HIS SPIRIT LIVES ON! ... BONER, THE PIANO DOG ... November 27, 1994 ... February 20, 2010
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March 31, 2008
Living consciously has its responsibilities! Fighting those responsibilities by letting old thoughts and emotion into my world is how I spent my day. This resulted in "a deep mind fog" for me. Conscious reality of family relationships, time, self-imposed limitations, attachments... man, sometimes it can become difficult to function, but here I am living life still... as in it feels like not with very much movement. The month of March on this website has been about the last two years with the Traveling Piano. It ends today with picture visualizations of my present plan... to ship the Traveling Piano truck with Boner and myself to China to be at the World Olympics. I have been on a mission to have the World meet Boner before he retires (Bo is now thirteen) so what better place to have the World meet Boner than in China at the World Olympics! Boner has no other agenda except to be part of life, have fun and share his joy... me too. I want to enjoy life together with him as much as possible while he is still around. Eight months is the time span that has come to mind to gift the rural Chinese countryside's with our musical fun, friendship and respect. I have no idea why I picked that time frame. After China, the plan is return to the United States and continue throughout rural as well as urban American areas starting in Alaska. That would be great!
I have been creating visualizations of the Traveling Piano in China for a year now. I believe in the power of visualization. I believe in the power of unconditional giving. How to give unconditionally in a successful way can become tricky if I think about it too much. I believe in the power of happiness and fun. Over the last two years, I have accepted myself in a completely new way, with a renewed ability to feel humility and gratitude for life. Before, I used to accept whatever life brought to me from an unconscious mind. Now I allow life to be created through me with my conscious mind. As I do that, I experience a tremendous amount of validation with how life works along with spontaneity and happiness. I used to operate without choice, things happened to me. Now, for better or worse I am in full realization of who is creating whatever happens to me.
So I have a plan. It may not happen, it may happen. My job is to enjoy the process, the journey of the plan. It does not mean I am not serious when I say it might not happen. I am willing to let go of everything that I am attached to in order to achieve this goal and I am in the active process of doing that. This is serious! My plan last year was to get Boner to Hollywood and onto a national television show. That is how I planned for the world to meet him. It never happened, something better happened. Now we shall see what happens with this new plan. I am in an experiment with living life to the fullest.
Today I realized a misinterpretation for myself. It had to do with fear. I was feeling totally alive, conscious, and present, in the moment and I was labeling the energy and the feeling as fear! My immediate thoughts, experiences and feelings were overwhelming me and I was telling myself that I was full of anxious fear! In a moment of conscious awareness I said to myself, "This is the same energy, the same feeling you had when you were on the road with Katrina and also last year in Mexico and throughout America. You are not in fear Danny. You in the moment, present with the fullness of life and your telling yourself the feeling is fear. What I was feeling was total consciousness of mind. The space of reality where I can choose anything I want. Where I can either go with the flow of amazing creation or grab onto complacent physical realities and thought structures that no longer work for my life.
March 30, 2008
There are these two guys, Matt and Joe, emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if i would help make an event they were creating special. Matt is an elementary school teacher, both guys are local soccer coaches in Perkasie, Pa. They heard about a young boy in the neighborhood named Joseph... in first grade, and undergoing six weeks of radiation and forty eight weeks of chemotherapy as a result of a malignant brain tumor. They created a community fundraising event to help support Joseph and his family. There must have been 600 people at this 5K run. I played and let all the kids have at it with the piano all day long... while everyone signed in, the start point, at the turn around point and then afterwards for the awards. I love letting people loose with abandon on the piano.
I did not get a chance to meet Joseph at the event so Matt, Joe and I drove to his house afterwards. Boner had not yet met Joseph! Even though this boy is shy of dogs he got up onto the piano and we had a short time for him to play a note and get a few pictures with his mom and dad. I could feel worth, maturity and exhaustion from Joseph and in the few minutes we spent together he affected my life with love. He's the little guy on my lap in the top picture. He's only in first grade! So here's an idea... if you do not feel moved to contribute to the Traveling Piano how about dropping a few bucks in Joseph's direction!!! Just do it! You can find out all about and help him at the following link: Friends of Joseph
I was really in the "zone" today. That mean's everything... takes a second seat to playing and sharing the Traveling Piano. I was rushing home to give my niece some family pictures. Remember, I'm liquidating my life to help continue with the Journey of Peregrinating Musical Exploration. I was stopped... waiting at a red light and a teen runs up to the window, "Hey man, can I play on your piano"? Hahaha... I had an impulsive thought, "what is most important, danny", I had no option. The Traveling Piano takes top priority to everything! He was like, REALLY??? I pulled up to the curb. He and a bunch of his friends came running over form the Dairy Queen. We had some major fun!
March 29, 2008
This months blog is mostly a review of the last few years.
I am feeling good today, excited. I finished successfully sending out thousands of emails which is a feat to achieve... keeping everything straight not sending duplicates, avoided doing things backwards, clogging up my ISP service allotment etc... I feel really good about this because it is a sign of moving forward, being serious with action. The best part is that people are responding which is crucial for survival, immediately. Now I must shift gears a bit. For me, shifting my gears of focus has always been a challenge.
I went out to the garage to test the Traveling Piano truck and it worked. While I have been working ferociously getting items up for contribution on Boner's site, the truck has been sitting in the garage for a month. It would usually need a jump start... this truck with 200,000 miles on it. It worked! I set the piano wiring up with the speakers, all the while taking deep breaths and repeating, "easy does it danny, easy does it." The process went smooth. The truck works, the piano works, Boner works, I work... ahhh.
