Recovering from brain surgery, playing piano and eating encased meats: Keyboard king David Allen

Imagine being told you had a mass on your brain and that it had to come out immediately. Now imagine coming out of that surgery and not having control over one of your arms. That’s what happened to childhood friend David Allen, who’s had to take a new approach to his piano-playing career: He’s now playing gigs one-handed.

David’s a world class keyboard talent who spent the 90s and early 00s as part of the successful jam band Mr. Blotto. More recently, he’s been tearing up local events and seducing large Wrigleyville crowds as part of “Dueling Pianos.” With only his left hand on the keys, he’s inspiringly returned to the circuit, playing a few gigs a week.

David and I visit Dear Frank’s in Glenview and talk about David’s struggles, victories and the positive attitude that got him through. Sport peppers threaten the sincerity of the moment, as they lead me to uncontrollably hiccup off-mic.

Other highlights:

The Powerball jackpot is discussed, and I reveal the two things I’m going to buy first if I win. They involve soda and games. Because I’m 12.

We agree that in order for Dueling Pianos to be truly interesting, someone must die in the end.

From a distance, we spot the 24/7 “Eco Gym,” and wonder what exercise might be like.

David walks through his time in Mr. Blotto, and talks about playing dive bars while being significantly underaged.

I talk about radio dayparting of Cradle of Filth and the fate of radio station WZZN.

And David and I talk about high school memories. The stuff we can actually remember.

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