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Wild West

Growing up in the good old USA during the fifties and sixties, we witnessed the new era of television taking control of the mass media. Toothpaste, cigarettes, cars, and breakfast cereal ads dominated the tubed boxes. To this day I still know all the jingles and catch lines by heart. Although the pictures were just black, white, and gray, to be able to see the comedy shows, movies, and sporting events in your own home was a total revolution in family home entertainment. It should be noted that although we could enjoy The Olympic Games, weight heavy boxing, and the evening news in real time, corporations were equally thrilled to have the opportunity to come into our homes and program us with their brand names.

Before the popularity of sci-fi and police shows, the big thing was westerns like Gun Smoke, Wagon Train, Bonanza, and The Wild Wild West. On occasion while playing piano at an establishment like El Gaucho Seattle or The Edgewater Inn on Puget Sound, I can picture in my mind the classic saloon scenes from past westerns. Quite often they would have a piano set up on the far side of the bar with the pianist pounding out funky tunes while folks ate, drank, and gambled. The piano music always gave the room a lively atmosphere even if it was just background music.

The funny coincidence is that many of the piano gigs now in the new millennium are actually the same. The only differences are that instead of coming to the restaurants and nightclubs riding horses, the patrons come in fancy cars with valet parking. There are also the suits verses cowboy boots, no hats or spurs, and most places have grand pianos as opposed to an upright eighty-eight. There are also hotel accommodations upstairs that now have room service and the gambling is usually done in casinos these days. These differences may look dramatic but are very superficial in their essence. Sometimes, it seems like the more things change the more they stay the same.

[Editor’s Note]
Deems Tsutakawa is a local Sansei musician. He can be reached at deemst@deemsmusic.com.