I have been feeling angry and I wonder if it is because I have not been out creating music. Every time I went out to play today, it began to spit rain. An opportunity of dryness presented myself so I went for it. After about twenty tries, the truck started and I drove to the middle school by my house. I have never been there before because it seemed so visible. I did not care today, it was at dusk and cloudy so no one would notice my parking in the middle of the lot with apartments on both sides and Humeville road in front of me. I was not looking for any attention I just wanted to express some music. There were two kids playing basketball nearby who slithered away after I arrived. I think the sight of a dog on top of a piano in the back of a truck with a piano man creating music scared them away. The piano batteries are no longer taking a charge so I must keep the engine turned on while I play. Oh well, whatever it takes. I will need to get a new Isolator, inverter and two batteries. That is a couple of grand from the house sale that will probably happen when I return. I thinking I will not have the room to take along both of my speakers, as I may need to sleep in the back of the truck, Oh My God... (I tried sleeping in the cab last year and it did not work, both Bo and I were both miserable) so this means no job bookings while on the road because I will not be able to supply the sound needed. Won't this be fun? I think so. If nothing else... it will be what it will be... and that will be... good enough :)

January 12, 2007

Pennsylvania

!Flashback! While traveling in Europe some years ago I made the acquaintance of a really fantastic Boogie Woogie guy and invited him to come over here to America to play on the Raggin' Piano Boogie truck. Even though he spoke no English and did not understand a word of it... I was game for his visit. Unfortunately I found out this guy did not have a sense of humor so the visit was more difficult than I had anticipated. He arrived during a booking I had for the Annual Ocean City New Jersey Doo Dah Parade. This is an event to celebrate the end of the tax season and the idea is to be as ridiculous as possible about it. The guy, his name was Christoph, drove for me in the parade and then performed on the truck afterwards. The parade route is through the cities streets and then up and onto then along the boardwalk for about twenty blocks to the music pier. There are many strange sights for this parade every year and it was the first sights of America for this first time visitor. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. He did not think it was funny. He considered Boogie Woogie music very serious and thought that America was making a mockery of itself disrespectfully. How could I possibly be presenting this music with fun abandonment! For him the music should have been and needed to be controlled and worshiped, serious abandonment with full attention. So much for that enriching experience... I say sarcastically. I did have an interesting experience for myself from it. I was in awe when this guy played. I became spellbound, he was the real thing. Some of the other spectators responded in the same way, but not the majority. Someone came up to me and said, "I like your playing better". I thought, "what are you crazy?" I thought about that for weeks until I realized that people listen to music for different reasons and have different experiences. Some people listen to music to hear what they expect; they get comfort from the predictability, reassurance and validation of what they know. Other people listen more to the performer, they draw from the personality, the spirit and energy being presented through the music. So I realized I can jump on the truck and mess up all I want for the people who experience my spirit they could care less about the notes. I do not impress the people with expectations concerning notes very much. Then there are those who just want to enjoy an experience, so maybe they find a little of both ways and also twist of their own to make it work for everyone.

January 11, 2007

Pennsylvania

!Flashback! What would I do without friends to remind me of my past? An old friend, Barbara sent me a note today in the mail to say hello. Barbara is an event producer who got my phone number from the back of the Raggin' Piano Boogie truck while driving down the road back in the early days. She called me to learn what I was about and a few weeks later, I was playing indoors with the truck for an event expo in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. This was back in... I think it was 1988. The expo was held in what was then the hottest disco around. It was off of Route 1, south of Philadelphia and it was called Pulsations. The place became even more famous in later years for being a strip club. It is all gone now. Back to the disco... we put wood planks on the outside steps of the nightclub and VERY carefully started to drive the truck up the steps. No one knew if the wood would break or not. It broke. Luckily, it was on the first step. We readjusted everything and tried again with success. We then drove the truck into the dance club and onto the dance floor where I performed under the disco ball. It takes a certain kind of person with a certain fun like hutzpah to follow through with an idea like this was. Harrah for Barb!

