happening times


Last week the clouds were amazing. This week the winds from the North have clocked around again.


However, even with those winds the leaves in the woods off the deck are lovely. Definitely worth a look.


Perhaps a drive up this weekend is in order. The Island may be past it’s peak but Main Road was looking mighty nice yesterday afternoon. Where else can one see cows grazing right across the road from a cultural center?


Peaceful and bright, that was Tuesday. I had to get out and enjoy this respite from the rainy days we have had lately. Main Road never disappoints. I aways love the view from the patio at the Trueblood Performing Arts Center The aura around the place is sparkling this week. 


A truly special event is coming this Saturday. Besides the colors and the cows on Main Road, rehearsals are underway and fine tuning continues on a very unique instrument. There is only one other working double piano we know of and that one was built in 1900 and lives in Europe.


Duel? Dual? Well, Peter likes dual piano or double piano - no “s” on piano. Joan likes duetting certainly not dueling. But the title does get the public’s attention. This is going to be interesting. Really, it is more than that. It’s a culmination. When asked, Piano Man Peter Nehlsen’s eyes start to twinkle, “It’s going to be a hoot!” The initial performance of this amazing creation will definitely be a happening and Peter’s wish is that be an Island happening. He wants Islanders to come and hang out, to enjoy some good jazz and take a look at what has consumed his days this last year.


  How did all this start? In talking with Peter this week, he hesitated when that question came up. “Do we have that much time? This could be a short novel.” That story was significant though as it has led to where he is today. A big part? Peter related he needs to do things which are tactile. He gravitates to working with his hands. In the early days making a living on the Island, it was making fish boxes for Kenny Koyen. Later, it was managing the family gravel pit and fixing all the equipment that would inevitably breakdown. 


What took a year to build really has been going on for over 40 years. It is a culmination of Peter’s experiences as he traveled the world working on every conceivable model of these instruments called pianos. As he worked, he observed what he liked and what he didn’t. He took notes. Each piano is different. That is what makes his career so satisfying, so intriguing. “I keep learning. It’s been 40 years and I’m still learning.”


A career in piano tech work uses a myriad of skills all at once, This is what makes Peter content. He is humble though. Perfect pitch? Not really. ”It’s a misnomer, not reality,” Peter commented. Much math is involved and all that experience can make it seem like perfect pitch but it is more. No two pianos tune the same, lots of weird little things are in play. No, not pure math, tuning is a “mash” of many elements. It’s an art.


The results of his efforts will be on display this Saturday night. The artistry of two well known and well loved people will make Peter’s double piano come to life. Joan Reynolds and Richard Westring will be putting their own spin on some longtime jazz favorites. The tone, depth, and richness produced with this instrument is so powerful being able to play it for its first performance must be thrilling for them, too!


Oh! If you happen to see Doc Westring on Friday, wish him a happy birthday. It’s his 80th! He is a regular at Fiddlers Green. Between the three of them - Joan, Peter and Doc - over 200 years of experience will be performing on the TPAC stage on Saturday night!


Joan is well known for her leadership of her own group, the Red Rose Ragtime Band as well as her work with the Island Sunshine Singers who have had fun performing in the Summer at the Red Barn. 


Tickets are available online through the TPAC. Click this link: https://www.truebloodpac.com/current-season-tickets/2018/10/20/peternehlsensduelpiano or stop by Fair Isle Book Shop open 10 to 4 everyday through Saturday to purchase tickets in person. Not sure about Red Cup and given they are Closed Friday just might be better to try the other two ticket options.


This performance will benefit the Trueblood Performing Arts Center. Thank you to Joan, Doc, and Peter! If this post has piqued your interest, Lorel Gordon has a front page article in the current Washington Island Observer (October 11-24, 2018) which goes into further detail. Check it out!


A year to build the workings? Peter says it wouldn’t have been possible if he hadn’t stepped down from his position as Fire Chief here on Washington Island. That break allowed him the time to focus on this project which could be one for the musical history books.


Oh, what a night! As Peter says, the stars are aligning! Who knew there could be such a significant event on Main Road as the season starts to calm down? But then again it is what I call the Bumper Season, the time when Islanders get things done.


.....til next time!