Sunday, October 27, 2013

‘Nother Night in Nashville

A week ago Friday, Mrs. S and I made the trip to Nashville for a break from the home renovations (kind of) to see Chris Botti. We changed it up this time and ended up behind the stage, which takes a lot of walking to get to. You definitely get a different perspective up there behind the stage.

I wish I could just eat my dinner instead of photographing every plate that comes to the table. (@Etch Restaurant)
It was great to hear Chris, Billy Kilson, and a great band with a great pianist (more in a minute) and while I do enjoy the tunes, which he’s been playing in more or less this exact format for more or less ten years now, 300 days a year (according to him), I did feel things were getting just a little on the stale side. Then he changed it up.

What I could see from my seat.
He brought out Sy Smith, who I certainly didn't expect to see but who I was excited to see. She’s a tremendous singer. Just tremendous. The show was enjoyable, make no mistake about it, but I’m hoping Chris puts together a different set soon and brings back Mark Whitfield on guitar. That would be awesome.
A blurry shot of me with bassist Richie Goods
After the show we hung around and got pictures with Chris and some of his band members, plus a bunch of autographs on a bunch of CD’s and DVD’s. I got to talk with Geoffrey Keezer for a little bit. Now, I’d never heard of this guy until that night, but I’ll tell you right now: I’m going to keep my eyes open for this guy. He’s amazing. During his solo on Flamenco Sketches, I managed to catch a little bit of Waltz for Debby, and then, Fascinating Rhythm. Of course, I asked him how he managed to work those two songs, one in a different time signature, into his solo, and he gave a typical genius pianist’s answer: “I don’t know. And, you’ll probably never hear me do that ever again.” Yep, amazing.

Me and Mr. Keezer. Goodness, this guy's a fantastic pianist.
The next day was back to the renovation, picking up some IKEA furniture at an IKEA agent outside of Nashville. We even made time to stop at the Steinway Gallery and see a bunch of pianos I’m not going to buy. (The Yamaha C3 they had was excellent. I’d’ve bought it if it was 25% cheaper than the price quoted me. Sigh.)

The shot before this one included Mrs. S. I made Chris smile when she got confused and I said, "Beat it!"
Back home, it was back to the renovations, listening and thinking about jazz, and getting slowly closer to my own piano. That’s it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

First room renovation finished: Composer’s Study

About one month ago, the installation of our hardwood floors was completed. Although the room where the grand piano will go (the Dining Room turned Music Room) was not one of those having flooring installed, it was one of those that was commandeered for storing junk while the floors were installed in the other rooms. It was during this time, with the digital piano on the new wool rug in the Music Room, that I discovered the rug was shedding, severely. So severely in fact, that Mrs. S and I made a decision that we did not want to put the grand piano on that rug. This more or less forced us to paint my study to match that rug (the same color scheme as the Music Room), and that was finally completed three weekends ago.

The view through the doorway from the hallway, into the room and out the window.
After painting, the space looked great but there was one glaring deficiency: my “desk”. We decided there was no sense in putting an old bashed up IKEA table in that room. A proper desk was needed for a proper work space. The table went to the curb. (It was gone in twenty minutes.)

The view from the left corner back toward the work space, drink at the ready.
Unfortunately, the desk that I liked (and that Mrs. S had picked out) which had been on sale was back to its regular price of about double its sale price. I was bemoaning my hesitance over Sunday breakfast and the Sudoku puzzle, when Mrs. S noticed the same desk was back on sale … for $20 less than before. We ordered one online (taking advantage of an additional $10 online coupon) and I went and picked it up that morning. After finishing up the painting, I also painted the backs of the bookcases with the last of the paint (saving another can for touch up and future projects) and installed those. I moved the rug in and started building my desk. Two days later, the desk and hutch were finished and I moved my piano into the room. My Composer’s Study, which is also my practice room (for now), was finished - or so we thought - and I was ready to brag about it on this blog. 