January 10, 2007

Pennsylvania

!Flashback! It is such a cold day I thought I would bring back some memories of playing on the boardwalk in Seaside, New Jersey. I was hired for about six Wednesdays one summer. Most shore resorts with a boardwalk create a theme for everyday of the week. I think I was the theme for Wednesdays the summer I was booked because there was no other entertainment. They must have spent the entire budget on me. That meant more fun; I could really give them their money's worth. I played the entire length of the boardwalk. Workers from the store booths would yell as I passed every night, "here, here... stop here and play." I always would. Older Italian guys would yell smirkerly and with a roughness, "hey... peeaannnnist". Store tenants would fight in front of me as to who would get me for their spot. One of the guys from inside an arcade booth took a break and jumped over the counter to drive the truck as I played and we slowly moved through the tight corridors of the arcade area. The crowds moved along with me tight with the sides of the truck and the booths were less than six feet away on both sides. Sometimes we had to stop to lift an awning to get by. As I passed game booths, vendors would try to get me to play between the songs. They would toss me balls to throw from the truck to try and hit the bottles set in a row and through the hooped baskets so I could win a stuffed animal. I experienced creative imagery for my music from kids who were playing volleyball under the night lights on the sand. I would watch the moving chair rides glide by from above with dangling feet as I performed. I would drive by open hotel doors and smell the familiar, transient feel of summer at the beach. Can you smell feelings? Specifically with one hotel, I remember the lady working the desk and the door. She was kind of ratty looking from a long life of working the same job every summer. She reminded me of a Carol Brunette caricature with her big, round, thick, black, 60's glasses and red hair.

January 09, 2007

Pennsylvania

!Flashback! The Philadelphia International Car show is coming. I have performed for their Black Tie Gala opening for the last eight years, in fact I would be traveling across the country right now but the show really wanted me and I have a lot of fun every year. First, it is always fun to take the truck indoors and drive it through the aisles of the Philadelphia Convention center to get to my performance spot. Everyone makes me feel important and all are always very helpful and glad to see Bo and I. "It's the Piano Man and Piano Dog. How are ya"! My sound is connected to the main speakers so I always need to be aware of what I am creating musically for people walking around on other floors and in the hallways, everyone hears the music. I go early and spend the day trying to polish up my 1987 Toyota pickup with 200,000 miles on it... so it looks better than all the other cars on display. Cough...cough...cough. The first year we put the truck in the elevator to lift it to the second floor. It fit within inches. The second year I had my first paparazzi experience. I was front and center as the doors opened and the media flashed their cameras at me for a good minute and a half. It was major excitement. When my performance is done I always walk around for my own private showing, how cool is that. One of my favorite aspects of the event which is a fundraiser for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is the fact that just about every element of society is represented as in people who are loaded with money and prestige, to priests and nuns, to regular neighbors of mine who have never worn a tuxedo before, to people who usually work the streets, to presidents of big companies, the governor, mayor, students, kids, business people there to work the room networking in everyway imaginable, singles out to create a hookup... and since everyone is dressed up nobody knows who is who. It is all about having a good time for a good cause.

January 08, 2007

Pennsylvania

!Flashback! I was thinking about my first year and tips. I have had a tip jar out recently and I remember saying that I have never before played for tips. Well, I have remembered that did play for tips and it was during my first year. It was for a Super Sunday on the Parkway event in Center City Philadelphia. Back in 1987, this event was big as in hundreds of thousands of people! I remember being hesitant because the organizers would not pay me. I guess I was not worth any money to them. Well... duh. I decided to do it anyway and I set my piano bench up in the back of the truck with a sign saying, "Tip The Piano Player". A guy walked by and yelled, "Hey Tip, how are ya doin'?" To this day, I have no idea why I find that so funny but I still do. I guess I like plays on words and clever thinking. Anyway, doing the gig without pay turned into a lot of fun with my picture the next morning front page and center in the Philadelphia Inquirer. It was a large picture! I did not get any work from it but I will never forget the glee of seeing myself on the front page of a big newspaper for the first time. I went back the next year and it was not as much fun. I still did not get paid and it rained. I tried playing in the rain, I do not know why, but I do remember the water was so bad the keys splashed when I hit them. The piano dried out after a few days and continued to work but only for the rest of the year. I guess I wanted to see what would happen from playing the piano in the rain.

January 07, 2007

Pennsylvania

Todays priority is to get a grip on my paperwork and the fact that I am leaving for who knows how long... to who knows were... with who knows what money... to create music and lift the spirits of people in towns across the country on February 9th! Yep... Yikes... so my musical venue today is on the keyboard in my house because I must play everyday I can, to keep the commitment I have made to myself. Then again I may fail at this commitment now and then. I hope I get some help soon.

