POWr Video Gallery

Friday, January 29, 2010

Playing tonight- Porterhouse Grill, Norwood NJ

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to let you know I'm playing tonight at the Porterhouse Grill in Norwood NJ.

I've added an events calendar at the bottom of the page, and hopefully this week I'll be updating it for you.

God bless,

Willy

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pink Floyd - Time

Someone asked me if I would do a Pink Floyd song the other day. My first thought was, "Pink Floyd? On Piano?" Well, after pondering it for a few days, I've come to the conclusion that the perfect Pink Floyd song on piano would either be "Wish You Were Here," or "Time." And after further consideration I think "Time" would have to be the winner. First of all I have to be honest. I only knew the lyrics of "Time" as "Bla bla bla, dee dee da da doo da da. Dee dee dee, dee dee da da doo dee." But then I looked into it and found that the lyrics are actually making quite an eternal statement.

The gist of the song is about the proper use of the limited time that we are allotted. The Bible says that "it is appointed man once to die and then the judgment." I think about that a lot. I believe we are given a certain amount of time on the planet to do the best we can, and the time we waste can never be gotten back. I kick myself when I think about all the time I've wasted. In my mind I imagine myself standing before God and having to account for all of the wasted time. So I try to keep myself on track and stay busy.

I especially like the ending of the song when Waters brings us to the place where he has run out of time, but then comes up with something else to say, and goes back into the part from an earlier song on the album, but included at this point, about how he's "home again," makes me think of someone going to heaven after a long "day" on earth. And hearing the church bells tolling and calling the faithful to the "magic spells" of faith, is a nice ending for me.

It's interesting to note that Alan Parsons produced that song, and he also has a song called "Time" from his days with the Alan Parson's Project. It was a great song too. I have never listened to the songs back to back, but I wonder if they dovetail together?

Anyway, I think I'll have to try to work up a solo piano version of "Time." I think it certainly says something of value that we all should take to heart.

God bless,

Willy

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Blues Music part 2

Once upon a time, I was a pawnbroker, then later I became a minister, and then I was a pawnbroker and a minister simultaneously. Somewhere in there I also was a security guard at a laundromat, and though I was never a bartender, I have learned that people who are going through hard times want someone to talk about and commiserate with their problems and hardships.

I am a firm believer that just about everyone goes through hardships. Those of us who don't, might not be human. I think the human condition is all about suffering. Why is it that most of the world's religions have some doctrine that speaks to this obvious human condition. The human condition is suffering. Buddhism has the doctrine that "life is suffering," Judaism is filled with tales of prophets who suffered for God. Islam teaches that martyrdom is the ultimate form of devotion, as does Christianity whose central figure, Jesus, paid the ultimate price for not only the sins of His country, but of all humanity, though a violent and grisly death. Thankfully for us Christians, it didn't end there and out of the suffering came a powerful and glorious Resurrection.

Which is ultimately what blues music is about. I find that it's about death and resurrection. Take John Mayer's song, "I'm Gonna Find Another You." I'm not sure if John actually wrote this song, or if it's a cover, but here we have him bemoaning the fact that his woman is mean to him and is in the process of leaving him. Through the course of his song, he takes us through a great deal of emotion. First he's begging her not to go, then he's angry that she's leaving, and then finally (as the mourning process tends to progress and conclude) he's resolved and is going to go out and find someone else. What is this but an illustration of Death and Resurrection? His relationship has dies, and now he's moving off to a new life with someone he hopes is just as beautiful, but nicer.

I think the human condition is such as to demonstrate the cycle of death and resurrection. I think God made it that way to point us back to Him. We go through a long series of losses, and blues music is filled with it. Take any good blues song from Robert Johnson on down the decades all the way to the more modern blues guys like John Mayer and Johnny Lang. These songs of loss somehow are mirrors of misery that show us that we are not alone in our suffering.

It is the ultimate form of pride perhaps to utter the simple phrase, "you don't understand." Maybe some people do not understand. But People do understand. Because it's written into our very DNA. We must suffer in order to be complete. We can't fulfill our purpose, we can't connect with our Creator and others if we do not suffer. Maybe that's why Peter and James wrote that we should "count it joy," when we suffer. 

I think blues music focuses on suffering, but typically there is consolation and  resignation in many blues songs that we need in order not to die. I have mentioned previously my distaste of the Goth scene. I find that Goth tends to glorify the death, without offering the hope of anything beyond that. How pointless is that? Without regeneration there is nothing lovely or pure or good or wholesome or of good repute in the fondling of carnage and decay. There can be no true joy in focusing on death without following it with life. It's like playing a C major scale and stopping on the B before you get to C again. It's aggravating and begs for completion.

And that is why I think Blues music is really the other side of the coin of Gospel. I think they go hand in hand. I don't think you can really have Gospel music without the Blues part. If you take out the story of your depravity before Christ, then the Gospel music loses it's punch. Likewise if you have nothing but misery and despair, then Blues becomes just a long litany of whining and complaining with no hope. I think the early bluesmen understood that. Even the quintessential blues song "Cross Road Blues" or as Clapton made it, "Crossroads," is supposed to be the tale of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the Devil at the Crossroads. And yet the song is actually about repentance, and a cry for help because ultimately he knows that there is a place to go for help when the suffering gets so dark it grows beyond us.

