Sitting in the front row, six feet away from Tom Waits as he sang and played the piano at the Passim Coffeehouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I scribbled this pencil sketch. It was November 10, 1974 and it was my first experience of drawing a musician during a performance.
Nine years ago I gave this little sketch to the owners of the gallery that was representing my work. It was seen hanging in the gallery by a man who immediately recognized it as Tom Waits. He insisted on buying it even though it wasn’t for sale. He didn’t want a reproduction, so I agreed to draw a “copy” of the little sketch. What a mistake! The original drawing was done in less than a minute, inspired and guided by Tom Waits himself, sweat on his face, smoke spiraling up from where his cigarette rested on the piano.
Three and a half hours of struggling to be expressive with my pencil and re-capture the magic of a moment that happened two decades before resulted in a less than spectacular copy of the sketch. Fortunately, the customer was satisfied, but I felt miserable. I hadn’t drawn or painted “live” for at least ten years and I realized how much I missed those moments of bringing art and music together.
Though I have only this blurry reproduction of the original drawing, I am printing it and framing it to hang in the show at Connexions Gallery in Easton PA, a tribute to the moment that started it all, the seed that has grown into my greatest passion.