Categories
Music Performing Arts recovery

Tuesday Tuneup 73

Q. What’s going on inside?

A. Conviction.

Q. You’ve been convicted of a crime?

A. Not that kind of conviction.

Q. What kind, then?

A. Spiritual conviction.

Q. Can you elaborate?

A. I’m convicted!  Does the word mean nothing to you?

Q. Why should it?

A. Weren’t you around during the 80’s?

Q. What happened during the 80’s?

A. There was a massive movement throughout America, I guess it started in the late 70’s.  35% of Americans began identifying themselves as “born again Christian” — and they were markedly more conservative than the average voter.

Q. What’s this got to do with conviction?

A. It became Christian slang for a person to say there were “convicted” when they believed that the Spirit was impressing upon them some thing that they should or should not do.

Q. Isn’t that more like guilt?

A. Not exactly.  One can feel guilty even if one has done nothing wrong.   There are many sources of guilt, and not all of them are positive.

Q. But conviction is always positive?

A. Yes.

Q. Well then!  What are you convicted about?

A. Gee, I thought you’d never ask.

Q. Are you convicted you’ve been doing something wrong?  Or convicted that you haven’t been doing something right?

A. Both.  But the latter seems more salient, and to the point.

Q. What is that you ought to be doing right?

A. Something that doesn’t come natural to me.  But every sign is pointing that I do it.

Q. But what is it?

A. I hesitate to say.

Q. Why?

A. I’ll sound weird.

Q. Cold feet?

A. Heebie jeebies.

Q. WHAT IS IT??

A. I’m supposed to take on these — um — roles.  In the community here.  One is that of being a mediator.   Another, a mentor.

Q. Mediator?  Mediator over what?

A. I seem to have been selected to smooth relations between two neighboring businesses.

Q. Why you?

A. Because I am involved in both businesses, one on a volunteer basis, and one as a hanger-outer in a coffee shop.

Q. What is the essence of the tension between the two establishments?

A. Culture clash.   You see, the people next door from the coffee house are involved in trying to get their lives back together.   A lot of them  have been on drugs, or on the streets, or otherwise severely traumatized.  Some of them have serious mental health conditions.   The point is, many of them come across in confusing ways that don’t fit the social norms.

Q. But they’re good people, right?

A. Absolutely!  It’s just that the people in the coffee house don’t necessarily know that.

Q. What are the people in the coffee house like?

A. Quiet, studious, and reserved.

Q. And the people from the place next door?

A. Loud, boisterous, and unrefined.  

Q. So you’re supposed to be a go-between?

A. Yes.  I’m supposed to gently tell them not to be too loud around the coffee house, or cuss too much, or refer to themselves and others in derogatory terms.   And I’m supposed to explain and defend them to the baristas who may feel uneasy in their presence.

Q. Well, isn’t this a good thing?

A. Well, yeah.  It’s better than if the owners had decided just to kick them out of the coffeehouse.  But it’s still a strange position for me to be in.  I have no experience in this area.

Q. So how will you go about this?

A. One step at a time.

Q. Will you wear a badge?

A. Not on your life.  

Q. What about the mentoring?

A. That’s a little more down my alley.   You see, this guy died last month.  A dear friend of mine.  Here’s a picture of him:

Paul Anders

Q. Wasn’t he a little young to die?

A. Young like mid-50’s.  Fit, healthy, vibrant.  Paul caught some kind of flu, turned to pneumonia, turned to a staph infection, then sepsis – and he was gone in about ten days.  He was a great musician – and a great guy.  It shocked the entire community, and left a great void.

Q. What’s this got to do with mentoring?

A. Paul was a mentor and a role model for many of the younger musicians in the community.  He played about ten different instruments, freely played music with all, and encouraged all musicians to embrace and develop their full potential.

Q. And you are supposed to do this in his stead?

A. No one can replace Paul.  But I get this sense that I’m supposed to break out of my shell somewhat, and contact some of the musicians, and see if I can be of help in any way.  In fact, there’s these two brothers who play music — they’re both in their early to mid twenties, and one of them is a fantastic bass player.  Their dad actually approached me.  He said point blank that I am the one to fulfill this role.

Q. How does that make you feel?

A. Honored.   And like I said, convicted.

Q. Almost guilty?   Or afraid, maybe?

A. Only because I’ve never done it before.   

Q. Is that really true, Andy?

A. Well — not for a long time.  I used to be a music teacher, and a musical director for musical theatre productions.   I saw that the kids looked up to me, and I enjoyed passing off my knowledge as best I could.

