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Take a seat at the painted piano downtown Vernon

James Johnson takes a moment to pull up a seat at the new painted piano in downtown Vernon.
July 23, 2015 - 8:30 AM

VERNON - The people of Vernon are making beautiful music together, thanks to a colourful, communal piano on Main Street.

The old upright piano appeared about three weeks ago on the sidewalk outside a 30 Avenue business, Good Gracious. The store’s former owner Dave Russell, who is now retired, came up with the idea after seeing Kelowna’s Pianos in the Park. Assistant manager Josi Apps says the piano is the legacy of a great man who wanted people to have fun.

“Every time I hear someone playing it, I think of him. It gives people so much joy. It’s like a magnet; if you’ve played piano before you can’t not stop,” Apps says.

Russell bought the piano from Dodds Auction for $50 and a group of artists recently gave it a fresh coat of paint, and some funky pizzazz. The opportunity to play in the open air on such a unique piano is one many clearly can’t resist.

More often than not, you can find someone sitting at the piano, filling the downtown street with music. There haven’t been any celebrities yet, like Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler who put on a surprise show in Kelowna recently. But, that doesn’t mean the piano hasn’t seen talent.

Resident James Johnson has stopped by a couple times now, drawn over with curiosity and itching fingers.

“I have a keyboard in Toronto and have been waiting for it to be shipped out,” Johnson, who just moved to Vernon a few months ago, says. “I’ve been looking for a piano to sit down on.”

Like many others, he found one in the most unlikely place. Pianists of all ages and skill levels have enjoyed taking turns at the black and white keys, and Apps has even noticed people playing at night when she walks by with her dog. Audience or not, people seem to like the idea of a sidewalk piano that anyone is welcome to play.

“It’s something we’re really, really proud of. We just hope all of Vernon enjoys it. It’s for all of us,” Apps says. “It’s definitely brought out lots of community spirit and community connections.”

One morning, Apps was greeted by the incredible piano playing of a travelling man. He had a backpack and a bedroll with him. There was no hat to put donations in, but Apps gave him some money anyways.

“He was absolutely amazing. You might look at him and pass him by, but sitting there at the piano, people don’t have a face. It’s just the music,” she says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724. 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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