Village Pointe, that is.
Ever since Lisa Schlotfeld, the artist who painted the Village Pointe Shopping Center's Marshall & Wendell 1910s upright, invited me during the 8-23-2013 Memorial Park get-together that kicked off the Omaha/Council Bluffs/Bellevue "Play Me, I'm Yours" art exhibit to come out to the Omaha Metro's busiest shopping center to play for a reception two days later (only to find out I couldn't come to the reception due to a prior engagement), I'd been pointing to the first opportunity to come out to the Pointe.
The engagement that kept me away from that earlier opportunity to play the Village Pointe piano: That month's meeting of the Great Plains Ragtime Society, the folks who put on the annual Ragtime to Riches Festival.
What's more, the GPRS meeting on 8-25-2013 happened at the Pink Poodle Steakhouse, a restaurant in nearby Crescent, IA. (This landmark restaurant features, among other things, three player pianos.)
So, after twelve long days, I arrived at VP's Center Court (173rd and Davenport Sts.) at 10:28 AM on Friday, 9-6-2013...and I met up with Steven Raphael.
This time, though, Steven and I didn't have the shopping center to ourselves.
We had a pretty good crowd during the three-hour period I managed to spend at Omaha's most popular shopping center. Lots of young moms and little children passed through Center Court and listened to Steven and me...but Steven went back home around 11:45 AM.
All the while preparing for the opportunity to give ol' Marshall & Wendell a go, I kept thinking about one of the most often-quoted phrases to come out of the last twenty years: "It takes a village..."
So I picked out some songs with American cities' names in the title ("The Sidewalks of New York," "Sweet Home Chicago," "Houston," "Detroit City Blues," etc.)...when I wasn't doing railroad songs ("Wabash Cannonball," "John Henry," "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad," and so on).
By the way...the first thing I did when I got a chance to start playing was take the music rack off the piano. This not only exposes the upright's inner parts...it also brings the sound out.
And I just didn't want to hog the spotlight...so every chance I got, I'd ask passersby if any of them tickled the ivories.
It turned out that a little boy named Jack answered the call.
Result: One of Jack's exercises is now on www.youtube.com.
Speaking of exercises...when people find out you can play an instrument, some want you to teach them how to play said instrument.
I get that a lot...but I'm not really much of a teacher. Still, a man named Roland (he's on Village Pointe's maintenance staff) asked about whether or not I'd be able to teach him.
It's going to be tough for Roland and I to hook up, what with both he and I holding down hectic schedules. (Oh, well...)
Still, that C-E-F-G trick I learned early on in the local going of Luke Jerram's claim to fame is a step toward teaching someone to play the 88s. At the very least, it helps generate interest in somebody who's never played (but wanted to)...and helps those who played in the past (but gave it up) get that I've-got-chops feeling again.
Well, as big as that first Friday here in September 2013 was, the next day was even bigger.
And I'm going to talk about it in my next post.
I'm Jim Boston...and thanks for reading this blog!