An Evening With Aaron Michaels


aaron2_icon.gif abby2_icon.gif isabelle_icon.gif tamsine_icon.gif

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Scene Title An Evening With Aaron Michaels
Synopsis Aaron performs all evening at Old Lucy's.
Date May 20, 2009

Old Lucy's

Old Lucy's has a vibrant and lively feel to it, from the dark wooden floors to the shady crimson walls lit up by neon lights and many times, the flashing of cameras from the oft-crowded floor. The mirror behind the bar reflects prices of various drinks, bottles lined up, as well as the entire saloon as seen from the bartenders; bolted-down stools line the other side, and there are loose tables and chairs placed all around, though many times they find themselves pushed back for more space within the center of the saloon. A few speakers are placed at strategic places and around a raised stage to the far corner from the bar. Above the counter, an obviously well-used bar is hung; it is this that the girls working will use should there be dancing, which is one reason many patrons choose to come aside from the drinks. Across the bar and near the back, there is a door that leads to the owner's office and just inside a stairwell that leads a apartment on the floor above the bar.

An Evening With Aaron Michaels. That's what the posters read as Aaron came into Old Lucy's earlier in the morning of Wednesday, May twentieth. No, he wasn't particularly impressed by the appearance of the posters, and continued to grumble to his 'buddies' at NYU about it. He never liked being the centre of attention — that was why he had any of his other bandmates speak for the band. He gets arrogant when he's the centre of attention. He knows it and they knew it. Sadly, the NYU folks don't.

It took several other hours of preparation and few more tweaks to all of the work he prepared for the night before he came back in. Aaron is presently working getting the computer system attached to the MIDI keyboard all set and ready. Two guys from NYU are maintaining one other system and a control board for the stage lights they set up. The only table that isn't empty is a small one right near the stage, that is occasionally occupied by one of the two technicians, and Aaron himself. It's also the table he insisted be left empty for Abigail and/or Isabelle should they ever get a moment to not do their job. Nearby the keyboard are two guitars — one electric and one acoustic — and a smaller unseen instrument. All three instruments are connected in one way or another to the sound system. A small table, on top of which rests a glass of water and a mug of tea, sits next to a chair on the stage nearby the guitars and the third mystery instrument.

The slow trickle of patrons throughout the day turned into a stream around five, and near the show's six thirty start, it's packed. A lot of them are definitely not regulars. In fact, at least twenty of them have never been to Old Lucy's. They're Aaron's fans. Some are new students that have just gotten to know him the last week as he's prepared for the concert, others are old students or grad students, and four of them are professors.

Working hard for the money, she words hard for the money! Abigail's behind the bar , serving up drinks, dressed in her usual. Really, truly, the gear doesn't change. Poeple are coming in to see what kind of music is being played, since it's been a bit thanks to the curfew since there'd been live music. "Pitcher of beer, UP!"

Tamsine finds her way inside the tavern — she happened to pass by earlier and see the posters, recognizing the street busker, and made it a point to come by to watch the show. She finds a space in the crowded area, nodding to a stool that wasn't being used by a group at a table and asking if she could "borrow it." She gets a smile and a nod, and she pulls it a bit away from the table so as not to crash their party, and finds her back against a wall comfortable to lean on. The petite redhead glances about the crowd, and then lets her eyes fall on the young man as he prepares for his show.

The bosslady of Old Lucy's is leaned against the wall in the shadows, she watches her girls sling drinks back and forth. She doesn't want everyone knowing she is back, lest the wrong people find out. Isabelle smiles as she watches Abby and nods to herself, the woman has come a long way from the girl she first met at Rapture.

She wears a black tank top and black short shorts along with knee high black boots. Her eyes scan the crowd, she sees a few regulars but a lot of new people too. This is good for business the live music that is.

Aaron, himself, is dressed in more formal attire than usual. He usually just has a button-up and jeans, but this time he's wearing black slacks and a royal blue button-up. Neater dress shoes, too, and there are two hangers in the back room with a change of shirts and suit jacket draped across the chair on the stage. Those stage lights get damned toasty, even though the additional lights the NYU folks brought along are currently off.

He takes a seat at the bench in front of the keyboard. The house lights remain on over his head as his fingers grace the keys, gently playing out a familiar staccato that anyone familiar with Tchaikovsky or ballet is likely to recognize as the first four measures of the song 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy' from 'The Nutcracker.' "I'm just kidding," he says into the microphone above the keyboard as he stops playing. Thanks to the NYU student at the console to his far left, Old Lucy's stage lights fade to black, shrouding the pianist in darkness.