Q. Then what happened?

A. I think you know what happened.  But let’s just say I was no longer in the position where anybody would see me as either a mentor or a mediator.

Q. But now they do?

A. Somehow, yes — however magically.

Q. So what are you going to do about this conviction?

A. I’m gonna just do it.  I called the bass player, and we’re going to jam at my place on Saturday.   Paul’s 26 year old daughter, herself a singer-songwriter, is going to show up later on this morning with her guitar.

Q. Why does this seem strange to you?  I mean, you’re a musician, right?

A. If you want the truth, the reason I feel so convicted is that it’s making me realize what a self-preoccupied egomaniac I have been throughout most of the past fifteen years.  I’ve lived largely in my head, and not in the world of people.  It started when I was — homeless.  The world of people was too painful to face continually.  So I developed my inner creative world to a new peak, in order to block out the pain of the world around me.

But now, in the world around me — at least in my immediate community — there is very little pain.   Yet for over 3 1/2 years, I’ve persisted in living in my head.  This will give me a chance to get out of my head, and do good things for others, for a change.

Q. And how does that make you feel?

A. It makes me feel good.  Today is the first day in forever that my restless spirit has been at peace.    

The Questioner is silent.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Categories
Creative process Performing Arts Piano

Lighter Shades

So I was a roadie (very briefly) for a band called the Fibonaccis back in the 80’s, and one day they were playing at the Palace at Hollywood & Vine to open for the Eurythmics.

For one reason or another, they didn’t get a sufficient sound check before they went on.  The first couple songs sounded kinda sloppy.   The person sitting next to me turned to me and said: 

“Worst band since the Plastics.”

“They only got a five minute sound check,” I replied.

Seeing my badge, she seemed to suddenly realize I was in some way associated with the production.

“You wouldn’t be their manager, would you?”

“I wouldn’t admit it if I was.”

The Eurythmics came on shortly after.  I decline to describe the antics except to say that whatever was going on between Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, I would hope they have forgiven each other by now.

Once the Eurythmics broke up, Annie Lennox went on to release an absolutely gorgeous version of the old Procol Harum tune, “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”   At that time, I was the regular pianist at a place called Gulliver’s of San Francisco.   Inspired by her version, I started playing the tune consistently during my sets.

This guy named Andrew thought the song was named “Lighter Shades.”  So he kept coming up to me and saying: “Hey, Andy – do Lighter Shades!”

Long story short, I had occasion to tell this story to Tom, the fellow who has been so kind as to come and set up the smartphone on the tripod for me so I can keep churning out these tunes for you.  Just as I got to the part where Andrew was requesting “Lighter Shades,” he happened to start recording me.   Before I knew it, I found myself going into my old version of the song that Andrew so enjoyed back in the 90’s.

Five minutes later: “It’s a take!”

Hadn’t played the tune for maybe 25 years, and well — we’ll see.  The procedure from here is that I have to wait for Tom to email the video file, then I need to upload it to my youtube channel.  

And the purpose of my telling you all this is just to let you know that I’m still on it with my New Year’s Resolution.   Probably later on today — or possibly tomorrow — you may find the shades of my piano draped a tad more lightly.

Stay tuned.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Categories
Artist Music Performing Arts Piano

A Day in the Life

The holiday threw off my plans to record a new piano piece, but I would like to offer my very dark version of “A Day in the Life,” the famous Beatles tune by John Lennon & Paul McCartney, as recorded using a Samsung Galaxy J-1.  Andy Pope at the Baldwin Grand, January 10, 2018.   Hope you enjoy it.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.

 

 

Categories
Music Musical Performing Arts Piano

San Francisco

Wear some flowers in your hair the next time you visit San Francisco — and watch what happens.   “San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie.   (My take on it, anyway.)   Enjoy.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

Categories
Creative process Family Music Performing Arts Songwriting

Lonely Hearts

This one is from my daughter Angela (whom I call “Echo”).  We were talking on the phone this morning when she began to write a song about me.   This afternoon she expanded it into a larger song called “Lonely Hearts” and has now posted it to her youtube.   


 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Categories
Artist Music Musical Theatre Performing Arts Piano

Got to Get You into My Life

Another clip from the Beatles show, very early on.  Obviously, I’d not yet grasped that I don’t need to hit those electronic keys quite as hard as the keys on the Baldwin Grand.  (Not that I exactly need to hit the Baldwin keys as hard as I do either.  I just like it like that.)