I wanted to take the piano out to create music in the sunlight. I had to resist BIGTIME... To do that feels amazingly natural. I'll be performing tomorrow, I must spend the rest of the day getting ready. I look forward to people jumping up into the truck to try out the piano. Yesterday I was losing my sense of desire but as soon as I sat on the piano seat today and heard the first sound I immediately became alive! I have a confidence with music today. Even though my entire life has been working as a piano player, I never had true confidence of my musical ability until two years ago when I completely accepted my abilities as... "it is what it is" ...and you know what? I'm really Good at creating music.
March 28, 2008
Some people are visiting www.bonerthedog.com and they think, What Is This? What Is This Guy Doing? What Does He Want? Who Is He? Is he looking for bookings? Is he looking for towns and venues to play in?" Sorry... I've put it all as simply as I can get. They say, "What... you are asking me for money so that you can play the piano?" YES! "You gotta be kidding, you want me to give you money so you can go out and have fun?!" That is the idea. That is how to live life, WORK should be fun, eh? One more... "Is this like some cyber-pan-handling?" www.bonerthedog.com Cheezz, here is some creepy information, I used to be a guy who would react and ask these same questions. Now I'm on the other side of the fence!!! I am so glad to be batting for a more positive team these days. Some people do not like their comfortable, complacent associations messed around with, their ideas that musicians should be starving, piano players that are supposed to be playing for $2 tips (which was back in the 1940's) and God Forbid... a street musician who is actually successful performing on the street??? Hahahaha.... Thank God I have a twenty year proven history! Thank you to the many people who do support the Traveling Piano I most certainly would not be Bringing the Beat to the Street without Support! Check out www.bonerthedog.com but more importantly read all about the last two years below! And, MOST importantly I hope you are entertained with it everything!
March 27, 2008
This website is growing by leaps and bounds with the photos. I can't help myself because the pictures communicate so much more than words. Sometimes I begin to doubt myself concerning the worth of what I am doing and then I see pictures like todays. I have not seen most of these because I've had no time to look at them. I put up pictures like I do the writings, I just spurt out the words and move forward.
I've had thousands of musical exchanges with people as they try out the Traveling Piano. Some people want to be left alone in there own experience, others want me to join them. People want to show me a myriad of thoughts and feelings through the exchange like, "can do" "want to enjoy opportunity" "want to connect with everything" "be part of" "satisfy curiosity" " remember somebody they love who played the piano by touching the keys themselves" ...on and on I could go.
Many people want me to sort of... hold their hands, guide them through the entire process. Others want to use the piano and music as a vehicle to express themselves physically with wild abandonment. There is special fun interacting with people who are scared shitless but do it anyway. Wanna know why thats special to me? That experience is closest to my own most of the time.
To reassure everyone there will be no negativity, judgement, to validate courage, to release some fear, to feel unconditional empowerment, to simply enjoy communication on the most basic level of being together with trust through music. How great this is. Boner has been such a catalyst for it all. I'm sure on some subconscious level many people think, "If this dog is so happy and content to sit up here and want attention without restraint, no collar, no leash... I'm inspired by that, it must be safe and ok for me too, so I want to be part of all of this!"
March 26, 2008
I did accept a few paid "gigs' last year. They by no means paid the bills even though they were large contributions. They were exceptionally large contributions... from valued and respected, long-standing relationships that I worked with, communities where I have been performing for the full twenty years of Raggin' Piano Boogie. Wow, to have lasted so many years, to have grown up with the kids, to have been able to flow with the changes... I feel really grateful for the histories that I have been able to establish with many cities and towns like Alloway, Haddonfield, Ocean City New Jersey and Quakertown, Ambler, Schyulkill Haven Pennsylvania and organizations like VFW's and Lion's clubs, etc... I did the bookings this year not for the money but for the fun, friendship and respect. I could never express the extent of appreciation I have for the support of my friends.
The transition from Raggin' Piano Boogie into the Traveling Piano has been tricky when it comes to paying the bills as I do not want to charge money for the Traveling Piano. The way that I am presently figuring it out is... when scheduling, expectation, obligation and commercial or sponsorship interests are involved I must consider the career that I have spent a life time building, my craft, talent, and the responsibilities that I take on. That is work. The Traveling Piano is more about free spirited spontaneity and unconditional gifting.
March 25, 2008
Almost everyday I am gain clarity about what I do and why, this "mission" as some people call it. On the subject of being a "do gooder"... When I do the Traveling Piano "thing".... I do not seek out troubled souls, hardships, neediness misfortune, disasters, etc... I don't seek to insert myself into those situations, not at all. Personally I have no interest in attaching myself or the Traveling Piano to negativity of any sort but when I am asked into those situations, I feel humbled and grateful and valued. I enter into them with a feeing of empowerment and inspiration. That is my job, to empower and inspire. My job is not to feel sorry for, empathize, fix, change, fill needs, etc... My job is to support, add to, create a positive distraction, be a reminder of, entertain ideas and good feelings through fun, friendship and respect. I enjoy most just "being" with people.
When I went to the Trenton New Jersey's areas flooded areas in 2006, that was after I came back from Katrina. I was not looking for needy opportunities. I was riding on the inspiration I was able to offer down South. I ended up in North Philly this year after the police guy was shot down because people were telling me how the neighborhood felt like it was in a lock down and was even more depressed than usual. Because I know all too well what fear and repression feels like, I had a personal agenda to create some release for others if possible and also... North Philly was a neighborhood that had been on my fun to do list for quite a while so I felt moved to share my, Boner and the Traveling Piano's good energy at that time. The timing was right.
Most of the Traveling Piano's experience has been the same as for Raggin' Piano Boogie. Simply fun and surprise and fun and spontaneity and fun and Boner and fun and the truck and fun and me and fun and the piano and fun, musical fun!