Although the tone and character of the piano had been soft and warm as he had played the four measures only a minute earlier, as Aaron's fingers grace the keys of the MIDI keyboard once more, the piano no appears to be an older model concert grand with a brighter character. This time it's a more lively, fast-paced tune. The melody works its way down an octave, and at that point he crosses his right arm over his left to play a couple of bass notes. A pause before he continues playing an octave lower still. This time, the playing is more lively, as the new stage lights begin to brighten to a deep red-orange, illuminating Aaron as he plays, his head bobbing in time with his playing.

With an upward glissando, the stage lights reach their full brightness, and they remain that way until the completion of the piece. At that point, they dim to a more intimate lighting. "Thank you," he says.

Abigail looks over to Isabel after the first song is going, a bit of an apologetic look on her face. But that's about all. Abby knows Aarons trick, and she knows somewhat, how … the rest of the folks are going to react soon enough. Pitchers of beer are still going out as well as bottles and cups.

Tamsine applauds, her brows rising a bit as she realizes how talent the young man is. She looks around to see how other people are taking the concert, and notices Abby at the bar. Well, small world. Or rather small Village. She gives a shake of her head, smiling a little as she brings a foot up onto the stool, resting her chin on top to watch the next song.

A live performance is not what Fel was expecting. A quiet drink was, instead. But he doesn't seem displeased by the music. Won't make a difference to the drinking, either way. The Fed finds a place at the bar, seats himself, lifting a lazy hand in hopes of getting attention from at least one bartender.

Aaron scans the crowd as he stands from the keyboard, taking the cordless microphone with him and setting a little cordless earpiece into his left ear. A familiar darkness catches his eye, and his gaze fixes upon Tamsine for a moment. The redhead. There is a brief look of thought on his face before he gives one of the technicians two digits with his left hand. If Abby's giving Isabelle the apologetic looks now, Aaron will be giving Abby real apologies after this next piece, which is decidedly unrock. "I'd like to start tonight off a little differently.

"I can recognize about eighteen of you, professors and students alike, and I'd like to perform this song as a tribute to that. It's a bit distanced from my usual fare here, and I would like to ask some of you to bear with me, it will soon be over." He quirks a grin, "I would also like to dedicate this song to all of those here tonight who have lost someone close to them. This song serves as a reminder that no matter how hard things become, those we have lost are never truly gone and they are there in our hearts, always shining for us to go on if we only stop to listen. I know this from experience." He settles the microphone in the cradle above the keyboard and angles it upwards, for he does not sit down as he begins the soft melody of this next song. The piano sound this time is more akin to what it was when he made his false start — a soft, gentle tone.

"Who can say for certain," he sings, "Maybe you're still here. I feel you all around me, your memory's so clear. Deep in the stillness, I can hear you speak. You're still an inspiration, can it be? That you are my forever love, and you are watching over me from up above." He plays one final chord and then stands, taking the microphone with him, yet the piano continues to sound over the speakers. That explains the computer.

"Fly me up to where you are beyond a distant star. I wish upon tonight to see you smile — if only for a while to know you're there. A breath away's not far to where you are…." He leaves the stage, taking the microphone with him and going to shake the hands of all those who came to see him from NYU, and anyone who holds out their own hands for him to shake. He's in his element, and in his eyes, so many people brighten as he comes near. So radiant, they are.

"Are you gently sleeping, here inside me dream? And isn't faith believing true power can be seen. As my heart holds you just one beat away, I cherish all you gave me everyday. 'Cause you are my forever love, watching me from up above." He comes nearby Tamsine and reaches a hand out to shake. "And I believe that angels breathe," he gives a wave around to the audience before he moves back towards the stage to stand upon it again. "And that love will live on and never leave…" Drums sound as an orchestra flares from the speakers.

"Fly me up to where you are beyond a distant star. I wish upon tonight to see you smile — if only for a while to know you're there. A breath away's not far to where you are…." He returns to the piano, resting the microphone there and playing out the last few chords from the piano, taking over the computer that also provides his orchestra. "I know you're there…. A breath away's not far to where you are…." His eyes close with the final chord, and at any rate, all of those that came to see him and not Old Lucy's applaud and cheer. He always did those sorts of songs well, and it's something Old Lucy's never heard from him — soul. And there's something to be said about the large number of happy people all of a sudden. They don't buy the cheap drinks.

