Saturday, October 13, 2007

My lounge act

A number of composers have an alternative stage act, one in which the line between serious music and entertainment is cheerfully violated. Chris Newman, for example, a composer/poet/artist with a "legitimate" pedigree (let's call it Kagel meets Feldman, throw in some music hall comedy, and leave it at that), has had a minor but successful career singing his own songs, among which the cycle New Songs of Social Conscience (including the very cheerful "Good Day After Good Orgasm") is perhaps his magnum opus. Sometimes the alternative act includes and entire alternative identity: Peter Schickele's professorial recitals of the music of P.D.Q. Bach, Robert Sheff's lounge-room Liberace, "Blue" Gene Tyrrany, and Gareth Farr's drag queen drummer Lilith LaCroix are well-known.

Sometimes -- and just as a day job, mind you -- I've considered adopting a stage persona of my own. My Junior High band director , Mr. Johnson, once insisted that anyone could make a living as a lounge piano player if they had Indian Love Call, As Time Goes By, and Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'round the Old Oak Tree under their fingers, which is probably still sound advice, if you substitute something a bit more recent for the Indian Love Call (the number of old lovers who want to relive their Yosemite Firefall honeymoons over cocktails is now probably safely reduced). I took his advice and assembled my own little book of stylings for standards, but have never actually been called into barroom service. With sober reflection, this is probably for the best, as I'd make a preposterous stage presence. (Ron Kuivila once wanted to put me on stage as a character named "Not Michael Jackson", which just about sums things up: a 6'4" person of natural pallor, and someone who you really do not want to see dance.)


docker said...

"someone who you really do not want to see dance."

Ah, I can relate.

Decades ago, as a music student at the Califinstiforniafartisitute, somehow I happened to be at a party sitting at a table with the trumpet instructor (a gentleman named Mario Guarneri). Dancing was happening elsewhere in the room.

I watched as some sweet young thing asked him to dance. He replied "Musicians Don't Dance."

It's been my motto ever since. (well, one of my mottos)

Dennis said...

Hi, Daniel ... I have a persona for my extended voice pieces. I'm "Grey Shadé" when I do those, wearing all grey with my grey hair and dark grey sunglasses. Much fun.


sfmike said...

I still haven't gotten over John Kelly channeling Joni Mitchell in live performance almost better than Joni Mitchell performing as herself. I think you need to find a similar alter-ego for your fabulous cabaret.

Lindsey Sheridan said...

Hi Daniel,

My name is Lindsey and I live in the States. I found your post through searching for "Indian Love Call". Did you know that you can't buy a copy of the sheet music for Indian Love Call if you live in the US. Which is odd if you ask me.

My nana's 90th birthday is next month, and the only song she used to play on the piano was Indian Love Call. I would like to play it for her on her birthday. This is a long shot, but would y ou want to send me a scanned copy of the sheet music? I know that it probably isn't 'legal', but she is 90, that has got to count for something :)



Daniel Wolf said...


you can buy the sheet music for Indian Love Call online here: