Piano Man

Piano Man

[img 1 right]It was in a Cleveland restaurant that Joe Augustine discovered fly-fishing. He noticed several shadow-box displays of flies hanging on the

[img 1 right]It was in a Cleveland restaurant that Joe Augustine discovered fly-fishing. He noticed several shadow-box displays of flies hanging on the wall. Intrigued with the flies and how they were made, Joe looked in the phone book the next morning for the nearest Orvis store. He then drove 50 miles and bought himself an entire fly-fishing and -tying set up. That was 25 years ago, and Joe has been fishing ever since.

Such instantaneous passion is typical of Joe Augustine. His 35-year-long career as a jazz and classical pianist began in an equally spontaneous way while he was in high school.

"One day I'm walking to typing class in the morning and I hear the coolest music coming out of the band room," Joe says. After walking in on a music teacher playing the piano, he sat and listened, enraptured, for an entire hour. When the teacher finished, Joe got behind the keys and played a little. The teacher was amazed at Joe's raw talent and set him on a course of education in music that has carried him to the top of his profession.

In 1995 Joe received one of the highest accolades a pianist can receive when he was designated a "Steinway Artist" by the piano manufacturer Steinway&Sons, an award given to fewer than 1,000 pianists world wide. But despite a busy recording and concert schedule that puts him on the road for most of the year, Joe still finds time to spend on the river.

In fact, he says fishing acts as a release from the pressure of recording and traveling.

"There are times, in preparing for a major concert, when I've been at it for three months, and I need a couple days just to clear my head," he says. "I grab the fly rod and my bugs and my waders and I take all the time I can to just leave the music alone and give the creative banks some time to replenish themselves and enjoy the moment in the water."

Fly-fishing has also influenced Joe's music-writing process. "There have been several tunes I have written where the song found its way into my head while I was in the river," he says. "You ever walk down to the river and hear the beautiful, glorious music of the moving water? Music is always moving. At any given moment, the music is never the same."

This past November Joe entertained an audience of fly-tiers from around the world at the International Fly-Tying Symposium. His after-dinner performance-on a Steinway, of course-garnered a standing ovation.

To listen to some of Joe Augustine's recordings or to buy a CD, visit his Web site at: www.joeaugustine.com.