“Hel-lo my Honey, Hel-lo my baby, Hel-lo my ragtime gal, Send me your kiss by wire….Darlin, my heart’s on fire.
If you refuse me, honey you’ll lose me, and you’ll be left a-lone. Call me and and tell me you’re my own-”
The day I played ragtime at the Cafe Classigue it wasn’t easy.
The piano had a seat too low for me. I had to put my “Complete Works of Scott Joplin” under my butt while I was playing various memorized small classic pieces to warm up. The top of the piano had a number of objects on it: a remote, a small wicker basket shaped like a duck, a business card holder, a guitar pick, and digital tuner, and some sort of guitar neck chord shackle. I sat. I played. Lightning did not strike me. No one threw anything. It was OK.
I worked my way into playing the first part of “The Maple Leaf Rag”. The piano I was playing on was, as the owner had said, SOFT. I didn’t have to strain to do octaves or play the quick but firm chords of ragtime. It was time to do some rags I don’t have memorized, so I had to find a couple of books to replace the music and try to find a way to prop it up so I could read it on the top of the piano. This was a challenge. I ended up using my wallet to prop up the music and a skinny book.
I couldn’t really hear myself that well, and the lighting was not the best for me reading music. Still, I found my focus, my enjoyment, and was mildly sparkly. The piano’s softness kept my mistakes from sounding really awful. The place got busy. There was a lot of ambient noise. What I can always trust when I am playing ragtime is that IT IS AWESOME. The compositions of Scott Joplin are good, so I don’t have to be, and my brain, with all it’s mad complexes, can stay the hell out of the way.
I started squinting to read the music, became choppy, and the owner materialized and said ” Stop, you are making me nervous with the starting and stopping.” He walked over and turned on the sterio music. Can’t wish for a clearer feedback loop than that.As I hastily beat a retreat and re-put the stuff back on the top of the piano, I reflected that I had made muster for a good 40 minutes straight! This was Success with a capital S for me.