We ran into Gregory Morris, "The Piano Man", again last week. It was our usual Thursday evening at the "Electric Campfire, Acoustic Jam" at the Sons Of Hermann Hall. I first met him some time in the last two years, I can't remenber exactly when, and have seen him occasionally since then. He usually comes tip-toeing in, all shy, and sits down at the old upright piano against the wall in the "quiet room'', while a group of pickers are trading off songs around a circle of chairs.
Gregory is a fantastic piano player, but, he usually starts off slow and quiet, just dropping well placed notes in among the guitar chords. He plays by ear, and can usually accompany just about anyone.
After the turn goes around the circle once, someone will call out for Greg to play one. He's happy to oblige. He can seemingly play just about any style from classical to blues, stride, boogie woogie, and jazz.
Gregory is homeless, and we can only try to imagine what his life must be like. It's no wonder that he only shows up occasionally. It's always a treat when he does, though, even though he usually puts "the touch'' on anyone he gets to talking to. We'll buy him a few drinks, and some people will give him some money sometimes.
After the crowd had thinned out, I was watching him play just for himself, and shot this video. He was playing the old Gershwin tune "Summertime". I gave him five dollars for letting me do the video, and that put a smile on his face.
I was telling my friend Don O about the encounter the next day. Don hosts one of the blues shows on KNON radio (links: http://knon.org/index.php?id=261, http://bluesdfw.com/, and http://donobbq.blogspot.com/). He is very knowledgeable about blues in general, and the local blues scene in particular. He tells me he's seen many stories similar to Greg's, and, it's a pity, but, what can you do? You can't save people from themselves. He said to send him the link to the video, and I did. He replied with a link to a story in the Dallas Observer from 1997 about Gregory. Here's the link to the story. It's a long one, but, well written, and very interesting.
Here's another video of Gregory, this one shot a week later, doing "Unforgettable"