March 24, 2008
When I got back from Virginia Tech last year, my thoughts were that if I was going to continue with this mission of gifting the world I should begin in my own backyard by gifting my own community and neighborhood first. I decided to tie the idea in with fundraiser for the month of June and July to raise the financing needed and to also liquidate the belongings from my home. I tore down part of my backyard fence and literally drove the Traveling Piano into my back yard, put a huge banner across the front of the house with a sign welcoming people, the newspaper came, the television station came, I put out flyers and emails everywhere, it took me six hours a day just to cover and uncover all the tables. I'm not exaggerating! People would offer to help but I was a complete zero at giving direction and setting up a schedule, so I was on my own.
The result... Financially, and liquidation wise, it was a flop! I was intellectually and physically capable of going through all the actions, but emotionally deep inside I just could not let go of life as I have come to know it. You know... my home since the age of ten where I have been grounded for my whole life, the only security I have ever known... as illusional as that may be... all my possessions given to me with love.... the feelings, the representation of lifelong relationships... a place to return to after I have been away, my personal, private space...
People would drive up and park at the curb. I would turn my head away with the thought, "Oh, God please don't come over". People would ask me how much for this, how much for that? I would reply, "I don't know I have not decided yet, I have a lot more stuff to bring outside, please come back in two weeks." What an idiot I was! Yuk, ugh, I'm embarrassed but... hey, it is what it is. It's actually stupidly funny now that I look back. I was embarrassed to look back on the pictures today. I shouldn't feel embarrassed because I did a great job of creating the experience I was after for the neighborhood. I met ton's of new neighbors, lots of kids stopped by, friends, people who live in the area who I have never met, even childhood schoolmates that I had not seen for 40 years.
March 23, 2008
A wow moment from September of this year! Night time with neighbors Alex and Jackie (sweethearts )... full harvest moon ... Jackie's 18th birthday ... driving into a beautiful local cemetery ... to the back edge where a grassy field begins... Agenda: Let Alex play some music for Jackie while Bo and I go for a walk ... also ... with the moonlight, serenade them with some of my improvisational music as they sit on the back of the truck ... enter the cemetery... several cars follow us in ... I become concerned, stop and get out of the truck ... rough looking guy stops and gets out of his truck ... the other vehicles stop and people start emptying out of them ... walking towards us ... Me: what's up? ... Group: we're here to see my son's grave, it's the 1st anniversary of his death ... Me: what is his name? ... Group: Drew ... Me: How old was Drew when he passed? ... Group: 23 ...
Me: Where you guys from? ... Group: North Philly ... Me: How did Drew get buried way out here in the suburbs and how come your here in the dark? Group: His mother wouldn't let us come with the rest of the family today and she lives up here, we got here late from stopping to get something to eat ... Me: Where's Drew's grave? ... Group: You stopped your truck in front of it. Me: (think, think quick) Seem's like Drew brought me here to lift you up with some music, want me to play some piano for you guys? Group: (bewildered) sure ... Me: What kind of music does Drew like? Group: The usual, hip-hop, rap ... Me: Well, I'll play some good street Boogie for you guys ... I threw Boner on top of the piano as fast as I could and jumped into the truck, as I began to play instantly everyone began to warm up and circle around Bo petting him, immediate love filled the air. It was amazing. Me: We gotta get a picture no one will ever believe this, let's get a picture so you guys can have a remembrance of this experience too and I'll email it to you. Two weeks later they emailed me asking for the pictures. I sent them. They replied, thanking me. In all my years, do you know how many people thank me for sending their pictures? About two percent ... and here a gang from North Philly shows its appreciation.
March 22, 2008
It never ceases to amazed me with complete wonder how people of all ages, types and backgrounds respond with the opportunity to sit at the Traveling Piano. For most it is for the first time... having no idea what kind of sound will happen, unafraid to explore, experiment and play. I love to watch the connection of the spirit and mind with the piano keys... and to witness the manifestation of sound from that. I love to watch people become totally absorbed with the notes they are creating, sometimes it is only for seconds but that is enough for them to feel good. There is a spiritual reverence about it. I could never pick out three favorite pictures to depict this visual. I have more of these kind of pictures than any other. It is because I enjoy empowering people... to watch them create a personal musical experience for themselves, not for me, not for anyone else, I remove myself as far as possible from the situation, I want no distraction or interference for them. I love to inspire an environment that lacks fear, repression and judgment... for them to know what it feels like in having the freedom to create music on a piano, outside with nature, on the back of a pickup truck! it is what it is... fun, serious, stupid, dreamy, spontaneous and in the moment...whatever.
March 21, 2008
There is an element of surprise associated with the Traveling Piano, it is something different, unique, inviting. Ha, I feel like I'm going into a sell, "stop it, danny!" There are no set plans involved as to where, when or why with travel. Spontaneity is the name of the game. Spontaneity is where the joy comes from. Of course there is always a general idea, a general destination, but that is about it. Throughout rural America last year Bo and I were like "fly bys" in and out with less than forty eight hours notice both ways. One night I was invited to a weekly small community supper with an intentional community living in a hollow. At the beginning we were all in a cabin. Everyone stood in a circle holding hands as each person announced what food they had brought to the table. Afterwards we all ran outside into the dark for some music.
Another night in Little Rock, Arkansas I ended up with a group of musicians who have been getting together every week strictly to jam, for thirty years! I never knew groups like this existed and now I know they are all over the country. Of course when Boner and I show up there is musical craziness to jar everyone into a feeling of wild abandonment but then there are other experiences that create a completely different feel. For example when I am already set in a location somewhere, improvising... and people find us... out of no where. It has often been described, actually usually described... as a ethereal experience. "I heard this music in the distance, I was drawn to it." Hahaha... I get that all the time. It starts out as an intangible other than worldly experience for people. I mean, how many times does a person hear a piano playing, with a decent piano player of course :) ...in the woods or outside in the street in front of their house? Then then on top of that everyone gets the opportunity partake in the experience of continuing the creation of that ethereal feel for themselves? It is very cool.
