How many email accounts do you have? Because I have enough to choke six horses. And the passwords they rode in on. I can’t keep up with them. I’m drowning in emails. And social media accounts. And texts.
Calgon! Take me awayyyyy! Do they even still make Calgon?
We are so much alike, you and I. Busy busy busy, working ourselves up into anxious blobs of lather. I mean, what are we doing with our lives?! Let’s make a promise to ourselves that we will calm the hell down and focus on what life is really about: peace, love and chocolate lava cakes, am I right???
Until two days ago, I had never been to the Harris Center in Folsom and holy smokes, it’s gorgeous. Acoustically gorgeous, anyway, all curved panels from floor to ceiling to diffuse unwanted sound waves and whatever other sound design terminology my husband was craning his neck to see and going on about before the Jim Brickman Joyful Christmas concert started.
Oh! And speaking of Jim Brickman, I met him before the show. (By the way, in order to avoid getting arrested by the blogging police, I must disclose that I received complimentary tickets and a CD/DVD.)
I thought of questions to ask him just for you guys, and I didn’t want to ask anything stupid, like, “Where do you get your inspiration?”, because I hear artists hate that question. And I didn’t want to ask, “So what’s it like working with [Five for Fighting/Martina McBride/Kermit the Frog/etc.]”. Because, BORRRRRRING!!! Everyone has asked him that already.
I walk up to him, say hello, and put out my hand which he shakes. Crap! Should I not have done that? I mean, he’s a pianist for chrissakes! His hands are his bread and butter. He is like a brain surgeon for hammers and strings. He can’t be shaking a bunch of hands before a concert! What if I had a vice-like grip? What was I thinking???
Great, so I’m off to a wonderful start. How much time do I have? Oh jeez, there’s a line behind me. My heart begins to race and my well-thought out plan explodes like a pressurized can of snakes. What should I ask, what should I ask, what should I ask?
Do I go for funny? Is he in a funny mood? Or is he in some pre-concert headspace? Should I be serious like some professional? Do I ask just one question? Can I get away with two?
My husband is off to the side capturing it all on my cell phone. But do I take even half a second to introduce him? No. Because I am the Hillary Swank of bloggers. So that would be faux pas #2.
I introduce myself and surprisingly he says, “Yes. You have a blog.”
I have a blog! He knows I have a blog! Woo hoo! I tell him the name of my blog because:
A. sometimes people laugh when I say it out loud, and
B. when I put a goat in his hands later, it will make at least a modicum of sense later. Maybe.
So what do you ask a multi-platinum artist who has collaborated with the likes of Kenny Rogers and Carly Simon, has no doubt agreed to thousands of interviews, and has been asked every question in the Universal Journalism Interview database? Plus, he has no idea who you are and for all he knows, you’re some weirdo blogger who has come to create an excruciatingly awkward moment 30 minutes before he takes the stage.
“Do you know who Puddles Pity Party is?” I hear myself blurt out.
“No,” he says.
Dang. What a stupid question. I feel like the idiot who has already blown her first wish with the genie asking for a million bucks only to have many, many, herds of deer suddenly show up on my lawn. Why would he know who Puddles Pity Party is, anyway? He’s a songwriter/pianist/radio show host. Not a whole lot in common with a clown who covers pop songs. Ugh.
I want to make some absurd remark (because once I get rolling on the awkward bus, I like to ride it to the end of the line) about how he must have ladies throwing their underwear on stage because, he is a bit on the attractive side, and I’d heard he had a loyal following of women of a certain age so, you know, it could be a compliment and humorous, killing two birds with one stone sort of thing.
And speaking of female fans, I would like to coin a phrase right here, right now:
You know how Chris Pine has his Pine Nuts? And Benedict Cumberbatch has his Cumber Bitches? Jim Brickman now has Brick Chicks, thanks to me.
But I probably shouldn’t say anything about panties on stage here at the meet & greet. I don’t want to get kicked off the bus before it even pulls away from the curb.
“So, um, I hear your biggest demographic is middle-aged women?” Don’t say panties on stage. Don’t say panties on stage. Don’t say panties on stage.
“No,” he says, “actually my audience is varied.”
Dang. Well of course it’s varied. Weddings all over the world incorporate his music. He’s America’s Most Romantic Pianist in the World. Couples make babies with him playing softly in the background. Massage therapists create tranquil atmospheres in low-lit, incense-filled rooms. About a bazillion young aspiring musicians want to learn how to play like him.
Now I feel like the idiot who has blown her second wish asking the genie to take away all the deer (who are now eating all the acorns and pooping everywhere).
I’ve lost count of the faux pas by now. I feel the people behind me sending their “ok-lady-wrap-it-up” vibes, so I desperately try for one last attempt at journalism.
“So, do you receive a lot of gifts from fans?”
“Yes,” he says.
Yay! A Yes! Woo hoo! Now follow it up! Don’t be stupid! Don’t say panties on stage!
“What’s the craziest gift you ever got?”
He didn’t even hesitate. “A live dove.”
I decide to quit on a positive note and introduce him to Lacy, the Nanny Goats in Panties mascot. And I ask if he will hold her while I get a photo with him. No risk of hand injury since she’s plush. Plus I’ve told everyone I know on social media that this was my goal for the evening. And thank the ebony and ivory gods, he said yes again.
Then out in the lobby, I meet Reggie. A REAL Jim Brickman fan. Like a for-the-last-twenty-plus-years Jim Brickman fan. He may even have Brickmania, if I can coin another phrase.
When Reggie heard Brickman’s “The Gift” in 1997, it so resonated with him that he ran out and bought the sheet music so he could play it himself (for me it was “Rainbow Connection”, but we aren’t talking about me right now, are we.) And then when Brickman’s next album came out, Reggie bought the sheet music for that. And Brickman kept making albums and Reggie kept buying sheet music. Reggie has been to at least eight Jim Brickman concerts.
“I’ve read his book,” Reggie told me, “and I believe in what he says about how stress is such a big deal in our society. It’s through his music that I find peace and comfort.”
Playing Brickman’s music is like therapy for him. It helps him relax. And he spreads the Brickman gospel to all his friends who will listen. He got a bunch of stuff signed at the Meet & Greet.
“But I’m going to give them as gifts,” he said.
He plans to send them to friends and other aspiring piano players because he believes the music should be shared and hopes it inspires others the way it inspired him.
The way “The Gift” inspired him twenty-one years ago. (See what I did there? He’s sharing gifts? Jim Brickman has a song called The Gift? It’s a whole play on words…oh never mind)
Anyway, the concert was awesome to say the least. Brickman’s banter between songs is my kinda witty and none of that overacting garbage. Nice and subtle. And his performance was energetic yet intimate. And his talking voice is different, lower, than his singing voice. Like Barry White one minute, Adam Levine the next. And his solo dueling pianos bit? You have to see it to appreciate it.
I’d tell you more, but I’m already blowing surprises that were part of the enjoyment for me and I’d smack you if you had told me this ahead of time.
His next tour kicks off this month in Hawaii. You can track down his whereabouts on the Jim Brickman Tour Page.
Or check out his Joyful Christmas CD/DVD. He has released approximately eleventy million CDs, but maybe you can start with “The Gift”, like Reggie did and be struck by some Brickmania of your own.
Then draw yourself a Calgon bath, pop on some Jim Brickman and breathe.
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