The Harpsichord at Club 33

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This is a story about one of the best days of my life. I’ll put it up there with the arrival of Joby, my wedding, the Panic trip to Hawaii, and playing Super Mario 64.

We worked with the gang at Pacific Helm on a rare and interesting side project, and as weird payment for their time, we took them (and our collective friends) on a trip to Disneyland, one of my favorite places on the planet.

Thanks to the one-of-a-kind Louie Mantia and a mysterious benefactor, our crew wound up at Club 33.

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Club 33, if you don’t know, is the “secret” restaurant at Disneyland, discreetly tucked away in New Orleans Square, requiring paid membership (and long waiting list) to enter, and offering very fancy and delicious food (as well as the only booze in the park). It has a beautiful balcony that overlooks New Orleans square. It was wonderful and relaxing, a total oasis in a whirlwind of a place.

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Then we spotted the harpsichord.

You have to understand that I hate playing music in front of people. I’m still traumatized by a moment in Japan, where there was a piano and a room full of business associates chanting my name to play something. I froze in terror. I couldn’t do it. It’s one of those memories that spark an involuntary lemon-sucking face when it springs into my mind.

But 2013 is all about change, if you hadn’t heard. And Disney music is a huge part of my life, especially the theme park music. And the guys came back with some news: “We asked. You can play the harpsichord.”

I’d always wanted to go to Club 33.

I’d always wanted to play a harpsichord.

I’d always wanted to play Disney music in Disneyland.

So yeah I had to make this happen.

My playing isn’t great, and I’m obviously insanely nervous, and I tried to avoid looking up to see if anyone was paying attention, but with the support of nice people, I did it:

It felt like my whole life had led to this wonky ragtime rendition of Grim Grinning Ghosts. I could literally not have been happier.

(There’s more. A bonus duet of Baroque Hoedown (“Main Street Electrical Parade”) with Adam Lisagor? Icing on the already delicious cake. And naturally I couldn’t resist a little bit of Pirates, perfect for the harpsichord.)

Once the buzz wore off, I hit Wikipedia:

A harpsichord which was rumored to have been an antique was in fact custom-built for Lillian Disney specifically for use in Club 33. The underside of the lid features a Renaissance-style art piece that was hand-painted by Disney artists. Elton John and Paul McCartney have each played this harpsichord.

That’s it. Close up shop. We’re done here. Life, you can be pretty great.

(Photos and Video from champions Louie Mantia and Patrick Gibson.)

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