March 20, 2008
I could write about this forever. I was heading back east to Virigina Tech last year and passed through Amarillo Texas. On the way, I put out feelers for a place to stay and two separate guys, Grayson and Tom phoned me from CouchSurfing a worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit. I was fortunate to have met these guys they felt like long time friends from the start. I stayed with Tom and he gave me his bed and took the couch for himself. That really made an impression on me. The next morning I went for a drive to play somewhere. I was heading for the local hospital with a beautiful lake and joggers in spandex, an upper crust crowd. As I drove down the road I looked to my right at what seemed like a neighborhood full of barracks and said to myself, "your not here for an upper crust crowd" so I turned off the road to check it out. I drove over some train tracks to find that I was in fact in a neighborhood that was nothing but barracks. I was in the worst part of the city. I was driving slowly down a street with my antennas up and at full attention.
A couple of guys sitting on a stoop waved hello as I passed. I thought, "what's wrong with you Danny, someone just said hello!" I put the car into reverse and backed down the street, real slow. "Hey, whats up, are there any playgrounds around here with a bunch of little kids in it?" The guy says, "we'll there's a five year old birthday party going on over there" and he points across the street. Bingo, I pulled up across the street and told the kids to get the birthday boy, the Birthday Dog was here to see him. Oh my god, oh my god what fun that was! Screaming, jumping screaming, singing, screaming, everyone getting a turn on the piano, birthday cake, free posters for everyone, pictures. Some of the men from the neighborhood walked over and did not look very friendly. They gave me a "what are you doing on our turf" feel but it only took a few minutes for them to come around and those who did not, just left. I connected with an old guy, a percussive musician, he tapped with his hands on the side of the truck while I improvised. I connected musically with this guy more than I have ever connected with a person before. I was a gift for the community but the musical connection with this guy was a gift to me. His gift to me topped my gift to them ten times over. When I got back to Tom's place, word spread like wildfire that a "whitey" crossed the railroad tracks and made it back in one piece. There is one thing I know for sure and this is from a sizable amount of experience. When my intent is good and pure no harm can come to me or anything I am closely associated with. This I know for sure.
March 19, 2008
This is Boner laying on the couch next to me today. Can we talk BORED!? Ha, the poor guy, laying around staring into the wall. He's thinking, "get me the hell out of here!" Opps... thats my thinking. We both miss interacting with people with the piano and the truck. It will come. I just passed the listing of 1600 items on www.bonerthedog.com to create the funding to move forward. The time will come...
March 18, 2008
The purpose of the Traveling Piano, the Tour of Peregrinating Musical Exploration is not only to hit up hard situations like Katrina, VT, Mexico and such, but to also gift rural America, find communities who rarely get to see a piano man play, people who have never had the opportunity to try out a piano, go to places other musicians rarely travel to. I never know where where I will end up from day to day. This has resulted in some amazing happenings. I think one happening stands out above all the others because the people I met were the most raw, down to earth, loving, full of joy, country folk yet... savvy in all ways of city folk. Last February I had a list of names from an organization named SERVAS and I called up a guy named Hector from it. I was driving through rural Tennessee. SERVAS is a wonderful international organization full of members that welcome travelers passing through town. Members invite travelers into their homes with the purpose of exchanging some cultural experience along with peace and understanding. I called this guy from my cell phone, "Hector, I'll be in your area tonight, can you host Boner and me?" He says, "well we don't have a spare room but we can set you up with a mattress and blanket in our office room, you are certainly welcome here." I was a last minute stranger calling! I cannot stop thinking about Hector, his wife and friends. They were in a town named Cookville. I was only there for about fifteen hours and most of that was through the night. I'm just going to list some memories.
Hector... 82 year old World War II Vet... organic farming, raises edible dogwood trees, canned jellies... recycling of EVERYTHING including pee (mixed with water for the plants on the porch) and poop (takes years to ripen for good fertilization)... my driving down 300 feet below sea level under a rim of a plateau in rural Tennessee to meet my hosts late at night... finding a grand piano in an old farm house and Hector performing Schubert on the piano as good as anyone would in Carnegie Hall... friendship, food... Quakers... Suzie, married to Hector for 50 years wearing a tea shirt that says (Why do we kill people... Who kill people... To show people... That killing people is wrong) ...who has forgiven and corresponds with the crack addict who murdered her daughter because she wouldn't have sex with him... creating music the next morning at a peace rally after sunday church in the town square along with people carrying signs like, "Who Would Jesus Bomb?"... Elizabeth recently in town from an Israeli kibbutz jumping on top of my piano along with a fiddle to musically jam with me... local residents stopping to play Ragtime piano music... hard core serous Vietnam peace Vets...
March 17, 2008
The Traveling Piano resulted from watching Tom Cruise jump all over Oprah's couch. I thought, "what an idiot, is he faking that?" And then I thought, "who cares, look at all that passion and desire he's able to express. He doesn't care about what people think and... he's got it all ...the girl, money, the career... he's having a ball, the time of his life!" Myself, I was turning 50 years old, alone, two hundred fifty seven pounds... again... no money, no bookings, utterly and totally completely burnt out of operating with Raggin' Piano Boogie at the level I was at, bored, lost again... sitting in my living room on my couch in a dirty tea shirt with holes in it, potato chips crumbing onto my stomach. I thought, "who's the idiot Danny, your turning 50 and going to die soon. When are you going to let it all out... all that passion and desire that you have... when are you going to release all the repression and fear that youv'e been working to release for the last twenty friggin' years! I thought, "look at that girl Oprah and her overall consistency, she looks great, she's stayed consistent in every way that I know her, she's on top of the world. You have been observing her for twenty five years, when are you going to start becoming a success with your own consistency."
