Night People: Gere Fennelly

Of the five musicians I tribute with Night People, I think Ms. Fennelly’s uniqueness as a musician is the hardest to define in words. So I offer this fact into evidence: Among the thousands of musicians that I have known in my life – many of whom have gotten a fair bit of fame and money out of the game – Gere is the only one out of all of them that has supported herself exclusively on music. None of this ‘don’t quit your straight job’ nonsense – music is and has always been her ‘straight job’. Her discipline and devotion to music has paid her way through life from her teenage years up to the day of this writing.

This amazing fact stands out like the art world equivalent of one of those ‘unbreakable’ sports records that puts athletes in the Hall of Fame. Tom Brady’s 7 Super Bowl rings? Meh. What is that compared to an artist who is so on their game that they’ve never had to work a crap job in their life? That title belongs to Ms. Fennelly.

The piece I wrote for her in Night People contains a small inside joke. Years ago you would find me often at her little flat sitting at her Young Chang upright trying out a few bars of classical piano pieces I had been working out on my synthesizer keyboard. When I set out to write one of the nocturnes for Gere I brought the joke forward into the present. The classical music fan might notice a rather Gershwin-y left hand figure with a suspiciously andante con moto feel. It’s intentional; one of the pieces I used to try and play at her pad was the middle prelude from his Three Preludes set. As I couldn’t play piano worth a goddamn, the results of my fly-before-you-can-walk efforts were offered mostly as comedy. If a lobster had sat on the stool and attempted the piece with its outsized claws it might have sounded better.

But now, many years later when I’m more serious about following through on my compositions and performances, in completing my tribute to Gere one thing really stands out: I STILL can’t play worth a damn. For the Nocturne #2 I played passages and a few basic runs recorded via MIDI. Maybe Gere will play it solo someday and make it shine brighter than my laptop’s performance of it.

Gere Fennelly
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