January 06, 2007

Pennsylvania

Boy, what a roller coaster of energy I was today. Is started out just ok and then fell to having so little energy I could barley push forward to play physically or think. I was waiting for a newspaper reporter, we had made an appointment and after we met, my energy was soaring so much that I had to created music and cold not stop. I started another conversation with a guy who had seen me perform when he was fifteen and he is now twenty. I felt a mutual a mutual karma thing going and after our conversation and his jumping onto the piano to try it out, my energy level was totally out of this world.



I cannot quite put my finger on what feels so good about Chestnut Hill. I realize that I am only seeing the surface but I have seen many surfaces in my time and I know "good surface". I was wondering, "Is the feeling coming from the fact that I am constantly running into people I have known in the past?" I a have been creating music on Germantown Avenue and everything always seems to always be in harmony even when the emergency vehicles fly by with sirens. I thought, "maybe I am truly experiencing an integrated and well functioning community for the first time.". I have been observing an incredible amount of interaction with the people, the traffic, the buildings, the street, the business's... the dogs... I have never seen so many dogs and so many varieties of dogs... and they are ALL well behaved! I have yet to see a group of kids, bored, hanging around or looking for something as I have seen in malls, on other street corners or in the parks. These kids are relating to the street, to the businesses, other people and families, hundreds of small families heading for the nearby playground with parents who are constantly interacting with children, friends, neighbors... hooking up with each other. It seems that everyone was out today taking a walk on the avenue. I was wondering... does real hometown American neighborhoods like this appears to be... really exist? In any case, my music and I fit well into this town's landscape. That is because it is accepted and respected. I have been creating music here for weeks now and have had nothing but a one hundred percent positive response. I have dealt with no complaining or bad attitude from anyone and this is a first. Cool!

January 05, 2007

Pennsylvania

It is raining today. I hoped it would so I could get some needed work at home done. Unfortunately I am dragging my feet but they are not dragging so much that I would miss writing another !flashback! I My first New Years Eve performance for Providence, Rhode Island's First Night about ten years ago. So much happened that night that I am just going to list some of the visuals that come to mind. Three feet of snow... forty-nine mile per hour winds... 13 degrees... a children's parade with fifteen foot high puppets... hundreds of red sequined dancers in cleated shoes surrounding the Raggin' Piano Boogie truck with choreographed tapped dancing to my music... driving around the city and sliding on ice into performance parking spots... my own private overnight parking spot in an empty city parking lot garage... a cool hotel room in the center of town... my music being used as the sound track for the fireworks with me performing in the middle of a crowd of 40,000 New Years Eve revelers... the mayor thanking me personally for the crowd on the city steps... scarf, hat, ear muffs, glasses, gloves with the finger tips cut off, thermal underwear, heating pads under my "tush"... Boner with two sweaters on, paw mitts and scarf... my running Boner in and out of buildings for warm up breaks... the search and find of the guy who was to film and take pictures but forgot to because he was so drunk from partying... lines of frozen people waiting to get into concerts and shows and crowds making a run for the next venue after a show. We all had so much fun, they invited me back the next year. Boy, oh boy was that a fun night!!!

January 04, 2007

Pennsylvania

The weather has really been good to me. What a beautiful and sunny, winter day to be playing the piano outside of O' Doodles toy store on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Today was he first day I felt like those who wanted to create music on the piano were taking time away from my own piano playing time. I actually had an impulse to say, "ok enough, get off, it's my turn, I wanna play some." HaHaHa... I think that is quite funny! Several little munchkins brought me a lot of joy today as they bobbed around on the sidewalk. The store had their bubble machine working and the kids would dance and jump around to my music while trying to catch the bubbles. One mom lifted her little boy up to watch me play. We locked eyes and I watched his stare turn into a big smile for me. Another little girl about six years old walked and yelled Yeaaaa! On a break, I chased Boner around in circles, inside the toy store, as we played our "catch me game" in and out of the toy racks. When I left, I formed a visual of what that must have looked like. "Oh my God the fifty one year old piano man is running around inside the toy store playing "catch me if you can" with his dog." On the way home I was treated for the second night, for the entire ride, to an enormously huge, bright and full moon with a backlight of clouds.


