Meet Tony. I met him on a recent business trip to Philadelphia. On my last day I found out about this amazing place called the Reading Market (pronounce that Redding, or Philadelphians will mock you). The Reading Market is a big series of food vendors in the old Reading Railroad Station – you name a good ethnic food, and you’ll be able to buy it there. My favorites where the Amish vendors, everything I tasted from them was extraordinary – but more about them in another blog entry.
In between a couple of the vendors was this little area you could sit down to eat. There was this old beat up piano there (with a wood plaque screwed directly into the side of the piano with sheet metal screws thanking the donor of the piano) and Tony just going to town.
He played off the top of his head with no music at all. He was laying down some of the most dense arpeggio laden blues, jazz, and pop that I had ever heard. I heard him long before I saw him, and I was drawn to him just to see how many pianos were being played at once!
He saw me taking his photo, I think he could hear the shutter clicking. Every time he heard the shutter he’d smile, so I started doubling up. Click, smile, click again. Then he’d laugh, all the while never missing a beat.
He took a break and I asked for his email address so I could send him a photo or two, and we had a chance to talk. His love for music was apparent – he just couldn’t help smiling ear to ear as we talked about music, and his ability to play. Tony has been playing in the Philadelphia area for twenty years. He doesn’t own his own piano, but he has a number of places with public pianos that let him come play for tips.
Simply playing for the love of music. Tony’s a good guy, sharing his gift for next to nothing. He’s one of those people that makes it worth the journey.