It was almost the end of Oprah's Wildest Dream season but I thought, its not over until its over. I began to pursue my actual Wildest Dream. It is my wildest dream ever, the most ridiculously fun dream, so much fun for me that twenty years later I still remember it. The dream is of me streaking across the Superbowl field wailing away with some Boogie Woogie piano music for fun entertainment on my truck. This dream was just a piece of the whole picture. I began to pursue the whole picture. The whole picture can be summarized for me in one word ...FUN! Before, Raggin' Piano Boogie was all about "show me the money, respect my entertainment property, don't even think about getting on my stage to play my piano, I am a professional performer, this is work that looks like fun!"
Well, I gave up the holding back and then the Traveling Piano started to come into focus. Now it is all about fun with and for other people as well as myself. Friendship, respect, inspiration and empowerment, musical creativity, unconditional love and joy and nothing more. I am learning to accept that love and joy entertainment can be cool, rad, hip, stroking, the dope :) I am still dealing with developmental clarity concerning money and respect but as long as I keep the focus on fun, I know I am on the right track. This is what I have to offer for the world, fun. In reality the Traveling Piano is completely for the world. I am part of the world. My biggest personal issue in life is to feel part of. My strongest desire at the very core of my soul is to contribute to the world as a team player. Right now I'm shooting for China with the Traveling Piano.
March 16, 2008
While at Virginia Tech last year, in keeping with the Traveling Piano's mission it was important to include the entire community of Blacksburg, Virginia. On several days I drove throughout the town. Groups of neighbors gathered, Bo and I hung out at a local farm market one Saturday. Several musicians brought out there instruments. I remember one day in particular. I had no place to sleep for that night and was driving around looking, calling on residents who had put their names on an emergency housing list. I went into one neighborhood to a residence that was going to put us up but when I got there they declined because of something that had come up. Oh well I thought, "its getting late in the day but I refuse to worry about this." I asked if they wanted some of what we had to offer and in a few minutes the neighborhood started to gather for some musical piano fun. I was not going to miss an opportunity.
On the last day... the people I was staying with told me they could not host me another night. The truck was drenched from sitting out in the pouring rain the night before. For some reason I could not use the garage. Water had seeped in through the canvas and destroyed about four hundred Raggin' Piano Boogie posters. A friend had shipped them to me and I was giving them away to students. I was tired of looking for places to stay. School was ending and everyone was dealing with a lot of stuff. I did not want to create any burden to anyone, especially myself. I decided to quit while the going was good, said my goodbyes. Homeward we bounded. Even with the pouty face you see in the last picture, I felt very grateful, the mission had been a complete success.
March 15, 2008
I'm writing this a day late because I just couldn't deal with the feelings yesterday of what I am going to write about now. I tend to become very overwhelmed and unsure of myself with what is happening in the present. After the Virginia Tech part of this journey I wanted to not stop... keep on going with the Traveling Piano. Here I am stuck in my house working my way back out... and the going feels like it is going real.... slow. It is a year later. Ugh! I am in more debt now than before! I've got to be financially responsible, yet the Traveling Piano has been a success largely because finances are not in the agenda. Onward...
When the Virginia Tech massacre happened I was in Arizona one day from my goal to get to Hollywood and Boner onto a national television show. This is my idea of fun on how to introduce him to the world before he retires, the present focus of my Wildest of Dreams. The route changed. On the second day after their tragedy, Kevin the main man for the Virginia Tech student center phoned to ask if I would come back there to be with them. He said they could trust me. I knew exactly what he was talking about. I had no agenda but musical fun, friendship and respect... inspiration and of course to empower Boner to give his love and joy to the world... It took about six hours of a blurry headache to allow myself the gift I was being offered. I knew it came from my giving the piano to the Mexican village. The timing of everything to the moment was... too synchronistic to ignore.
It was great to reconnect with Kevin from the student center (top 1st pic on the left) and also with Zach from a VT group I met down in the Katrina affected areas the year before (top 1st pic on he right). We had a big banner made for the front of the truck so there would be no question about the game plan. I spent the next couple of weeks completely focused on the job at hand. It was a significant adventure. I had free rein of the university grounds. To be able to do my work and not worry about restrictions? Wow, wow, wow! I was completely empowered, it was fantastic. On the student center sidewalks, in the school ground fields, the streets, outside buildings, in the parks for departmental picnics... my favorite experience was filling the truck up several times with goody bags sent in from around the country. Four of us with Boner, I drove... we covered the campus grounds. The guys switched between playing the piano and throwing out care packages to everyone like footballs... like twenty bags at a time. I'd see a volleyball game in the field, we'd drive into it... everyone would be jumping into the air catching bags. Nobody cared what was in them. It was all about a new and fresh visual and interactive... musically fun, crazy spontaneous moment. Ha... it was so funny and so much fun!
March 14, 2008
I enjoyed playing in the city streets of Mexico. I enjoyed even more so watching the kids in the villages explore music on the piano. A young girl asked me, "how much does one of these cost?" My mouth said, "ohhh, too much, several thousand dollars." At the same time my head thought, "Shit, I wish she had not asked me that." This was because it gave me a flashback to Mississippi and the piano I was able to buy for Dorothy. The girls question put an immediate desire in my head. I wanted for her to have a piano to play on. I let go of the thought and forgot about it until I was back in the USA. I was in Phoenix Arizona. The piano I had was "beat" from the use and travel and I really needed a good one for Hollywood. I had no money to spare for a new piano and what would I do with the one I had? No time to sell it, too much to give away to a stranger, my head filled with thoughts and dilemma. Should I follow my heart or be practical. Thinking was a waste of time because deep down I knew I always follow my heart good or bad. I purchased a new piano and shipped the the other one back down to the Mexican village where the girl lived. They had a community building in the village and I thought everyone could enjoy it there. It cost $400 to ship. Ugh! Not having money never stopped me from anything before and I was not going to let it stop me then.