January 03, 2007

Pennsylvania

I am officially courting Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia, PA. I want to give to them and I hope they embrace what I have to offer. The people who have experienced my music, my passion and spirit and of course Boner the Piano Dog... they appreciate and respect. So, I continue to go back to this place everyday to hopefully integrate the Traveling Piano with the community at large. I am coming down with something like an infection in my throat from New Years eve but once I began creating music I had to make myself stop, I just wanted to keep going, going, going... I was enjoying myself. I also enjoyed the many people who played today I wish I could put all their pictures up on the website. I experience a lot of smiling faces having fun the entire time I am there. I watched the sweetest duet I did not know if they were brother and sister or boy friend, girl friend I just knew they loved each other and showed it through their musical experimentation together. I visited a nearby neighbor Tina and she gave me some fresh squeezed orange juice, a vitamin C tablet and some zinc for whatever I am coming down with. The street was finished with its holiday rush and quieter so I felt at ease to simply practice like I would in a park by myself. On the way home I experienced the brightest and fullest moon with a background of moonlit clouds. I wanted to create music for the moon.

January 02, 2007

Pennsylvania

!Flashback! My second Philadelphia Mummers parade. Some guy from one of the fancy divisions called me to lead his group down the street and we went back and forth over my availability for several weeks. I had to be there at six in the morning and I remember thinking, "these guys are crazy doing this so early in the day" but it was not early for them as they had not yet been to bed. It was still New Years eve to them. When I arrived, the guy said to me, "I changed my mind, we don't need you, you can go home". I said, "You must be kidding, go home? We decided we don't need you? You're not going to pay me???" I told him to get a grip and pay up immediately... upfront, that I was not going home. "I'm doing this parade after you made me come down here." I was pissed. I had to get crazier than him to scare him into following through. I was ready, willing and able to create a major scene for my having to wake up at 5:00 AM on New Years morning to drive down into center city in performance mode. It was not a small task for me to achieve. He paid me. My friend John was to drive and he was nervous. We were to parade up Market street, the first time ever for the Mummers on this route through the city. We were to make a right turn at city hall and then do a circle in the middle of the street at the next corner for the television cameras and spectators in the stands. I was siked. As we made the first turn, my friend John got mixed up and thought the television cameras were on us. He started to circle the truck in the street right at that spot. There was nothing happening at this spot as John kept circling in the street waiting for someone to tell him to stop. I didn't know what the hell was going on, I just kept playing. Someone ran down from the end of the street and started yelling Go, Go, Go... and John thought we were done and sped right through the spectators and television cameras. I missed the climax of the first time I did this parade and once again this time. As we sped by the cameras and spectators I saw them all rising from the benches on the sides to greet us but we were gone by the time they put their hands together.

January 01, 2007

Pennsylvania

I woke up in the middle of the afternoon still hung over from last night's performance. So today will be a !Flashback! Ahh... yes I remember it well, the old days and performing in my first Philadelphia Mummer's parade on New Years day. I was majorly excited because as a child I used to watch these parades in person and on television ever year. As a young adult, I would always attend the parades but I never watched them because I was so trashed from the night before. I remember standing as a spectator in the crowds without a worry of falling down drunk because I was so crammed in with other spectators it would have been impossible. The performance, I was sober at the time was in the late eighties or early nineties I can't remember exactly. I was there to perform and make my first demo tape. I don't remember how I got into the parade I think I crashed it. No one in the parade would have known the difference as all the mummers I was around were trashed from the night before and preoccupied with staying trashed. I had to ask them not to pee on my truck. It is a different world today I think the parade became wholesome. A friend I had met the night before drove for me. This Mummer's parade was the period where I had just transitioned from my acoustic piano to a sample grand piano which I had sitting on a bench. I stood when I played. I was enjoying the increased sound I was getting from m new keyboard, you heard the real piano sound but it was obvious I was playing a keyboard. I was hyped because I had just come off a major diet and was thin and handsome. Boner my dog was not around yet. People were going crazy as we road down Broad Street but the major crowds that I wanted to capture for the demo tape were near City Hall. The guy videotaping me had a great sense of catching the humor and ridiculousness of the situation but alas one half a block before all the major crowds began the piano died and I just coasted the truck to the side of the road. With all the potential gone, my jaunt ended without a climax.