The composer's work space. Drink at the right, piano at the left and hooked to the computer, conveniently located right in the middle.
Along the way and before that entry, we had an issue with the media storage we bought. After staining it a light green to match Mrs. S's study, she decided she didn't like it. Since we had leftover paint, I painted it the same color as my room. We painted the trim two different colors, finally settling on white. That piece was installed in the Composer's Study, which was a more logical location for it anyway. We had to have extra shelves made, but once we did, and once we painted and installed them, and then piled a ton of CD's on them, the first room in the renovation was complete. (That is, if you don’t count the master bedroom, which had actual flooring installed but which did not get any other modifications, other than minor cosmetic and decorating details.)

We have a few CD's in our collection.
I can’t tell you how relieved we are to have one room finished. We continue to throw out books and junk to leave us a little space on the bookshelves to be creative and decorative. We are being pretty relentless about getting rid of marginal stuff. The effect on the house and our living space is noticeable. All the better to prepare for the ultimate goal of installing a grand piano.

And so we inch closer and closer, as we further come to grips with our changing (changed?) values and future desires.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Change of plans, again

Just like my attempted square grand piano renovation, our house renovation that is being undertaken in the interest of providing us a conducive space for placing a baby grand piano and using it to make music is fraught with too many steps in the opposite direction. With the square grand refurb, most of the time the problem lie with the piano itself and not with the restorer (me). With the house renovation, most of the “setbacks” are due to myself and Mrs. S, mostly because as we are pushing ahead with the projects, we are also coming to grips with our aging sensibilities and changes in taste. Of course, sometimes, the house (or the things in it) is the culprit, just as with the piano.
Roosevelt contemplates becoming a "curio", during phase two of "how would this look over there?" furniture move.
The latest problem, the rug we selected for the music room, is a case in point. It’s a nice rug. It wasn't cheap. It’s 100% wool, “hand-tufted” (whatever that means), and is a perfect color scheme for a music room. So much so, we painted the music room (our converted dining room) to match it. Imagine my dismay then when I realized that the rug is shedding uncontrollably, enough so that when I sit down at my digital piano placed at one end of the room, I can notice little tiny black wool hairs accumulating on the keys. That’s fine as far as my six year old, couple-a-hundred digital piano goes. It’s not viable for when I get my grand. We did, however, paint the room to compliment the rug.

The Music Room, essentially finished ... until we decided it wasn't.
What to do?

Well, we've decided to move the rug to my study. That means painting yet another room that we had not planned on painting. It also means we have to find another rug to match the music room paint color (because we sure as hell aren't painting that room again). Fortunately, the rug that was originally our “dining room” rug more or less fits that color scheme, so we can actually get away with putting it back in place. The grand piano will make permanent impressions in it once it is put down, and we were trying to avoid that, but then I thought, Why? What’s the point of having stuff if you can’t enjoy it? And besides, ten or twenty years from now, are we going to even care? (Again, coming to grips with aging sensibilities here.)

The Composer's Study, pre-paint job and furniture re-install.
That means, however, we have to find a nice living room rug. No small task that, as it is no small room. In the meantime, chores continue to get knocked out, but new ones keep piling on. Knocked out: Painting the music room. Added on: Painting the study. Knocked out, painting the study. Added on: painting the small study. Knocked out, painting the small study closet. Added on: moving the book cases. Knocked out: moving the book cases. Added on: moving the CD rack. Knocked out: moving the CD rack. Added on: installing bookcases in the study closet, including removing the closet doors and fascia. Knocked out, removing doors and fascia. Added on: installing bookcases in that closet.

You get the idea.

And, we are tossing so much stuff, our recycling and garbage guys are probably plotting something for us by now. If they saw the quantity of stuff we have lined up for donation, they wouldn't complain about the garbage (especially since most of the donation stuff is books, i.e. heavy).

When my square grand piano renovation went too far south on me, I gave up and turned it into a more than serviceable decorative bar, which I still consider as a success.  

I declare this as the booziest piano in the world.
With all the changes of plans in this current project, although I know I’ll still be left with a house and (probably) a grand piano, just like the square grand project, I don’t know what’s in store for me along the way. We’ll just have to keep pressing on and see where it gets me.