Oddly enough, it was a broken finger that pushed Norco native Jim Lockwood towards the piano.
Lockwood grew up wanting to be a musician, like each of his parents – and like the Beatles, who fascinated him as a child after seeing them on the Ed Sullivan Show. He started out as a guitarist, but when he broke his left index finger at the age of 20 he couldn’t bend it anymore to be able to play like that because he lost 50 percent of its use. But having only to lengthen the number to hit the piano keys made this instrument an attractive alternative.
“I’m a much better pianist than I’ve ever been a guitarist, so it worked out pretty well for me,” said Lockwood, a singer, songwriter, artist and – yes – pianist who regularly puts his talents to the table. parish community of St. Charles and the community of the New Orleans area as a whole.
On Saturday, Lockwood will be featured in a unique display alongside fellow musicians Lacey Troutman and Tommy McNulty, a dueling piano show at the Truck Farm Tavern in St. Rose. Lockwood and Troutman will be on piano and McNulty on drums. The show will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
This is not the first of these shows for artists, who have worked together on several occasions in shows in New Orleans, but it is the first for them in this place. Troutman has performed all over the world on cruise ships and resorts, and Lockwood said the two have varied styles that form a good mix. McNulty, meanwhile, is a seasoned drummer who performed for many years and with many different artists, most notably touring with N’Sync in the 1990s.
“It’s a high energy show, all demands,” Lockwood said. “We’re going to have a list of requests on each table. People write the songs they want to hear and we’ll try to play them if we know them. If we don’t, we’ll be wrong and try to play anyway. It’s funny. “
Lockwood, who regularly performs solo shows at Truck Farm Tavern, said it’s always a special night when he can perform at his home.
“I grew up here, I went to Destrehan High School. So it’s really cool for me to go back to my playgrounds and play locally for the people I grew up with, ”said Lockwood.
Lockwood has given solo and dueling piano performances for the past eight years at various venues. It’s the fulfillment of a long-held dream of becoming a full-time musician. He had worked in the trucking industry for many years and was scratching his performance itch at concerts on the weekends.
One day he was contacted by a longtime friend and mentor just as Lockwood made a commitment to become a serious pianist. Sometimes timing is everything.
“He called and asked me if I would be interested in doing a dueling piano show on Bourbon Street,” Lockwood said. “It created an opportunity for me. I fell into it quickly and learned how to do it, and have been doing dueling and solo piano shows since about 2013.
It was these shows that allowed him to go from a part-time musician to a full-time musician. He sold his trucking business and dived headfirst into the scene, and at one point was performing six times a week.
Then COVID-19 came along, and the music stopped, just like countless others in his profession.
“It was like someone flipped a switch,” Lockwood thought. “I went from a very satisfying full-time career – the one I’ve always wanted – to nothing at all. It was a complete shock. “
He filed for unemployment and used his savings to hover before making a call. He contacted the man he sold his trucking business to years ago and asked if there was any work available. He was lucky: bought a pickup truck and Lockwood could make deliveries as a contractor, the new owner said.
“I was very fortunate to have someone to turn to who could help me, based on my past experience,” Lockwood said.
But while he regained a steady income, the dead period the live entertainment industry was going through was odd nonetheless.
“You know, we’re talking about eight or nine months without playing a concert, and that’s very unusual for musicians used to working full time,” he said.
Once the door opened to play again, he moved quickly. First, he contacted three other musicians who also wanted to get back to work and formed the group The Maniacs, performing outdoors wherever it was allowed.
“Fortunately, I had other musicians to contact, and I am very grateful for that… because piano concerts are mostly held indoors, that was not an option at the time,” recalls Lockwood.
Now those inner places are back and the crowds have been receptive. Lockwood says he’s set to resume his pre-COVID workload and can get even busier at times.
“I think everyone is so looking forward to seeing live shows after last year, and I see more opportunities,” he said. “It was tough for a while, but it’s great to come back to it.”