9 October 2012

Thinking of piano men

Tristan Parrock is a piano man and the only regular entertainment on this little ferry-cum-cruise liner. He does a good job, but it’s not too easy. The passengers are pretty mature crew. Not that that totally writes of a party atmosphere. But they are mostly Brits or Germans. Grog is seriously dear here for Brits with their economy and for German with their cheap prices. So Tristan gets a steady flow of people with coffee cups to listen, and there are one or two bar-hangers, but this is not a raging audience. But he does a good job.

I sat there admiring the all-encompassing nature of the job. This is one guy who sings, runs an accompanying drum machine, plays left hand bass and right hand piano chords. It’s a neat one-man band with a nice feel and some variation; it’s not just sequenced regularity. And I was particularly impressed by the bass lines. They sounded just right. He’s got that left hand loose and rhythmic and independent. But even more than that. It got me thinking that the lines are just as they should be. I guess this is because he’s doing it all. The right and left hands are a package, even if independent, and both fit to, and serve, a vocal line (which is the most important part) that he is also performing. So there are no unnecessary or unfitting fills or improvs. This is neat and eminently suitable interplay, because one person, one mind, is doing it all. It must take some time to develop the skills to do this, even on popular piano-bar numbers that we all have in our heads, but it’s a skill that I’ve recently enjoyed and even marvelled at. Piano bar is not something I hear too often (recently it’s been once per ship) but it’s a particular and attractive skill. I’m enjoying this one. But then, just to confirm how hard it is, I ran off with everyone else when the PA announced an aurora was on view on deck. Being the piano man can be a lonely job, but we all know that from the music. Tristan Parrock (piano, vocals) is the piano man on the Hurtigruten ship MS Richard With.

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