More traveling, this time to the midwest, and more driving. First a visit to a new customer in St. Louis, then a long drive to Elizabethtown KY to visit the warehouse at Keyboard Carriage. This is about a 5 hour drive but it is through some very beautiful scenery. You have to love the look of the midwest, and being a Midwesterner, I do.
The next day, I not only drove back to St. Louis, but 2 hours further to Columbia. While on my way I decided to take a detour and drop in on one of my old homes, Jasper Indiana. You may remember that I worked for Kimball during the time Kimball owned Bösendorfer. Kimball has its headquarters in Jasper and the piano factory (Kimball, not Bösendorfer) was about another 30 minutes up the road in French Lick.
Jasper is characteristic of many small midwestern cities; an old time feel without a lot of progress, deep cultural connections, in this case German and a strong work ethic. I was with Kimball for 8 years and only spent about 2 of them in Jasper and that was over 20 years ago. For this reason I didn’t really remember much, including that Jasper has an old time city square! But that didn’t matter, I remembered drinking at the Schnitz and some friends that I haven’t seen for ages and did not look up this time…too short, but someday.
Then another 7 hours in the car to visit the University of Missouri at Columbia. Here they have a beautiful 25 year old Bösendorfer 290 Imperial. Instead of being stuck in the basement jazz lab, it proudly occupies the stage in the small primary recital hall. This piano has been well cared for but really needs some routine maintenance, including new hammers, strings and a set of whippens. The problem with high end pianos is that the tone deteriorates very slowly so even though people still claim to love this piano, I know that what they are hearing is a mere shadow of how it should and could sound. It has gobs of sustain so again, there is a beautiful piano lurking under a worn out set of hammers.
The new technician there, Lucy Erlacher, is great and dedicated to the idea of tonal diversity, and we’re going to help her anyway we can.