After I got back to Omaha and washed up and changed shirts to go back out, I found out I had some time on my hands before going to the 5:00 PM Saturday service at the church I attend.
So...I went to the Midtown Crossing Shopping Center to check out a piano I'd heard on YouTube.
Like that 1916 Bush & Gerts upright at Sweatshop Gallery, the Midtown Crossing piano isn't officially one of the "Play Me, I'm Yours" instruments.
But it's still some kind of fun to play!
Midtown Crossing's piano is a Werner upright from the second half of the 1920s, and it's found in the garden space of the shopping center. (The garden space is between Prairie Life Fitness, a restaurant known as the Black Oak Grill, and another restaurant, Crave.)
On www.youtube.com, a teenager named Isabella turned in snippets of two classical pieces she played on this Werner upright. And they sounded great!
Ragtime greats Del Wood and fellow Tennessean Johnny Maddox would've really enjoyed playing ol' Werner, because it's got that real "honky tonk" sound.
It's also got a palette- with real dabs of paint and a real brush next to the palette- right in the middle of the music rack. What's more, the design team led by an artist named Larry Roots replaced the wood of the music rack with Plexiglas (so that you can actually see the hammers).
Well, I spent an hour playing this piano, starting out with "Tennessee Waltz" and "That's All Right" before going through some much older pieces...like "The Entertainer" and the one that made Del famous, "Down Yonder."
All this time, I was able to get the attention of quite a few passersby...such as a security guard named Derek and a woman named Lisa, who lives in the apartment complex next to the shopping center. (Lisa played the piano until getting in an accident...otherwise, she would've done her version of "Fur Elise.")
Three little boys- one named Pedro, another named Gustavo, and the name of the third escapes me- tried the C-E-F-G trick I started showing people a week earlier.
Then after the boys left the garden space, the audience changed over to four teenage girls- Sydney, Cindy, Liz, and Prithee.
Of the four of them, only Prithee had had any prior contact with piano playing...so she ended up coming over to the Werner upright, where she played the first part of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Minuet in G." (This is the same piece 1960s songwriters Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell transformed into "A Lover's Concerto," a 1965 Number Two pop hit- and Number Four R&B hit- for a singing group called the Toys.)
Well, by 4:38 PM, I had to pack it in.
But I really DO want to get back to Midtown Crossing to play that "honky tonk" piano before they take it away.
After all, I'm itching to do "The Crazy Otto." (That's the rag that not only put Johnny on the map, but did the same for its originator, Fritz Schulz-Reichel, the original "Crazy Otto.")