Dave Harlan is the sound man, the guy who helped put the music stand back on the piano after I hit the keys so hard it fell over onto the floor.  (He also happens to be the director of Eden in Babylon.) Paul Anders on the Cajon, and one can even detect my pastor Norman in the audience, as well as the very kind woman Marilyn who gave me my Howard upright piano for free.   Even covered the piano moving.   Lots of nice people in da hood.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

Categories
Creative process Music Musical Musical Theatre Performing Arts Piano

Daddy

The Cole Porter classic. My heart belongs to Daddy too, by the way. Only I don’t think it’s the daddy that Cole had in mind. Andy Pope at the Baldwin Grand, July 19, 2019.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Categories
Lyrics Music Performing Arts Piano Songwriting

Can’t Buy Me Love

I apologize for the delay.  I’ve been waiting for clips from the All Beatles Show to start pouring into my inbox, which moment appears at long last to be now.   I’ll just post them in the order they come.  Here’s “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

Categories
Artist Performing Arts Piano Songwriting

The All Beatles Show

For those of you who have been anticipating a musical offering right around now, you will not be disappointed.  I’ve only been waiting for a relaxed moment to report what’s been happening.

Beatles Logo Clip Art – Cliparts

I just returned from a two hour show where I and multi-instrumentalist Paul Anders were joined by the special guest arrival of vocalist Kelsey Chapman, who harmonized with me on a performance of nothing but Beatles songs for two hours.   Although we didn’t get a video of the entire show, Brandy Sullivan has told me that she has captured four or five key sections.  

My first response was: “Tell me you caught Eleanor Rigby!”  

“That I did,” smiled Brandy.

“Whew!” I breathed a sigh of relief.  It was too magical, between me and Paul when he was on his violin, bowing smooth arco passages throughout.   And the voicings Kelsey and I intuited into our harmonies, and the dynamic peaks and valleys of the piece.  It was one of those times that all musicians live for, when everything comes together, however mysteriously, and by surprise.

It was all in all a very high-spirited, warm-hearted occasion.  At one point the entire building was singing the chorus to “Yellow Submarine” repeatedly.  They got softer and softer, until I suddenly shouted “One more time!”  At that, everybody starting singing “We all live on a yellow submarine!” at the top of their lungs.  It was priceless.

Kelsey did “Imagine” — technically a John Lennon tune — and Dave and I sang harmonies, another one with an almost mystical ebb and flow.  “Lady Madonna” was one of the more rockin’ numbers, as was “Gotta Get You Into My Life.”   Then came “For No One,” “Nowhere Man,” and “The Fool on the Hill.”  Maybe you get the picture.  It got kinda dark.

We closed with “A Day in the Life.”  This, by the way, was a fundraiser, that happened to go quite well — in fact, even better than hoped.  I’ll be posting clips and videos as I receive them from Brandy throughout the weekend.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Categories
Creative process Musical Musical Theatre Performing Arts Playwriting

A Difficult but Just Decision

Even after the Good Cop Bad Cop maneuver, only six out of twelve showed up on Friday’s rehearsal.   That, on top of other factors, has caused me and Dave to make the decision cited in the email below:

Team:

We have come to the difficult decision to postpone our reading of Eden in Babylon. After a couple of weeks of cast fluctuations, some difficulty with scheduling and a hard look at our current workloads and available resources, it makes sense for us to step back to reduce the stress and to be sure to give this piece the attention it deserves. The hiatus will give us an opportunity to find additional collaborators to help us with logistics. And it will give Andy time to finish up the scoring and materials to help teach and learn the music most effectively.

At this point we don’t have a new target date for the reading. We’ll let you know as we know more. You’ll all be on our list when we get ready to put together a cast in the future.

Thank you all for the work you’ve done. We truly appreciate it. We will keep in touch as we look for the right time to do this show.

Thanks again,

Dave and Andy

The wording is Dave’s after a lengthy discussion, and he and I are in agreement.  Not only will this give me two months distance from a situation in which my overloaded, all-over-the-map semblance was promoting a loose and chaotic atmosphere, but it will clearly communicate to the Kids who have been screwing around that we mean business with this thing, and they can’t just take my kindness for weakness.  A lot of the Street Kids were like that, too. They saw me as a pushover, and that shit’s gotta stop.  The ones who are good know who they are.  Their loyalty will be not be forgotten.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.