My inspiration to become a professional musician came from watching the movie “Groundhog Day.” If you haven’t seen it, Bill Murray gets reincarnated over and over again on Feb. 2. He wastes his first days being narcissistic and self-destructive. Finally, he becomes a better person by helping others and learning the piano. By the end of the movie, he and his band have everyone rocking out at the Groundhog Day party.
I also went the self-improvement route by taking piano lessons at Forest Park’s Gasse School of Music. It’s one thing, though, to sound good at the kitchen table. I wanted to reach a wider audience and start making the big bucks, so I joined the Lemurs.
The Lemurs have been a Forest Park fixture for the past three years. The members include Dan Peterson, aka Krusty and my brother Dan Rice, aka Just Dan. They gave me the moniker Johnny Danger, as my major musical influences are Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten.
After months of practice and weeks of rehearsal with the Lemurs, I was ready to join them for a few songs at Carole’s on Roosevelt. At our final rehearsal, I asked what we should wear for the show. I wanted to wear a tie but Just Dan said I couldn’t because he was wearing a tie. It was decided I could wear a bow tie and Krusty provided one.
“It was a pretty good crowd for a Saturday,” the Piano Man would have said of Carole’s that night. The Lemurs tore through their first set of fan favorites. They play traditional rock songs, some folk and a few Irish tunes. Krusty plays the guitar and sings, while Just Dan is a one-man-band in the percussion department. When he’s not banging, shaking or scraping, Just Dan is also a soulful vocalist.
Finally, it was time for me to take the stage. After a big build-up from Krusty, I played triangle on “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” striking it 29 times for each member of the ill-fated crew. Now that the audience’s expectations had been sufficiently lowered, I played keyboard on five songs. I got so lost during “Blowin’ in the Wind” that I used a trick only top professionals know: I stopped playing.
The crowd was appreciative. In fact, one woman danced to “Edmund Fitzgerald.” I think it was the triangle that got her out of her seat. I also greedily watched the tip jar fill up–finally, I’d have a steady income.
So, I can only encourage other Forest Parkers to follow my path of self-improvement to rock stardom. It’s never too late to start playing an instrument and learning new songs becomes addicting. Let’s see, “Sing me a song, you’re the piano man.” Is that in A or G?