Anyway, maybe I'll ramble on some other time, but these are just some more thoughts of mine on Blues music.

God bless,

Willy

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Porter House Grill Norwwod, NJ

Hey Everyone,

I'll be playing tonight at the Porter House Grill in Norwood, NJ tonight at 6:00 until 10 pm. Hope to see you there.

God bless,

Willy

Monday, January 4, 2010

Blues Music

I'm often asked if I am a jazz pianist. But though I do play some jazz, I often tell people that I am a blues musician (I guess I'm really more of a pop player with a heavy blues influence). I like blues music. No, that's not quite right, I love blues music. There's something about knowing that other people have experienced the hardship of life that unites us as humans, that draws me continually back to this music. I find that there is a realism that is not found in standard pop music. I guess I'm not only talking about the standard 12 bar Chicago style blues, but more the earthy blues of the south. I like to listen to artists like Mississippi John Hurt and Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson and Junior Welles. I like the old recordings of guys like Big Bill Broonzy and Charlie Patton. These blues recordings are scratchy and ancient according to modern technology, but there is something real about them that speaks to the heart of human suffering in a way that nothing else does. Sure there are sado-masochistic genres being developed lately with Gothic themes that glorify human suffering, but that is useless to most sane people.

But blues music discusses the raw emotions that people feel in a true way that relates to the common themes that people experience in life. I've been out of steady work lately, and the truth that Ray Charles proclaims in the song "Busted" speaks to me. When I was in love and lost a girlfriend, the anger, the pain, the loss, the hopelessness, and the resignation are all present in the songs of Robert Johnson. Just listen to "Judgment Day Blues," and know the anger being expressed by "If I had possession over the Judgment Day, the woman I've been loving would have no right to pray!" That's a powerful anger of Biblical proportions!

Going down through my list of Blues recordings I see names like: Koko Taylor, Albert King, B.B. King and Memphis Slim. You should take a listen to artists like Elmore James, Blind Willie McTell, John Lee Hooker, Son House and Sonny Boy Williamson (I and II).  There's a lot of good gospel blues like Rev. Gary Davis and the Blind Boys of Alabama. There's a lot of good modern blues like Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo' (who happens to be one of the nicest musicians I've ever met). I even love the earthy folk/blues of guys like Greg Brown (you should find and listen to his song King Corn, that's solid blues!) I could literally go on for pages and pages describing all of the artists that I love so much.

The piano styles of New Orleans jazz and blues artists like James Booker and Professor Longhair have really inspired my piano playing, as well as the great doctor, Dr. John. These guys have a piano style that is amazing. Take a listen to Booker T. Laurey and Memphis Slim and see if you don't hear a taste of their style in the songs I play when you come out to hear me. They have had a great impact on my formation as a piano player.

I owe such a debt of gratitude for these guys for taking the time to record their music. And though I'll probably never meet any of them, it is such a joy every time I get some quite time and can listen to their passion being poured out into their pianos.

If you get a chance you should check out some of these greats. If I get the time I'll tell you more about some of the other great blues artists I love.

God bless,

Willy

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ligee In Battle


Ligee In Battle
Originally uploaded by willyminnix
Here's Ligee doing battle against the forces of darkness overwhelming us lately! Go get 'em Lij. I'm sure they can't stand against the mighty onslaught of your Nerf blaster you've got there.

God bless,

Willy

Mommy and Etta


Mommy and Etta
Originally uploaded by willyminnix
Here's a vision of beauty. My lovely wife Trevor and Etta, next to our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree! My favorite time of the day is seeing those two lovely ladies smile!

God bless,

Willy

Liam Pants


Liam Pants
Originally uploaded by willyminnix

Here's Liam with his great excitement about the new pair of pjs. He really needed them. For such a typically somber and thoughtful (or as Liam puts it "Think-ative") kid, this picture really makes me happy!

God bless,

Willy

Liam and Cars


Liam and Cars
Originally uploaded by willyminnix
The airshot super drop is actually a lot of fun. We raced different cars to see which ones went the fastest. And we elevated the ramp at the end to see what the optimum height was to get really good jumps! Liam really loved all his gifts. Thank you all so much.

God bless,

Willy

Ligee K'nex


Ligee K'nex
Originally uploaded by willyminnix
Here's the very image of a happy boy! Give Ligee a few K'nex and he's ready to create anything! Thanks again to all of you wonderful people who made our kids happy this year!

God bless,

Willy

Etta Dress Up


Etta Dress Up
Originally uploaded by willyminnix
Isn't this just the very look of joy?! Here's Etta as she holds up a gift of dress up clothes. People really went out of their way to bless our family, and make this holiday a wonderful event. They really showed the true spirit of Christmas this holiday by showing Christ's love to our family! God bless you all, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year.

God bless,

Willy

Space Warriors 2


Space Warriors 2
Originally uploaded by willyminnix
Oh the joy of blasting alien space invaders! Here is a group of intrepid warriors off to rid the galaxy of evil! Another wonderful present from the many good people who blessed us this Christmas.

God bless,

Willy

Giddy Train


Giddy Train
Originally uploaded by willyminnix
We had such a blessed Christmas. All of the wonderful people who helped make our kids happy this Christmas are greatly appreciated. Here's Gideon holding a GeoTrax train that someone gave him. Just look at the excitement expressed by his little juicy lips!

God bless,

Willy