Plays Well With Others

I finally did it: bought myself a portable electric keyboard that I can carry with me to jam sessions. I love playing music with friends, but since my main instrument is a piano, not having my own keyboard puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to where I can play. I obviously can’t lug my spinet everywhere I go. Most halls have either removed their pianos or don’t keep them in tune. (The hall in Ashland at one time even had the cover nailed down it was so horribly out of tune.) For a while I thought maybe I could teach myself to play fiddle, which would be a whole lot easier to carry around  than a piano, but as it turns out, the fiddle is HARD (and I already know how to play the piano).

Occasionally, if I’m lucky, one of the other keyboard players will bring their keyboard along and let others play a few tunes. Musial Wolfe is a great one for sharing, but since his wife died, he doesn’t come to the old-time jams or square dances as often as he used to. He is coming up on the first anniversary of her death, and it’s just hard for him to get out sometimes.

Several other piano players I know switched to accordions for jam sessions, but you really only need so many accordions! Besides, I don’t know how to play the “lap piano,” as they call it. The buttons are just confusing, and the whole thing with the bellows makes me feel completely uncoordinated and awkward.

Lately the members of the Two Cents String Band have been coming to my house to play music on Tuesday evenings, which has been great fun.

photo of old-time musicians playing banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and piano in the living room

Photo by Cliff White on his fancy pants new iPhone.

But when the weather turns nice again, they are going to want to go back outside to play on the patio at the Ragtag CinemaCafe/Uprise Bakery. They also play once a month at a local pub, 44 Stone Public House (supposedly named in honor of the combined weight of the owners), and the pub does not have a piano. And tonight a whole bunch of people are heading to Jefferson City for Cliff’s fortieth birthday party, and they are sure to bring instruments along.

The only thing that had held me back from getting a keyboard was the price. I knew I wanted one with weighted keys, which I assumed would cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000, at least. I have played Rolands, which are awesome, but those are out of my price range for now. I am not interested in all the fancy rhythms and built-in sounds and demo loops, but I had resigned myself to having to accept at least some of those in any electronic keyboard.

I already had a small Casio that has all the features that I don’t want and none of the features that I do, but it is decent and I thought maybe it would sound okay for a birthday-party jam. So yesterday during a break from work, I decided to walk a block to Crazy Music and at least buy a keyboard stand and a bench (sort of as a down-payment, a promise to myself that before winter was out, I was going to get a better keyboard).

Of course, once I got there and said what I was looking for, I was shown a Korg keyboard, which had everything I was looking for and at a price I could afford—$450 for the floor model! I tried it out and liked what I heard and liked the way the keys felt. I said I would think about it, but I knew that after work I would be back to pick it up. Now I need to save up for the rolling padded case!