More Light
Volume 3 Book 10 Part 8 of
Living in the Bonus Round

Onstage at the curtain call of our last performance in Omaha.

[ Book 3-9 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] -- [ Book 4-1 ]

June 20, 2004.
Last Day in Omaha.
When I see a piano I haven't touched, I get a 'yearning to the point of churning' in my stomach that is almost unbearable. I *HAVE* to go over and touch it. Every instrument -- acoustic or electronic -- individually has one little spot -- the sweet spot -- in its sonority. And when I play a "new" piano and find its sonority, it sends me into a transcendent place that I cannot describe. That's the place where songs are born.
keyboard in theatre
The keyboard at the SNAP/Shelterbelt Theatre.
Sunday morning I was invited over to the First Unitarian Church in Omaha to sing a "jam session" after the main service. The piano in that building, a Steinway, sent me into paroxyms of pleasure.
Because it was Father's Day, the entire Sunday morning service was run by young people. They gave out little diplomas to the smaller kids moving up to kindergarten. 9th graders were given the task to develop a credo.

Interior of First Unitarian Universalist Church Omaha.
[I also noticed that my jam session was listed in the morning bulletin. For some reason, I was assuming it was going to be more informal, three or four standing around the piano. I liked being in the program!]
See, the UU church is dogma-free, which leads uninformed "outsiders" to conclude that they don't believe in anything. To the contrary, to be a unitarian requires a GREAT deal of faith because they believe in service to the community, social activism and, what I consider to be the most difficult thing of all, respect for each individual's pursuit of Truth. You think that's easy? This freedom, this refusal to put boundaries on the minds of their young people or lock them into any doctrine, means people have to really contemplate and think and find their own spiritual center.

(Photo by Matt Yohe).
My favorite speech of the night came from a boy who said he hadn't written out a credo and wasn't sure what he believed but... and he perfectly outlined a five point summary of science, philosophy, metaphysics and "sentience" that had the entire room stunned. He was also funny and a bit cynical, which made it even that much more interesting. And I thought how brilliant it was that this young mind was given so much latitude to THINK, to question, to not have to say "all the right things."
[A note of clarity: For those of you who are only now finding this diary, you should know that I do not use this forum to espouse any religion or belief system. But I do enjoy visiting and singing for churches, synagogues and other places of faith. I have been told that since my songs only have an agenda of the heart, I seem to fit in almost everywhere. After all, we all have hearts. Right?]

So, anyway, I got up after the service and found my place behind that beautiful Steinway piano. It was even in tune! Everyone had, by then, moved to a different room for coffee and cake. I took the time to get to know the instrument and position it nicely. [It's such a shame that we can't do Big Voice with a "real" piano. No matter how good an electronic piano sounds, it just doesn't have the life that a real piano brings into a room].

I began my concert by singing songs from New World Singing.

[A musician geek moment: The room was acoustically amazing. I could hear my voice echoing off the walls and from the back of the room. So I carefully began modulating the volume of the piano as a counterbalance, patiently waiting for the acoustics to blend into a rich tone. There. That was it. There was even a specific direction for me to face to get the sound waves all evened out.]

(I love being a musician).

The people started filing in. I made them come forward. And we had about a half hour of fun. They sang along sometimes. Sometimes they just listened but it was really thrilling to play that piano and hear that room. And even more gratifying that people were being visibly moved by the new material.

One guy there was wearing a TLS t-shirt and told me he was a total Last Session fanatic -- and had all the recordings. He was with another guy who I really loved, a fellow positoid we got to know on opening night with the most beautiful hugs. Know how it is sometimes when you hug someone and it feels like your deeply buried mutual pain is intermingling and healing each other? That's what I felt when I hugged him.

They took me to a wonderful Greek lunch and then I got home in time for a quick nap and our final night on stage.

L: Jim's lavish dressing room. R: My closet.
See who comes first in this team?


Once again, the house was packed to the rafters and the audience response was phenomenal.

(Photo by Matt Yohe).

Sneaking a shot of the audience from behind the curtain.

At the curtain call, I brought out the video camera from behind the curtain.

Jim taking his bow.
Or is that the Pope?

After the show, Jimmy gave a short speech thanking the whole community for embracing us with such heart, asking them to please invite us back. We're going to miss the people in Omaha. I keep thinking back to the first day when someone there asked, "Why would you guys come to Omaha???"

Looking out at that beautiful audience, and thinking of all the incredibly warm and committed people who volunteer to make SNAP!/Shelterbelt such an energizing place to play, all I can say is that it was OUR privilege. We were the lucky ones.

[ Book 3-9 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] -- [ Book 4-1 ]

© 1996-2004 by Steve Schalchlin.
You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.