Last night the King of the Blues, BB King, performed here in my hometown, and I went to see the show. I've been a fan of the blues, and BB for years; my musical tastes do tend to run to the eccentric at times. He's well into his eighties now, so one never knows if this is the last time he'll make it out this way. It was a fine concert; BB still has what it takes to play for his audience, to entertain us, to bring out a smile. He's got a great stage presence. And he's damned good with the guitar. If you get a chance to see him in concert, take it, even if you might not consider yourself a blues fan.
It got me to thinking about music in general, and to another older musician who I've seen twice. Dave Brubeck, the jazz pianist, has played here at our jazz festival twice in the last few years, and I've attended his concerts. He's well up there too, but once he sits down at that piano, it's astonishing. It's as if twenty or thirty years comes right off his age, and he's got the audience right where he wants them. Another great musician, and a legend.
That led me into thinking about the piano itself. Some of my favourite musical acts make fair use of the piano. Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Michael Kaeshammer (who sounds like he must have more then ten fingers when he gets to tickling the ivories) are among those musicians.
Now, what does this have to do with an airborne piano?
I remembered something that happened in my extended family some years ago. One of my cousins came into acquisition of a piano. She wanted to play herself, and was looking forward to getting it in the house. Her husband and a couple of cousins took a pick-up truck to fetch it.
Well, it seems reasonable that when you're moving such an object, you take great care in tying it down, and you drive slowly, right? When my father bought an organ, he had it tied down very carefully, and he drove very slowly when bringing it home.
Alvin tied the thing down with one rope into the back. He then proceeded to drive home. At his usual speed. You can guess what happened. Inevitably the rope came loose. And going around a curve at the speed limit or above, well... the piano went flying.
I keep wondering what someone driving behind must have thought, seeing that piano so briefly airborne before gravity brought it slamming down onto the ground and shattering into pieces. They must have been briefly terrified, depending on how close they were.
For his part, Alvin thought it was funny. His wife? Not so much.
He still owes her a piano.
And it's a bit of a shame. A piano's a fine instrument.
If we have to destroy a musical instrument, it should be one that deserves it. Like an accordian.