I had an epiphany yesterday. I was playing a regular gig for a local senior community and realized why honky-tonk, saloon-style piano playing sounds the way it does.
What does this charming senior community have in common with a swinging saloon, you ask?
Well, at least this: it's hard to hear the music!
I don't bring any sound equipment for this gig - no microphone, no amplification. We're going for that "intimate" atmosphere. I saddle up the ancient upright and folks pull their chairs around and we're off. At the end of an hour I find I am hoarse from belting my vocals, and I play the heck out of that piano, worrying that the folks at the back won't hear me over the pleasant chatter of staff passing out drinks (not the saloon kind, as far as I know) and residents greeting one another. It's a memory care unit, and the residents are so wonderful I cannot even express it - but it is a bit noisier than most of my performances.
So I find myself doing the following dance to avoid dead air time at all costs:
(A piano player walks into a senior community...)