Last year I had the great fortune to meet Keith Picot when Brandon Isaak asked me to join them for a show at the Old Fire Hall. The request was that I “furnish some piano behind a little movie” that Keith and Brandon had made.
Below is the footage of me playing behind the film live at the concert. I love improvising and reacting to what flashes before me. It really keeps a person on their toes.
This was a wonderful re-connect for me to the art of being a picture pianist. I was fortunate enough to get to do a little of this when I first came to Dawson in 1980 to play at Girties. (http://www.dawsoncity.ca/klondikeattractions/diamondtoothgerties/) I got to jump in and try my hand at playing behind some silent films that were at the museum there.
Fred Bass was the resident picture pianist in Dawson and i was lucky enough to get copies of some of his scores with all the sections of things he’d play behind the film. I was more interested on “why” he played certain things and I slowly began to learn the connects between the film and the are of improvising.
I got a second chance in the 90’s when a bunch of silent movie reels were discovered under a cabin in the Dawson City area. Claude Tidd was an RCMP officer with a huge passion for photography. He was well known for his collections of photographs from the era, however the discovery of film reels he made was a new and exciting one and the excitement culminated in a show at the Yukon Arts Centre showing the original film. I was hired to provide silent movie piano behind the scenes.
It’s a muscle that you have to exercise and for the most part, there isn’t much opportunity to do it. Thanks to Keith Picot, I’m getting some exercise!
………….apparently there’s more coming down the pipe! Stay tuned!
Check out Keith’s work at: