Steve (#779) 02-03-15

The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County has a neat project, Sarasota Keys. Several decorated pianos are placed along downtown streets for anyone to play. Just sit down and go to it! See it HERE.

Steve was sitting down and going to it, next to the Clasico Cafe and Bar. I heard him from half a block away, and it sounded like classical music, although I couldn't recognize any of it. When I arrived at the origin of the sound, an unlikely looking pianist was at work. His bicycle was propped against the piano and he wore a shirt that said “Wilhelm Landscaping.” It was a work shirt, well soiled, as were his hands and fingernails. The fingers worked furiously and sometimes crossed themselves in awkward ways. But the music was great. It is original, Steve composes all of it – no wonder that I did not recognize it. He cannot read a note of music. But more amazing is that it is not memorized, he makes it up on the spot. “I taught myself the chords, and I know which notes go with them, so I just make this up as I go along. A pianist watched me once and said that I have the notes and chords right, but I use the wrong fingers.” And they are gnarled, laborer's fingers at that.

The Cafe outdoor patrons are right next to the piano. Steve says that management runs off people playing poorly for any length of time, but that they love him and his music. I guess! He ought to be on the payroll; he is not. Steve is 49 and has been playing since a small child. He has had a few brief gigs at bars, but has not been able to make a living at it. He just loves playing.