In the UPS office the guy told me what was happening in the moment on the news with Virginia Tech and the massacre. Another guy who was also in the store and saw what I was doing with the piano suggested get a picture. I had met a group from Virginia Tech the year before down south after Katrina. I fell by total coincidence into Virginia Tech in the middle of the night during the first week heading West last year on the journey. When I realized where I was the next morning... I stopped at the student plaza and played about a half hour. Everyone came running from the student building to give me candy and tea shirts and thanked me and I introduced Bo... we had a great time. I've told people this story so many times I'm completely bored with it but... its my story! The next day... continued...
March 13, 2008
I really enjoy the opportunity that comes with the Traveling Piano. It offers the ability to engage relationally with people who many consider outcasts of society. The kind of people who have not made it into, or never wanted to be stuck in any organizational or dysfunctional families "inner circle of trust". Rejects, I know how they feel as I have intense personal experience in those areas. Through music and the piano on the truck I can communicate on the most basic levels and with the spontaneity of what the Traveling Piano offers for the world, everything is kept simple. We enjoy common and connected feelings with emotion that lacks egoistic thought. Through music life is about fun, friendship and respect. It is all good stuff, good feelings jolted through surprise, participation, empowerment, fun and inspiration. Financial help is needed to continue it all.
I wish I had some more pictures of the group of school kids who packed into the back of the Traveling Piano truck on a bright sunny March day in Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico last year. We all took a ride down and along the strand. It was by the ocean and we spent a good hour driving up and down the road screaming with music while Bo sat on top of the piano taking in the warm ocean breeze. Several parents did not appreciate the spontaneity of it all but in the end everything worked out, no harm done. Afterwards, we all sat with crayon and paper to create visualized pictures of the experience.
March 12, 2008
Boner made many different new friends throughout Mexico last year. He is the main catalyst for this musical journey. I want as many people as possible in the world to meet him before he retires. Boner is now over thirteen years old. I am out to share and enjoy all the time I have with him on the Traveling Piano. Bo's behavior... his friendly, fun and loving nature has changed many people's perceptions about canines especially in the Mexican tribal villages we visited. Of course in the cities the dogs are as domesticated as here at home but in the tribal villages the dogs even though they are loved... are more wild. Their job is to protect territory, keep the chickens and pigs together and also to eat up the garbage.
We lived right in with the animals in Roblito, Mexico. Neither of us ever really got used to it. We were always watching our ass. You would never knew when a fight between two animals would break out, or when another dog would decide to assert "top dog" status on us, or when any animal would take a stab at food in my hand or Bo's mouth. It was a challenge and more than a wonderful life experience, it was amazing. We literally slept and ate with the pigs, chickens, cats and the other dogs. I was amazed that all the animals (humans too) lived together without killing each other and everyone had a place in the same space... together. Boner never before socialized with other dogs. Because of our Mexican experience he now looks to hang out with his kind. I enjoy watching that when I take him to a dog park or field where other dogs are running loose.
March 11, 2008
There are a lot of fun pictures from last March 11th in Zacatecus, Mexico. This is thanks to a Mexican piano player named Mario. I fell into him while walking down the street. We rode up and down the cobblestone streets taking turns with the piano. Every half hour or so we would switch off between creating music and driving. Whether we were moving or stopped the police stayed right behind us not quite knowing what to do. They never said a word. Together we explored the city streets and parks and more than a hundred people of all ages and types played on the Traveling Piano. It was unforgettable.
I'm not quite sure how it happened but by nightfall we had become a major city event. Maybe people had learned of us through the television news or by fast traveling word, I noticed everyone was taking and sending cell phone pictures in the moment... After driving around all afternoon we parked on a city street corner and in a matter of and hour, there was a popcorn vender, balloon guy, doors of nearby buildings opened and literally thousands of people began to fill the streets from every direction. It was wonderfully overwhelming for me. Mario's girlfriend the famous Opera singer of the city came with her students to sing on the truck. I walked up to a stranger and asked, "Is it like this every Monday night?" And they replied emphatically, "ohhh noooo... this is because of you!" I thought, "you gotta be kidding." So I went to ask several other people and they gave me the same reply. I'm still filled today with total gratitude. I never had anything like that happen before. Everyone was so happy and appreciative. Around 8:00PM the government stepped in and placed a traditional Mexican band down the street and told us we had to leave. I said, "Thank, You, Thank You!" More and more people were constantly arriving and I did not know what I was going to do because I was so exhausted. As I was leaving, I drove down the street and all I saw were people walking and sitting examining the Traveling Piano pamphlets they had taken from the back of the truck.
March 10, 2008
What I planned to write about today coincidentally happened one year ago... today! I had the second most spontaneously joyful experience of my life so far. I had entered Mexico and was driving hundreds of miles somewhere in nowhere land heading for a small fishing village named Roblito in the middle of the country on its west coast. I stopped on the side of the road to relieve myself from all the water I had been drinking, saw a few kids on bikes by a gate, felt a sense of opportunity, said to myself, "start doing what you are here to do, just dive into it all... go for it." I jumped into the truck started to follow the boys down a road to where I did not know. I ended up in a small enclave of about five houses and todays picture shows what the Traveling Piano created... spontaneous fun, friendship and respect! Short clips of memory... the women were very timid and kept trying to edge out of the house but each time ended up running back inside. The mother did come out to make one walk around the truck. The dad was afraid to take a picture for me so his son who was about six years old did it. (see the blog from last year) There were about eight boys and when they began to climb all over the truck and go through the cab... fear entered my mind for the money, equipment, personal belongings etc... I said to myself, "there is too much fun happening in this moment to worry about fearful stuff" and of course as I knew I'd find out afterwards there was nothing in reality to be fearful of. It all lasted about twenty minutes. I left the scene screaming down the road in ecstasy. I did! This appearance was way beyond any worth of life that I could have possibly imagined. It was the biggest jolt of joy I ever experienced. And it was all for free... for everyone!!!
