Friday, March 30, 2018

Don't it drive you crazy when they make it look so easy?

He's going to kill me when he reads this, but about four minutes ago I decided my friend Douglas Perry is the Waylon Jennings of classical music.

Read this handful of Douglas facts and tell me if you don't agree.

1. Douglas, who's about my age or maybe a bit older, is the father of three spectacular adult children, and a professional viola player and, if  you Google him, you'll see he's spent the past 40 years performing with the most capable musicians on the planet, which he might or might not be one of. What I know about classical music wouldn't fill a 140-character tweet.

2. You'd never know, from talking to him, how accomplished Douglas is. See that poster? His name appears in teensy weensy type down near the lower right corner; it's almost unnoticeable. Which is weird because not only is he performing in the show, he organized the whole thing. Here's how he rolls. A few years ago, Douglas performed with the Chinese composer /performer Fuhong Shi and because the music and cultural ties so intrigued him, he stayed in touch, traveled to China and formed a professional partnership and the result will be this April 12 concert. When I said I'd like to blog about it, Perry was like, "Great!" and then,in typical Douglas style, yanked a funny quote out of the ether: "You know Sol Hurok? The old New York impresario? He said 'you know, you can't stop them from not coming.'"

into it, from Bach to the Blue Jays.
3. Which brings me to my daughter Ev--another huge Perry fan. Get this: Ev is scheduled to perform her first ever stand-up comedy act at Second City April 21. (When my brother Alex heard this, he said, "good for her, too bad for you.") When I told Douglas, he got all excited and mused, "maybe she could do like a dry run of her show at the Fuhong concert." Imagine having a stand-up on stage with those other players? See the Waylon comparison? When Jennings showed up in Nashville, he did things his own way. As for Ev's debut, I don't know yet  whether she and Douglas have seen eye-to-eye on that yet.

4. Speaking of, about a year ago, Douglas mentioned he'd like to invent windshield wipers for his eyes because sometimes when he's at work the orchestra plays so beautifully he tears up. I wish  everyone could retain that love for their work.

5. Did I mention that I once interviewed Waylon Jennings' brother Bo? True fact. I was doing a story about Waylon's touring truck, a 1966 Mack; and interviewed Bo on the phone from Texas. What I remember most is Bo said that although his brother is known as an outlaw and a risk-taking roue--which is really not a word Bo used but I've always wanted to try it out--the truth is, what mattered most to ole Waylon was music. Bo said when he and his brother were young, Waylon was so intent on "getting the guitar sound down," he'd spend countless hours at the back of the bus practising when everybody else was out having a good time. "At heart," Bo said, "Waylon was an artist, alway working."
GOOD-TIMIN' MAN: Good music's all about timing

Which brings me back to Douglas. He's always working at something. Plus, every time you talk to him--and if you come to the concert in April I'll see that it happens--you come away richer; probably smarter besides.

One of the things he taught me recently? The Italian word "sprezzatura," which is what you call it when somebody makes something really really difficult look really really easy.

Perry and the Jennings boys know a thing or two about sprezzatura. And now you do too.

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