Play Something Pretty That You Like is my in-progress memoir of the past two decades entertaining Community Venue (TM) audiences – the folks who spend their days in senior homes, nursing homes, facilities for the disabled, hospitals and prisons.
The title derives from a request that I used to get from a sweet little lady at Heritage Hall in Charlottesville, VA where this all began. The ladies there would always ask me to play songs that I didn’t know and had little desire to learn…
“Play The Old Rugged Cross!”
“Gosh, I don’t know that one.”
“Play In the Garden”
“Gosh, I don’t know that one either.”
And then this sweet little lady showed up in the audience one evening, and for her few remaining months with us she would always say…
“That’s okay, young man. You play something pretty that YOU like!”
One day, not long before she left this earth she confided in me that I always got those same requests for ancient gospel songs because “…that’s all we ever hear”. I nodded.
“Aren’t there a lot of young musicians in this town?”
“But you’re the only one that comes to play for us; the only one who seems to know we’re not stuck somewhere in our past. Thank you for that.”
To this day I continue to honor that lady and her lovely request, because I know that if I play something pretty that I like, the musical magic takes over.
Play Something Pretty That you Like must also touch on the ten of those twenty years that I spent advocating on behalf of these audiences, demonstrating their professional and artistic viability. I must wonder, in print, why contemporary musicians systematically ignore and deprive so many music lovers of music’s true life value.
In twenty years I feel as though I’ve got a pretty good handle on the deeply ingrained American artistic mindset that yields this undeniably inhuman result, and Play Something Pretty That you Like will both speak to that and, I hope, serve to begin to shift the paradigm.