Saturday night I was asked to sit in with a band my friend Amelia pulled together at Rockwood Music Hall. I haven’t had too many opportunities of late to play with a band and since I had a quiet weekend planned, I thought it would be a nice addition. So I agreed and joined the ensemble cast. I played the keyboard and since it was a lot of original work, played decently for the parts requiring a keyboardist. I didn’t get any solos but handled the bridges to a few songs without error. After we played half a set and took a break, I went to the bar to get a drink. I wasn’t being paid for my part but did get free drinks so I was able to down a few gins while relaxing and taking in the sounds and sights at the place. While chilling until we were going back on stage, I was approached by several people who asked me if I used to play solo or with a small band at the Continental and Max Fish back in the mid to late 90s (sounds freaking old, huh?). I confirmed that I did and than they went on to say they remember catching me play and how I sound much better now than I did then. Weird backhanded compliment but I took it in stride and said thanks. One girl went on in detail how she remembered I played some difficult pieces and it was obvious I was overwhelmed by the music but still it was a valiant effort. Soon enough, each person chimed in that I had attempted to play songs and perform like someone I wasn’t but to hear me now they noticed that I’ve mellowed out with age and play within my skills. Another girl whom I think realized that it was sounding harsh then complimented me that no one in their group could ever play up to my level and I had balls to perform in public. I was gracious and thanked them for remembering me. Then, I was told why I was memorable. It happened to be that I was the first and only guy with from an Indian heritage they had ever seen or perform live music at a bar in NYC. Apparently I was the minority among the other musicians who played the circuit. I had to laugh out loud cause it wasn’t my “talent” that stuck out but it was “me” who stuck out. I joked that I hope I made people realize that we are more than just doctors, newspaper stand owners and Apu from the Simpsons. That got a laugh and we joked some more before I returned to the stage to finish out the set with the rest of the band.
When I was going to leave, I spoke to Amelia to thank her for the opportunity. She said she heard through the grape-vine that I needed a pick me up and knew music would always make me feel better. She was right, music did help pick up my spirits after my recent relationship demise but the same time it was also talking to people who remembered me from those days when I looking back life seemed so much simpler. Everyone was doing well, the country was doing well, it was a freaking love fest. Now, I looked outside the hall and it felt like that spirit was gone. Everyone has issues, the country is doing poorly and there is strife in the world. True, the good old days weren’t always good and tomorrow isn’t bad as it seems but to recapture some of what we had in the past would make the issues we deal with today a whole lot better. Much like me playing a piano nowadays where I am no longer trying to be someone else (i.e. Bill Joel, Elton John, Scott Joplin, etc) but I still try to recapture the magic that made those days special. I wish we all would recapture that magic of long ago. It would make this world a better place