Day 6: Jazz club in Sassenheim
Room full of jazz fans. They had an upright piano but attached a mirror to the top so you could see the fingers move. I played most of the concert solo but enjoyed spicing things up for several tunes with alto sax wiz Ronald Haijtmajer.
I also had time to stroll around the small town of Sassenheim and eat Indonesian food. While on my little stroll, I heard church bells playing "Home on the Range." That caught me by surprise, as I hadn't seen a single deer or antelope in Sassenheim.
That was my final gig on this trip. Hope to make it back again before too long. This amazing experience was all made possible by Marcel Bouwmeester, who is president of the Netherlands Classic Jazz Concert Club. He and his wife Coco hosted me all week long. Dank je well and tot sienz!
Day 5: Amsterdam
Today I did a house concert in Amsterdam which was around the corner from the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum, and Concertgebouw.
At the house concert, one lady introduced herself to me after the concert as Xaviera Hollander. She is renowned for her 1972 bestselling memoir: The Happy Hooker. I am pleased to report that in 2016, Ms. Hollander is still happy. Although at some point she made a career change. Now she runs a bed and breakfast.
This was a tiny museum in the old Jewish quarter of Amsterdam. The museum was a quirky little place with lots of great piano knick-knacks from days of yore.
The concert went great, it was a full house (although a tiny intimate house). And I should mention that on the flight from the USA to Amsterdam, I sat next to Cecil, a Canadian neurologist who was to spend a year working in an Amsterdam hospital.
We became friends and he and his wife came to this show! Also, I wore a bowtie with wooden shoes (klompen) on it. Much more comfortable than wearing actual klompen.
Day 3: Utrecht
A house concert in Utrecht - in a beautiful home by the canals. I played "Ain't Misbehavin" as my last song and I dedicated it to my wife, Kate, lest she be concerned I would misbehave in Amsterdam's red light district unsupervised.
A lady from the audience just hopped up and sang it with me! I liked that. It meant that people were having a good time and felt comfortable to break traditional house-concert rules a little bit.
Afterwards I had delicious Dutch apple pie, homemade by one of the concert attendees. If you are curious, the original Dutch apple pie has lots of crust while its American apple pie cousin has a lot of apple-goo in the middle.
Day 2: Boogie Woogie in Apeldoorn
I went to Apeldoorn for a show with a pianist named Eeco Rijken Rapp. Eeco is a killer boogie woogie pianist and swings like nobody's business. There was a full house at the Brasserie de Manege, and we played a bunch of solos, 2-piano duets, and we had drums (David Herzel) and a sax (Ronald Haijtmajer).
The only video I have so far from the show is from a duet with Ronald. Its of a Bix Beiderbecke/Frank Trumbauer song called "Krazy Kat." Its pretty obscure. That's what I liked about playing with Ronald, he loves digging up songs from deep in the vault.
Welcome to my new blog! I felt like I needed a place to share all of the stories from my life as a full-time professional ragtime pianist. No better time to start than with my trip to the Netherlands.
Day 1: US Embassy in the Hague. The ambassador just resigned so I took the liberty of appointing myself ambassador for the evening.
I wore my USA flag bowtie to honor my home country. And to honor the Netherlands, I played a popular Dutch waltz called "Tulpen uit Amsterdam." First I played it the Dutch way, then the Scott Joplin way, then the Jelly Roll Morton way, and then the Fats Waller way. Looks like one of the audience members posted the Jelly Roll variation on Twitter. Check it out!
Music, stories and thoughts from an old-time piano player.