background music

Musings on One Fun Gig

Today I had the pleasure of performing background music at a 90th birthday party. The "birthday boy" is looking very hearty and hale. Both he and his wife could easily be mistaken for being 20 years younger. When I first spoke to the couple, they requested that I play a wide range of music as the youngest family member is 3 months old, while the "birthday boy" represents the top end. I really enjoyed putting this program together, which had everything from All of Me and Fly Me to the Moon to Avril Lavigne's Breakaway and Super Mario Brothers; with some improvising thrown in.

The great grandchildren came to chat with me about music, Guitar Hero II and karate while I played the Inspector Gadget Theme and Willy Wonka's Welcome Song. One six-year old asked if he could play with me so we jammed on a boogie pattern while his cousins bopped to the music and "comped" when the inspiration struck.

They said my hands moved pretty fast. Meanwhile, I was thinking, "I need to practice my scales even more!" I stayed to chat afterwards with one of the grandchidlren, a former coworker of mine whom I haven't seen in years. It was a pleasant surprise to see her there.

The gig wasn't without its glitches. My break was used up over a dropped key. When the party moved to the venue's dining room, I found the piano locked. I went to get the key when it fell into the piano. Three gentlemen (four if you count my six-year old assistant) tried to pull it out because it fell in the most inconvenient spot.

I also think perhaps the Heritage Park ghosts decided to play a practical joke on me as my pages kept flipping on their own during my Beatles songs and Breakaway. Perhaps it was their way of saying that they wanted more ragtime and boogie? Who knows?

With a bit of tweaking and revising, I think I can reuse the program at future gigs.

(c) 2008 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Lost and Found....Odds and Ends

Here I was, happily posting blog entries when I was surprised by an e-mail from a friend a few days ago. She asked where my blog content went. Sure enough, "Musings" disappeared. My friend and I inspected the code and I explored my settings - all to no avail. This evening, on a lark, I changed the template to blue (Calliope's colour - Calliope is my writing moniker) and now everything is fine. The weekend's gigs went well. I was a little disconcerted by Saturday's wedding however. Small weddings in large churches make me feel odd to begin with. Small weddings in large churches where 90% of the guests don't sing along are especially disconcerting. I especially worked hard with the priest to pick mass settings that were familiar to the couple's families. I tried to lead in the singing but wound up sacrificing the chords I so studiously figured out the night before. What can I say? It was a quiet crowd. Lovely ceremony though and the couple looked fantastic.

Yesterday's gig was an adventure. I managed to improvise on four boogie woogie rhythms. The first attempt was the best, by far and garnered some applause and cheers. It was a good thing I practiced improvising as I wound up ditching the slow songs in favour of more upbeat tunes to match the crowd's mood.

There was a cowboy singing duo, complete with a washtub and amplified guitar in another room during cocktails. During dinner, we were located on opposite ends of the dining room, which was fine. However, as the evening progressed, the cowboys inched closer and closer to the piano. With 10 or 15 minutes left to my gig, I turned to the people sitting closest to me and said, "I think it's time for me to go get dessert." I wound up relaxing and listening to the cowboys for the rest of my time. There was no way I was going to win against an amplified guitar and cowboys who were challenging the patrons to sing and dance. As I was packing up to leave, the cowboys took over the piano area completely.

Ah well, them’s the breaks. It was an adventure and the food was delicious. Another gig came through the pipes this morning. Another wedding but it’s a cocktail music + wedding music + dinner music combo all in one place. Guess what they’ve asked for? You’ve got it, honky-tonk and boogie woogie.

© Musespeak, Calgary, AB, 2005. All rights reserved.