I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for street musicians. I mean, there’s something special about playing music without a net. No back-up, no sound system.
Last week I was enjoying a cool fall day having lunch at the Capitol Market, pretty much by myself in the outdoor seating area. And then I heard the sound of music.
I looked up to see a young man sitting at the outdoor piano, just playing snatches of songs. He wasn’t playing anything loud, or flashy. Just playing for himself really.
After I finished my lunch, I walked down to say “Hi” and find out a little bit of his story. His name is Malik and he’s originally from South Carolina.
One of the first things I noticed about him were his hands. He had the long fingers of a pianist.
At one point, Malik played part of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” He told me he had added his own touch to the song and then he played me a snippet.
Malik said he is a musician, but I gather he hasn’t played much since he moved to West Virginia. He told me he used to come to the market every day to play the piano but said it had been a while. He works in the kitchen at a West Side restaurant.
I mentioned it was getting colder. He didn’t say he would hang it up for the winter. No, he said, “I’ll have to get some gloves.”
Most of us are deathly afraid of doing more than singing in our cars or showers — my wife will tell you that I can belt it out with gusto in the car. But I haven’t sung in front of others since high school. Even then, I was part of a choir, never the soloist.
I have just enough musical understanding to know I have no talent. I stand in awe of my musical friends — and those who play and create for the sheer joy of it. Especially those who choose to create music in public.
A while back, I was talking to author friend Sheila Redling. She said we all need to be creative without any expectations. It recharges the tanks and inspires us for other things.
I have another friend, Zack Harold, who is organizing sing-alongs at Sam’s Uptown Cafe. The next one is slated for mid-December and they will, of course, sing Christmas songs. I could probably handle being in the choir again.
Especially in the coming holiday season, with all its stresses, we should all find a piano or a choir to sing with.