Another slow song. Ability will count for some, but still. Abigail had hired him to play some rock and rock, both classic and more contemporary. So far… She sighs, happily, and works at filling drink orders.

Tamsine nods her head in time to the music, feeling rather happy, curled up as she is on the stool. To Aaron, she is probably still a dark ball of despair that he can feed on, but that is slowly lifting.

Aaron brings the microphone to the front of the stage again, mug of tea from which he sips in his other hand. "I'd like to thank some old friends at New York University for lending me, with the exception of my own acoustic guitar here, pretty much all you see up here, including this little table and chair." He settles the cordless microphone in the stand at the front of the stage. "Before I kick things off, I'd like to have a moment of silence for all those we have lost," Aaron says. He turns his back to the audience as the stage lights go dim. He sets the cup of tea on the little table and picks up the electric guitar, pulling its strap over his shoulder and settling it at a comfortable position. Piano, drums, orchestra? There's more.

"Carry on my wayward son, there'll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don't you cry no more..." Aaron's voice is multiplied several times with a chorus effect, making it sound like there are more than one Aaron singing. Drums kick, and then it's showtime. The lights flash back to life as Aaron plays the electric guitar, flawlessly with personal embellishments to give his own flavour to the song, all the while backed by all manner of accompaniment thanks to a wealth of sampling libraries and what was around fifty hours of preparation in a studio for the concert. His voice is normal when it comes to the verses, but the chorus is in, well, chorus.

"Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreamin',
I can hear them say:

Carry on my wayward son,
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, well
it surely means that I don't know

On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune,
But I hear the voices say

Carry on my wayward son,
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more"

Just because he prefers softer songs doesn't mean he can't play the louder ones. The guitar being the instrument he's second-best at, it's no surprise that he gives one heck of a performance as it comes time for a guitar solo.

"Carry on — you will always remember
Carry on — nothing equals the splendor
Now your life's no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you

Carry on my wayward son,
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
(Don't you cry) Don't you cry no more"

"Thank you." He exchanges the electric guitar for his own acoustic guitar. "This next piece is a beautiful song written by Don McLean about the famous painter Vincent van Gogh."

"Starry, starry night..." It's quite possible that he plays it now more beautifully than he did on the street when Abby first heard him sing it. When he draws the song to a close, he takes a short bow and has a drink of his tea, which is starting to cool down. Once again, he takes up the electric guitar, this time playing clean, although he alternates between rhythm and lead guitar, the other part being taken up by the computer, which seems to have been adequately programmed for the performance.

"She says her love for me, could never die..."

After Run To You, he covers Cat's In The Cradle, Dust In The Wind, and Renegade. He gives a signal to one of his technicians twice, indicating them to skip a song as he appears to be wearing out. Then there's some tweaking with the computer and he takes up the electric guitar and begins playing a familiar guitar riff — the intro to Layla. He lets the last note, normally followed by the song's first verse, trail off as the acoustic version begins playing over the speakers. He sets the guitar back in its stand and moves back over to the keyboard. His fingers grace the keys once more to play a few chords before the first verse.

"What do you do when you get lonely..." He takes the cordless mic back out into the audience, taking a seat with a few groups of the folks from NYU, lingering close to Tamsine before working his way back up to the stage. Once the song is finished, he sings Coffee Girl backed only by the pre-recorded accompaniment. He takes the suit jacket from the chair on stage, along with a tie that's there, and puts them on. Then he takes up the electric guitar once more.

"This next song was made famous by Chuck Berry when it debuted in nineteen fifty-eight. It was, however, first performed in nineteen fifty-five by Marty McFly," Aaron says with a playful grin as the very familiar opening riff to Johnny B. Goode starts. It's a bit of a comic act, as he plays it right out of Back to the Future.

"Way down in Lou'siana down in New Orleans..."

After the performance reminiscent from the nineteen eighties sci-fi classic, Aaron takes the microphone and says, "Thank you." He takes a bow and leaves the stage as one of the folks from NYU steps up to the microphone. "Aaron Michaels," he says in a British accent, "Will return in twenty minutes. Until then, please enjoy the house music."

