What kind of city places painted pianos along the promenade of a downtown pedestrian mall? Progressive, health-conscious Denver does, and the musicians and passerby are richer for it.
I flew to Denver for a conference and stayed in one of the downtown, high-rise hotels. That placed me within an easy walk of a couple of blocks to the 16th Street Mall. As expected, retail stores and sidewalk cafes filled this one-mile path. Unexpected, though, was the presence of musicians of all skill levels, practicing their instruments and hoping to find tip-worthy favor from the casual listeners.
I was first drawn to an accomplished pianist practicing a complicated Chopin etude. A block further down, by ears commiserated with a young man trying to conquer all of the sharps of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. His tip jar was empty. Bless him.
A young veteran with a compelling tone in his trumpet asked, “What would you like to hear? Something happy? Slow? Jazzy? Gospel?” I said, “Gospel.” He closed his eyes and played Amazing Grace with feeling and fervor. A few minutes later, a fiddler captured my ears with an Appalachian mountain tune, and dueling banjos plucked on the opposite corner.
A piano sat vacant for a few minutes, and it tempted me to add to the cacophony with my own Fur Elise and become a part of this vibrant culture.
I went in search of a salad. I left with ALL of my senses satisfied.