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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon


Ben Folds played the Valerium in Knoxville on Sunday to a sold out crowd.  His audience is older now, still a sellout of excited fans, but less of the pissed off teen age type.  Ben seemed to still be pretty pissed off with his new album that bashes his third wife with titles such as “You Don’t Know Me,” and the subtly bitter “The Bitch Went Nuts.”  Remember how sweet “Luckiest” was that he wrote about her just a couple albums back?  Reminds me of  “She’s Always a Woman,” written by Billy Joel to Christie Brinkley.  The power of songwriting is that your work can outlast the basis of the story but people will still sing it anyway because what you said remains true to them.  But that’s not what I want to write about today.

Ben Folds plays a Baldwin grand piano.  I think that the key to Ben’s success was his courage to buy a Baldwin from the beginning.  Before he was famous, he actually played gigs that were lame and sometimes nobody even came.  No matter; he loaded the Baldwin piano himself along with the other 2 in his five piece.  No professional technician, moving company, or sponsorship.  It was like another piece of gear except that it took most of the trailer and a very intense ramp and dolly system.  (Refer back to my post about the early 1990’s Ben Folds Five promo video you can watch on YouTube. )

It took more than courage.  Think of the nerve to go drop 20K and then be ready to break your back shoving it around everywhere.  No wonder he was pissed off all the time.  If you look around you will find plenty of young guys toting their keyboards and desperately trying to look like the real thing behind their big black plastic box on top of an X.  Classy.  I am one of them so I can say this.   



This morning I graduated from a full hand splint to a finger brace after seeing the doctor.  I needed to celebrate  my newfound finger freedom so I went to a piano dealership where you can push responsive keys on pianos with felt tips on the other end designed to strike strings which resonate inside a beautiful wood shell.  Such an old school concept. I play a nice Roland where you essentially type on plastic keys that digitize a sucky version of reality to be sent by a cable to resonate in a speaker somewhere covered with carpet or something. 

I played a Steinway and a Baldwin sitting side by side.  I have to say for the money I’d take the Baldwin.  I’m not just saying that.  In fact, I saw why they are America’s favorite piano.

I’ve already tried to talk Ashley into the commitment level it would require to make the move to a piano.  At this point it is not a question of commitment.  We’re living out of a car starting next week and that is all the commitment we can make to the dream right now.  But like my friend who can get a case of wine for mentioning a winery in her blog, I’m telling any of you who buy a Baldwin piano in these tough times to tell them Levon sent you. 


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