Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sunday Piano Bar

Amanda Chadwick invited Terry and myself to the Sunday afternoon Piano Bar at the Parliament House (41o North Orange Blossom Trail). Kelly DeWayne Richards plays every Sunday from 1:30pm until about 4:30pm. He has a huge selection of sheet music and invites audience members to come up and sing. There is an undeniable regular crowd. Most of the singers are exceptionally talented. We muscled up to the bar as our eyes adjusted to the dark room. Amanda ordered a chocolate martini and it looked so good I wanted one. From the bar stool I started sketching. Mark Baratelli enterd and everyone shouted "Mark" Cheers style. Kelly insisted Mark step up to the mic. As he got ready to sing, an audience member got up to go to the men's room. Mark glowered at him like a diva and we all laughed. He began singing an over the top emotional rendition of "I'm Not Going" from Dream Girls. His emotional heaving breaths and despondent screams made his rendition hilarious. The crowd in the tiny room roared.

Even though I was still sketching, Kelly insisted I step up to the mic to sing "Hold 0n". Kelly told the story of how I sang this at the surprise 20th anniversary party I threw for Terry. I pulled the lyrics up on my cell phone as the audience waited. With a weak internet connection, it seemed an eternity. I whispered into the mic, testing it, "This one goes out to Terry." I missed a lyric or two but by the end I was feeling good, even the high notes were effortless. I looked at Terry then I saw people in the audience swaying and singing along. By the last refrain, the room was filled with harmony. When I finished, I assume there was polite applause. When I walked back to the bar, Terry threw her arms around my neck and kissed me. Mark shouted out, "Hey! Look everybody, straight people!" I laughed. One song isn't a free pass. It is the first step on a long road.

While I was singing, some guy had taken my bar stool. I just stood next to him throwing down quick watercolor washes. He eventually left and I regained my seat. Terry got up and sang "Being Alive" from the Sondheim musical, Company. I was surprised how soft and vulnerable her voice was. We are both frightened moving forward challenging support and independence but very much alive. Amanda and I sang "Somewhere Out There." We have had to sing it every time we are at the Sunday Piano Bar. Now that Matt Simantov, Amanda's boyfriend, is living way out in Seattle, the song has taken on a special meaning for her.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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