2 AUSTRIA, PART TWO:
The official (Salzburg-native) Leader of this session is a bright and high-spirited woman named Cristale; she turns the leadership over to yours truly from time to time (and for one extended section). They even leave it to me to do the guided relaxation (what about the language barrier??); the folks from Braunau seem especially intent on having a longer stretch of Laughter Meditation; they won’t stop laughing even when I ask them repeatedly to just relax. Or maybe they just don’t understand my gibberish/English…. Eventually all are mellow and deeply calm.
At the session’s end we promptly hustle up our belongings and head over to the restaurant where the electric piano has been installed. About 25 folks from Wolfgang’s Kiwani’s Club are waiting for us (my piano concert has been announced in the local newspaper as “Swinging Piano mit Jeffrey Briar von Kalifornia”). A hasty “production meeting” with Wolfgang and we decide to have me play for 15 minutes after the food orders are in, and to play another “set” in about 20 minutes when the entrees are consumed. Wolfie’s assurance that they will understand my English if I speak slowly is apparently betrayed by my carefully-articulated words being met nonetheless with a multiplicity of blank stares (the audience includes a young boy about 11 years old – most likely not an “Englische-sprecher” , so I talk only briefly. I tell ‘em how the popularity of “Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Saint Louis Blues” showed how black composers could make a valid contribution to music in America; a work in the form of “Boogie Woogie” demonstrates how The Blues became more danceable. The set finished with my “Musical Melodrama,” words in gibberish (German spelling: ‘Tschibberisch” - but they also use the term “Kauderwelsch”). Definitely a crowd-pleaser! Now for dinner: the Wienershnitzel was quite good, served with cranberry sauce (like we often serve with turkey).
Set Two was preceded with a substantial set of speeches: I think the foxy proprietress said she would donate 10% of the evening’s proceeds to the Kiwanis’ children charities; and some lady nattered on for at least 8 minutes… something about which she seemed slightly embarrassed, while everyone else cheered - probably the image of humility, in the face of generous acts (?). But for all I know, she was just giving a lengthy Treasurer’s report.
My pianistic offerings included Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody” “Deep Purple,” and some more Blues. Then a bizarre mélange of Chopin’s Eb Nocturne with my own rag “Nuthin’ to It.” “The Entertainer” was played on request (I love it when they ask for something I already know!). A second encore was demanded; an even stranger hodge-podge emerged with more Chopin, Bach, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” (they all knew that one!), Laurel and Hardy’s “KuKu Song” theme – this definitely delighted the crowd. There were two “donation” receptacles, one for Kiwanis and one for Der Klavier-Spieler (piano-player). I am pretty sure the Kiwanis did well; donations (in Euro-dollars) to the pianist totaled almost US$175! I gave half of it back to the Kiwanis. Hahahahaha! That oughta cover the rental on the piano.