It was the day of the Goodman event. All our energy and focus was on getting ready for the night. A couple walks in. With that tourist look. The man bald, round, short sleeved shirt tail out over shorts. The woman open, pleasant, warm. What’s up?
Tells me they were having lunch down the street at a pub. Met a man. Long white hair and a cowboy hat. (OK, now I’ve got it…) Asked him if there were a piano bar around, someplace he could play awhile. He told them the days of piano bars were long gone, but... there’s a church up the street, a pastor…
I smile. Lead them into the sanctuary. Take them to the Beckstein. He sits down, I go back to my work, hearing him playing show tunes, standards, a little rag time. After an hour or so, they come to my office. Introduce themselves. From Ottawa. James. And Wendy. Like Peter Pan, the man in the pub said.
James asks what kind of music we have at the church. I tell them that if they come back later, they just might find out. I tell them about the Goodman event. And Jeremy and the singers and the gospel and freedom songs to come. They just might be back.
Later that night as the crowd is streaming in to the church, I’m on the steps. And here come James and Wendy, clothes changed, smiling. I greet them warmly, tell them I’m happy to see them.
After the event, they are ecstatic. It’s been a great night. Never could have imagined, a rich experience of American history....Did I know where RL was? I direct James to where the studio is. A little while later, I see him back downstairs, ready to leave.
Did you find him?
Oh, I went to the door, heard music coming out, didn’t want to disturb him.
That’s actually an invitation, I say.
RL appears on the stairs. Invites James and Wendy up for a cold beer. I tell him I’ll be up in a bit. After I wrap things up, I head to the studio.
There’s RL. And Mandola Joe. Instruments out and at the ready. RL hands me a guitar. And we take turns playing songs. James mentions Leonard Cohen, so I play Tonight will be fine…James shares some barrel house piano. We get RL’s best…Pinto, Wrestling winds, and inevitably stay awhile. . RL signs some CD’s, shares some Dusty Withers badges. There are smiles and handshakes all around. They afe really glad they came here instead of Carnegie Hall. The most amazing New York vacation story ever, Another West-Park story.
The next day, they’d look up RL again. And bring flowers for Harvey, the wife….
RL Haney songs and Dusty Withers...