March 09, 2008
Posted is one of my favorite pictures from Mexico last year. I pulled into a very small town named San Cayetano in the state of Nayarit and just began playing music on the piano. Around 700 people live there. Within minutes from every direction all the kids from the town started running towards the truck and riding up to us on bikes. I immediately invited everyone to play on the piano but they were all to "chicken" to do it so I decided to create a game to get them started. I shouted, "the first person to get into the truck and play the piano gets this!" ...and with a large gesture I pulled out a big Raggin' Piano Boogie poster. (yes, I have posters :) Along with oohs and ahhs... that did the trick. A young girl jumped into the truck and onto the piano to play for the first time ever and to claim her prize. Everyone began screaming and shouting with fun and laughter and then they all began to take over the truck. They were climbing in and out ...on top of the piano... at one point there were like eight kids creating piano music at the same time. I was lucky to get a picture as the sun had just set. That night was so full of joy. How great it was to be able to bring the Traveling Piano to that town and to inspire everyone to just tackle the piano with music and with no restrictions associated to it. What was happening was all too good to have any worry about something being destroyed or broken. I had complete faith in the positive flow I was experiencing and only goodness came from it. What stands out in my memory most was watching how these children were respectfully coaching each other to be careful and not get too out of control. There were few adults around and they were empowering each other with their own responsibility. The word humility comes to mind because the experience was all much larger than any "one" of us. It was all, way cool!
March 08, 2008
Todays "Best Of Traveling Piano" is from one of my "life's most wonderful moments" ever Top 10 list. I was in Mississippi in Pass Christian where Katrina had hit dead center. Dorothy walked up and showed interest in what I was doing and started to give me attention as I played. She was a local resident, 80 something, retired schoolteacher, lost everything in the storm including one of her most precious possessions, her piano. She played original Mississippi, Boogie Gospel piano for me. She was the real thing! I could never express the joy I was feeling. Most of the people who knew her did not even know that she played! "Ahh yes, since I was 6 years old... every night I played and when I went to sleep if I woke up in the middle of the night with a tune in my head... I would get out of bed to play it on the piano, but no more." When she said that I thought, "you ain't taking my joy away lady!" I was so happy in that moment. Then I mumbled, "we need to get you a piano." And then as I saw her respond with hope. I thought shit, how am I going to do that?
Bea was with us, a new friend and the lady who was housing me. After Dorothy had gone back to her trailer we had four hours to hang out . To make a long story short... can you believe I found a open music store in the area with a piano? I had $1000.00 bucks from the Mardi Gras parade that I played in a week before. It was wrapped around my ankles. I told the music store owner that it was my last day in the area... true, and that I had come to play music for people and lift spirits... true, that I brought my piano for other piano players to play who lost theirs in the storm, true... and that I wanted to put some money into the economy, and that he would be doing a great deed for me and a neighbor of his... if he would sell me the piano, true. I struck a deal with the $1000.00 in my hands and four hours later Dorothy had a new piano in her possession. What a Wow moment that was!
March 07, 2008
As I was walking today I was thinking about what I have to offer for the world. I'm a pretty good piano player but not the greatest, my improvisational music will develop well in the future, the fun, friendship respect, the Traveling Piano, inspiration, empowerment Boogie Woogie, Ragtime music yea, yea, yea... thats all good stuff but what I really have to offer is my journey. There are many aspects to my "Wildest of Dreams" and they are specific, complex and there is an end. Achieving them is not what I have to offer for the world. My pursuit of them even if they do not materialize is what I have to offer the world. I do see them materializing... and then I lose sight of them... and then they come back into focus... and then on and on... sometimes life can be a pain in the ass but that pain has been getting less and less as I get older. I just need more practice I guess. The exploration, use, demonstration and sharing of my choices and tenacity is what I have to offer for the world.
Picture: When I was in New Orleans after Katrina, I did a Mardi Gras parade. The theme was Elvis Presley hence the "outfit". Boner was also dressed up with his bow-tie. This picture was the night before at the Mardi Gras ball.
March 06, 2008
I've been living the Wildest of Dreams and I have a lot of dreams. Right now I dream of keeping the focus on enjoying as much time as I can with Boner, Raggin' Piano Boogie and the Traveling Piano. I dream of the world meeting Boner meaning... "as many people as possible" ...with the Traveling Piano and without cost or major hoopla. The Traveling Piano can be a major hoopla thing... but I want to keep intimacy and can do that through the spontaneous performances and appearances as has been happening. I have said many times for my work I want to play for people and communities that rarely have the opportunity to see or hear a piano man or to try out a piano.
Last year I headed for Hollywood to achieve having Boner meet the world on a television show. I did not get there because of the Virginia Tech disaster. I was clear that television or Hollywood was not the goal... it was part of the plan. That is partly why we went through Mexico and rural America first. Hollywood was just in the plan. It still is. The request from the students at Virginia Tech to come back east validated the substance of my mission and because of that I realized that I wanted to take care of business on a larger scale. That is how the idea of China came into play. The world meeting Boner... the world would meet him at the "World Olympics." Then I though, I've always known that the country of China would love my music... I'd love to go to the rural areas there. So this is the present plan. Raise the money and do it. Today's picture is a visualization of us hanging out, going with the flow on the streets of Beijing.
March 05, 2008
I am reflecting on the past with this blog to keep myself going inspirationally. Most of my time is being spent letting go of life as I have known it for ...*cough*... years, my house, possessions, way of doing things etc...I need your help, many people to help financially if the Traveling Piano is to continue.
When I was down South I did not get many pictures to bring home. I was not thinking about or had any time for pictures. I had a job to do... musically lift spirits, share the piano, put some money into the economy, etc... It was my first time doing anything like what the Traveling Piano is all about.
