D'ville Tom Sez...

Moving Forward 

I should have gotten three or four of those stickers, just to make my other-party friends nervous, but I actually only voted once today.

At the polling place, I noticed a wrapped-up grand piano, and began to experience that feeling again, the one that seized me in a number of European railroad stations last year, but I decided that sitting down and serenading the voting process would be a less than optimum gesture, and if I was doing to be arrested at the polls, I would prefer that if be for hurling a cream pie in Mitch McConnell's face—you know, something that would actually do some good for the country.

Then I wondered: if I DID decide to play the piano while people exercised their constitutional right to vote, inappropriate though that might have been today, what song would I have chosen to play? A song of my boss's? America?  Play Me? It seemed to me that we'd been played enough lately by that character in Washington. Then it then occurred to me that a fine bipartisan choice might be that  lovely tune by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse: "Who Can I Turn To?" 

The moment passed with no further action other than the voting itself, but that was enough. I went home and rewarded myself for performing my civic duty by eating a fine ginger cookie. Hope you all did the same.


The French Connection 

If you look closely you may be able to pick out Tim, Cathy, Sarah and Tom Hensley at the breakfast table, speaking French. Why this? Why now? Well, therein lies a tale. 

In 2016, Tim’s epic anecdotal biography of Alfred Hitchcock, “Sir Alfred No. 3,” was published by Fantagraphics in a limited signed and numbered edition of 1000. Of course, those all sold out, and are now appearing on collector sites at silly, inflated prices (I saw it on eBay for $499.99). 

But as of the 14th, you’re in luck—at least if you happen to be able to read French—because the French edition of Sir Alfred No. 3 drops that day. The artwork above is from part of the expanded content, an “about the artist” section which is as apocryphal as the Hitchcock content and equally entertaining. For only 14.99 Euros, it appears. In the second panel, Sarah is upset because Tim has expressed his long-concealed desire to do office work. (By the way, in the strip I am the pianist for singer Perry Como. Tim's artistic license has been renewed.)

The publisher is Dargaud, the same French outfit that released the original graphic novel version of “The Death of Stalin,” which later became the funniest movie of last year. 

Here’s a link to the Dargaud page for Sir Alfred:

And here's the same page, roughly translated into English


At Work and At Play 

Parade Magazine has posted a lovely video of our performance of Cherry Cherry at the Greek Theatre in 2012, from the upcoming (the 17th) release of Hot August Night III. The band is featured in this video, so I have an airtight alibi for that night, even if you claim to have security camera footage of me stealing your hubcaps.


Dueling Invisible Pianists 

After Alan Lindgren retired from touring in 2012, his rele in the band went to Mark Le Vang, who did a great job. The photo above was taken at Calgary's National Music Centre, just one more thing Canada has figured out that continues to elude this country. The photo shows Mark and I sharing a piano in a non-traditional way.

In our mutual backgrounds, Mark and I share another thing which you may not be aware of. At one time, each of us was an invisible pianist. Let me explain:

One of Mark's early gigs was playing and taking requests from visitors to the Magic Castle in Hollywood. The Castle is a club for magicians, frequently visited by tourists who can finagle an invitation, and a very entertaining spot on its own. One of its features is "Irma," an invisible pianist (who was actually Mark, behind a wall and unseen by the audience.) Irma would communicate by means of little piano flourishes, and playing songs, some by request, and some whose titles became part of the conversation.

I learned about this fascinating part of Mark's history after we'd been on the road for a while, and I had to share with him a similarly bizarre part of my employment history:

A year or so before I was asked to become part of Neil Diamond's band, I was playing on a television game called "Name That Tune." One of my duties was the "Bid a Note" section of the show, in which the contestant would bid on the number of notes it would take him or her to recognize a song. If the bid was, for example four notes, I would play the first four notes of the  melody on the piano. The funky old, otherwise unused, piano and my fingers were shown in a small circle at the top of the TV screen. Otherwise, I was not seen.

So Mark and I had that shared experience, but I one-upped him. A few years later, on a hiatus from the tour, I played piano on the pilot for the series "2½ Men." Like Mark at the Magic Castle, I was on the back side of a wall. But in this case, the other side of the wall was occupied by Charlie Sheen, who was pretending to write jingles at the piano. I was required to do a kind of mind meld that would allow me to intuit what Charlie would play if he was actually playing.

In retrospect, doing a mind-meld with Charlie Sheen doesn't seem like the safest kind of mental activity, but it seemed to go pretty well. However, by the time the series was picked up, the hidden piano conceit was gone, so I was unneeded. Also gone was the fine Broadway actress Blythe Danner, who had played the part of Charlie's mother. She had been replaced by Holland Taylor.

The Larry King Show 

For the last thirty years, I've published a newsletter on each show day. One recurring feature of the PBI, as it was known, was The Larry King Show, a comic strip about the adventures of saxophonist Larry Klimas and percussionist King Errisson. Here is one such strip, a study of the variety of snack items provided on one of our charter jet flights.