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"Piano Players Have All The Fun"

You canít carry an acoustic piano to a gig. 
You have to play whatever monstrosity happens to be there. 
Sometimes they donít even have one, 
and thatís where a lot of the trouble begins. 

A Miami combo I played in 
was managed by a man called Uncle Harve. 
Uncle Harve booked us to play on a flatbed truck 
on a beach 125 miles up the coast. 

The pay was low, 
but Harve talked about ďexposureĒ 
and possible future bookings if we did wellÖ 
the booking agentís national anthem. 

After the long hot drive, 
and carrying equipment through the sand, 
someone noticed that there was no piano. 
Donell Austin, the lead singer, refused to work without a piano. 
Uncle Harve couldnít see the logic in that, 
but he finally agreed to let us go into town 
and see if we could find a piano for rent. 

We got one, and helped the store guy move it to the beach 
and up onto the flatbed. 
The temperature was 103 in the shade, 
and no shade. 
We played all afternoon, tore down the equipment, 
and collapsed in the van for the long ride home. 

Everybody got paid but me. 
Harve said that my money went for the piano rental. 
Being young and stupid, 
I didnít kill him. 

I got so I could stand house pianos being out of tune, 
but when half the keys donít play, 
and the ivory is missing from the other half, 
you tape your fingers 
to keep the blood off your band jacket. 

*     *     * 
It was Christmas, 
and an agent who was just a voice on the telephone, 
booked us in a dump called Sybilís Cave. 
in a weird town in northern Minnesotaís twilight zone, 
It had all the atmosphere of an abandoned subway tunnel. 
Naturally there was no piano. 

Sybil looked like a prison guard, 
and her husband was a local police lieutenant. 
You know we couldnít win this one. 

The cop and I walked a mile through the icy streets 
to rent a piano at a store he knew. 
The upright piano was on castors, 
and we pushed it all the way back. 
The frozen, broken sidewalks, 
and going up and down curbs made it extra fun. 

We had rented weekly motel rooms for our drummer and us, 
but Sybil fired us the first night. 
She said her customers were animals, 
and that we were too high class. 
She didnít pay us for the night. 

While her cop husband watched us carry our stuff out to the trailer, 
somebody stole all our padded moving blankets. 

Piano players have all the fun. 

Copyright © August 13, 2006, by Jack Blanchard. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted by permission.

 

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