The stage and house lights are dimmed when Aaron returns to the stage in a white shirt, mug of coffee in hand. He takes several long drinks before setting it on the table that once held his tea. Similar to his first act, he starts off at the piano with a classic spanish piece with backing orchestra. It's shorter than the original and his first performance. For those that have the right vantage, Aaron's fingers can be seen as ittle more than a blur during some portions of the performance, and he's already worked up a bit of a sweat by the time he's finished. "Thank you." He stands up from the piano and walks to centre stage.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to invite the talented Jessica Sawyer to the stage to help me with this next piece. Please give her a warm welcome." Those from NYU of course cheer as a young blonde comes up on stage. She unveils the violin that was otherwise covered. It was the small hidden instrument. "No no, let's do this the other way around," Aaron says, handing her the electric guitar. He takes up the violin and holds it at his side as he walks back to centre stage. "This piece is a very famous Led Zeppelin from the seventies. This arrangement is a little difference but is no less rockin'."

The lights dim as Aaron takes the violin to his shoulder and begins to play it in what can only be called a furious passion. It does not take too long for what song it is to become apparent as the all-too-familiar riff of Kashmir is played simultaneously by Aaron on the violin and Jessica Sawyer on the electric guitar, both musicians backed by the computer's accompaniment. Jessica gets a guitar solo shortly before they draw the song to a close.

"Thank you. Jessica Sawyer, ladies and gentlemen!"

Jessica returns to her seat, setting the guitar in its stand and taking the violin from Aaron as he takes up his acoustic guitar to start his next song.

"I tasted, tasted love so sweet. And all of it was lost on me..." Following All We Are are covers of Fly Like An Eagle, Brown Eyed Girl, American Pie, Back To You, and a big band rendition of Moondance. Then things slow down as he plays Bridge Over Trouble Water and Whiter Shade Of Pale.

A song starts in the background with a rather familiar melody as Aaron takes the microphone from stand and holds it. "I saw her today at the reception..." He even tries to get some of the audience to sing along with him for the chorus as he again mingles with the crowd. When the song is over, he receives applause that even makes him smile.

"Thank you all very much for coming. It's eight thirty now and last call. Thanks again, and goodnight." He leaves the stage as applause continues. Long after the regulars of Old Lucy's have stopped clapping and cheering, the NYU folks continue, and Aaron returns to the stage and takes a seat at the keyboard. The applause tapers off as his lights dim.

His fingers begin to pound the keys with a somewhat familiar chord progression for some rock enthusiasts, but more likely science fiction enthusiasts, accompanied by sitar, bass, strings, and percussion.

Drums kick off with an electric guitar in a somewhat different form of the song, Aaron quickly strapping on his electric guitar for the solo. "There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief..."

"Thank you," he says to applause as he finishes the song. He then takes a seat at the keyboard once more, setting the microphone in the cradle there. The soft chords he plays on the piano should be familiar to pretty much anyone alive.

"Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us only sky..."

"…I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one." Aaron brings the final song to a close and stands to take a bow. "Thank you all for coming. Good night." He leaves the stage once more as the stage lights are dimmed and shut off.

Aaron waits until all of the customers have left before taking a seat at the keyboard again. The folks from NYU will recover their equipment the following day. For now, Aaron seats himself at the keyboard for a bit of time to himself while the few people still working clean up. He still has nearly a half-hour to make the fifteen-minute walk home. He makes a few tweaks to the computer before he starts to play. His fingers play the keys softly.

"When the night shows
The signals grow on radios
All the strange things
They come and go, as early warnings
Stranded starfish have no place to hide
Still waiting for the swollen Easter tide
There's no point in direction, we cannot even choose a side.

I took the old track
The hollow shoulder, across the waters
On the tall cliffs
They were getting older, sons and daughters
The jaded underworld was riding high
Waves of steel hurled metal at the sky
And as the nails sunk in the cloud, the rain was warm and soaked the crowd.

Lord, here comes the flood
We will say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
In any still alive
It'll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.

When the flood calls,
You have no home, you have no walls
In that thunder crash
You're a thousand minds, within a flash
Don't be afraid to cry at what you see
The actor's gone, there's only you and me
And if we break before the dawn, they'll use up what we used to be."

Aaron shuts off the computer system and sits in the darkness of the stage for another few minutes before rising and leaving Old Lucy's in silence.

Lord, here comes the flood
We will say goodbye to flesh and blood
If again the seas are silent
In any still alive
It'll be those who gave their island to survive
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry.

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