Whenever I've done anything in my life without having the financial security to do it (which has been about 95% of the time) well... In the beginning I had my parents to fall back on... I had 3 financial flukes throughout life ... and then lastly I always had the equity in my house to fall back on. Well, thats all over! This is a new beginning and I am moving forward without a net to fall on or in. (I'm selling my house and possessions to help pay the past two years of bills) There is a DONATE HERE and BONER'S STORE on the left of this page! (in case you don't know) People start over from scratch all the time, disasters happen to peoples lives all the time. I've been very fortunate in never having to move financially forwards because of a disaster. I am telling myself I have nothing to worry about, (I'm faking it until I make it) The work I want to continue with the Traveling Piano is a good thing. I do have faith that if I do the right things the right things will happen. I have had a lot of right things happen.
March 04, 2008
I have left home and stayed away overnight only 3 times in my entire 20 year career with Raggin' Piano Boogie. I was always booked within a days drive from my house. I was in Rhode Island for New Years Eve, Florida for Universal Studio's and North Carolina for a small college who's name I forget. When I left two years ago for the Katrina affected areas down South, that was the first time ever as the "Traveling Piano." This was when I began to share the piano on the truck with other people whether they ever before played on a piano or not and this was when I also began creating spontaneous performances without scheduled appearances. I started out by driving down random streets that were clear enough of debris. When I saw someone working on their property I would stop to say hi or create a diversion with some musical entertainment or physically help them do whatever they needed to get done. I felt my way into every situation so I did not come across as intrusive or inappropriate. I began feeling inclusive, caring and genuinely interested in people as never before.
March 03, 2008
Every time I look at my dog Boner I have a "wow" moment. I am stopped in the moment with a jolt. I become conscious of joy, wonder, love, amazement, fun, playfulness, gratitude, connectedness, togetherness, appreciation of how handsome he is on and on. All in the moment, everytime and I am not exaggerating one bit. I often think of how wonderful it would be to have a human partner in life consistently in the way I experience Bo. This is what I am now shooting for. I better start shooting stronger, times a wasting. Bo is the first dog I've ever owned. He is the dog of my dreams, the dog I pictured in my minds eye when I was five years old. I asked for a dog from my parents my whole life. When I purchased my house I finally had the courage to have him even with people in my life saying it would be a bad idea, that I would not be capable... thank God I had the courage and self esteem to move forward with my desire. None of those people are in my life today, thank God for that too. I never planned for Bo to hang out with me on top of the piano. You can read all about that in the Boner and Me link. I was thinking last night, Boners strongest muscle is in his tail. It moves more than any other part of his body. If we are looking at each other, his tail is wagging. As you may know my present dream is for the world to meet Boner before he retires. I want to enjoy him with everyone possible while he is still with us. He's doing pretty good for being thirteen years old.
Picture: Boner in Saint Bernard Parish, New Orleans 2006
March 02, 2008
Balance in all areas of my life is what I strive to achieve. It is without question my personal life's calling and also the most difficult challenge that exists for me. Sometimes I think I cannot achieve total balance... I must choose between balance or oblivion... those are the choices... pro-productive or non-productive... I know intellectually this is not the case. I would rather choose pro-productive (highly spirited and motivated) verses non-productive (compulsive and obsessive). I'd rather go for... becoming obsessively and compulsively pro-productive? Are you confused yet? ...my life, thats my life. I know in reality I cannot choose one or the other, I must learn to live with both in my life and find the answer in accepting "it is what it is" ...at least for today. I am always open to change. I must learn to live with my high energy and why not? My job is to be responsible with my "high energy" so that I can create fun, friendship and respect... happiness, joy. My job is to choose "good things" and trust me with 52 years of search and discover... the successes and failure's... I know a good thing when I see it. I also know the bad things... and still experience them. I am talking about failure but I must still be willing to fail if I am going to move forward. I don't feel like I want to say anymore right now except that I am so frustrated that after almost three years of writing this blog and I will still take a word like "expreince" and spell it just like I did, knowing that I will type it incorrect . The fact that I cannot do it right in the moment even after correcting it thousands and thousands of times and trying hundreds of different ways to remember as I type it... I just won't slow down enough times repetitively to "get it" ...that friggin' frustrates me!
Picture: Jim and Alberta in 2006 after Katrina. Two local folk from Saint Bernard Parish who had been standing in line outside a food kitchen. As I was performing they broke away from the line and began some New Orleans style... two steppin'. We became great friends.
March 01, 2008
Ahh... it is March 1st. I have so many decisions to make... today, specifically with how I want to use this blog. The first purpose from the start was to honestly share the experience of my process not with... how difficult it is (my old tendencies), but with how as a person I am emerging from the depths of life in everyway into happiness and success. I'm still emerging. Actually that is my main motive for the whole web site, to emerge. I had three specific writing areas about Boner, performances and my health... mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Through time it became confusing to write about Boner anymore. I did it everyday for over a year. I need to review and see what I missed, do the first rewrite... but time does not allow for that in the moment. Before I publish daily, I do one quick read with everything I write and then move on. I've been doing it that way from the start. The health blog I took off the website for career reasons. Hahaha... I think I'm going to start with it again and put it all back up on the site because my purpose to share and give of my experience, strength and hope for the good of everyone that I can impact. This is the true impulse from my gut. I know that it contains much more information then most people want but, "it is what it is." These days I have had so little to write about with performances because I am in a major transition of taking care f business, the health stuff has seeped into this performance area of the website. Everything for me is a balancing act and I work with balance every day. I do the best that I can. The future in any given moment is full of fear, wonder and joy.
Picture: My first day in Pass Christian, Mississippi after Katrina in February of 2006. We were outside of the FEMA tents sizing up the potential of creating some fun, friendship and respect. It was an experience of love and joy I had with everyone I encountered. Please support the continuation of this path that began as the Traveling Piano.