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Play it again, Sam. Er, Cole.


You may know that I play jazz accordion. Or not. Now you do. Well, I also play piano. Here's the story...

When I was a kid I was placed into an orphanage for four years because my mother simply couldn't afford to keep me and my siblings.Well, anyway, there was this great old piano at that orphanage.

Back at home we'd always had an old piano around, and I'd fooled around on it for as long as I could remember. So I really wanted to play that orphanage piano.

But the Matron wouldn't let me. She wouldn't let any of the orphanage boys play. She said that boys who played piano were sissies. Mind you, she also loved Liberace.

Now I was every bit as masculine as he was, so I would sit on the stairs in the front hall and listen to my sisters and all the other girls play. It frustrated me so much that I promised myself that one day — if I ever got out of there — I would learn to play better than any of them.

I kept that promise.

For a long while, I made part of my living (and at times, all my living) playing ragtime, honky tonk and big bad music at bars and restaurants. I played seven nights a week at the Cook Stove Restaurant in Ogunquit Maine in the summer of 1975. Older folks would jam the place to hear this kid play the music of their youth. One of the best summers I ever had, and I learned that playing five hours every night seven nights a week really let your fingers get over the keyboard.

I still play both instruments, but not as good as in the old days. Too many cold meat fridges, I guess.

Here I am playing accordion.