Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bless Your Beautiful Hide!

Inspiration comes in the most unexpected places sometimes.  I have been inspired by a piano player.  From Jackson Hole.  Who accompanies a summer show at a playhouse.

In June, Brian and I took two of our daughters for an overnight trip to Jackson, Wyoming.  We wanted to celebrate Jackie's graduation from Massage Therapy School.  Part of our celebrating included tickets to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Jackson Hole Playhouse.

The lights dimmed for the show to begin.  Stragglers found their seats. Quietly, and with no fanfare, the piano player took his place at the instrument to the far right of the stage.  He had a little piano light, a ringed notebook bulging with music, and more talent than I have seen squeezed into one person in a long time.

His music was a joy to hear.  Effortlessly he coaxed it out, setting the tone for the show.  The overture was filled with the memorable melodies of this longtime favorite .  His cowboy boots contributed to the building sound, banging out the time on the pedal.  It was sweet when the music was sweet; it was raucous when called upon to be raucous.  I was enchanted.

Then a month later, I had the opportunity to be in Jackson Hole again, and to share this fun discovery with more friends and family. 

Our tickets to the same show this time around put us two rows directly behind my old friend, the piano player.  Ah!  Now I could follow along in the dim light, as he would quickly turn from page to page.  It didn't take long to realize that his fingers were playing significantly more notes than were actually written.  The fluorishes were his own doing.  The simple chords on the page were skillfully broken into arpeggios that ran the length of the keyboard.  Wow.  I was mesmerized.

So, all summer long I have been humming along.  And whistling along.  And singing along to these delightful songs.  Until I decided that I just had to have the music so I could play along as well.  It didn't take a trip to the music store.  It didn't take searching online, ordering the book, and waiting for it to arrive in the mail.  I simply searched it, paid a little money, and then downloaded and printed my own copy.  It took all of about ten minutes.

While I could never rival his expert, graceful playing, I have thoroughly enjoyed trying my hand at June Bride, Wonderful Day, Lonesome Polecat, Going Courtin', and of course, Bless your Beautiful Hide.  When no one is around, I even try to channel my memory of him and fancy that my clumsy efforts sound almost as good as his.  Almost as good as that amazing, humble, awesome piano player that finds fulfillment in a small theatre in the heart of the Rockies.  Now that's inspiring.


Anonymous said...

I loved this piece, Ardith. And I can see the puddle of light on his music--I've been in several musicals where we had an accompanist play along with us. Some were heavily involved in the rehearsal process. But she stopped when the director got the recording of the more complicated musical score in the mail and could coach the techs on how to play it at the right times.

Other accompanists stuck through the whole thing and that puddle of light was reassuring to us actors during production, a constant in the house, even when the rest of the house had bloomed into a constant wild card made of ever-changing people. When we were in dress rehearsals, that puddle of light stayed the same even when costumes, props, and set morphed around us. And our accompanist was every much a part of the cast and crew; we all gave her credit during bows and final applause. Hers was an addition to the collaborative art of theatre just like everyone else's part.

LeAnn said...

I loved your story of the piano player and the great musical 7 Brides for & Brothers; that is one of my favorite movies of all time. I know if I had gone to this I would be humming the music forever. I wish I could play good enought to get the music and do as you are doing. I play the piano; but have the handicap of goofing up if someone steps into the room. We have a lot of Christmas family videos with my carefully made mistakes.
Love your post it made me smile.
Blessings to you and keep on enjoying the music.

Laura said...

This post made me smile too. I've never seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but now I want to! :-)