Stories From Home - Jim Clayton

Every week, we ask a different local artist to provide their unique perspective on the pandemic experience from a musician’s point of view. Through words, video and music, each musician will share their story, along with an audio or video sample of a recent project, and a link to purchase their music so that you can support their work.

This week, pianist Jim Clayton talks about keeping the audience entertained, the value of a metronome, and his online Piano Bar, soon to celebrate its 300th episode.

"Work ground to a halt. Most of my gigs are corporate events, but I do a lot of retirement homes, playing and singing the Great American Songbook. March 12 of last year, I played one where they made sure I sanitized my hands before entering, and signed a form about whether I'd traveled recently. Two days later, the cancellation emails started coming in. Two large corporate events and some stateside dates were cancelled; thank goodness for deposits!

Philosophically, I’ve learned (through my online performances) that to most audiences, being distinct as a performer is more important than being technically good. Technically, I’ve learned how much I rely on rhythm sections to keep time; practicing with a metronome has been crucial, after eleven months without a bassist to keep me in line.

The online Piano Bar was the big one. It started off as a goofy way to entertain myself and my daughter Lenny, an “ask me anything” combined with taking song requests. We did it twice, and then someone emailed to ask “are you guys on tonight?” and now it’s been nearly 300 shows. Lenny still co-hosts sometimes. And I’ve continued to work on a collection of reinvented pop songs, the music of my own youth (late 1970s and the 1980s) including favourites by Ian Thomas, Paul Simon, Lyle Lovett, and Bonnie Raitt, arranged for my jazz group. An agent friend suggested we name the record after where I grew up: The Chronicles Of Sarnia. I might use that title."

Jim’s Piano Bar reaches episode #300​ on Monday March 8, 2021.

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