We all know what magic fingers can do. They can make a coin vanish or appear into or out of thin air. They can make that coin roll across their fingers effortlessly and then make another one appear. They can make a signed card vanish and miraculously appear stuck on the ceiling. I watched Shim Lim change the colour of a card from blue to red and then change the whole deck to red and then vanish the whole deck. Magic to be sure.
Last night I saw magic fingers and magic hands. Phil had a show, a ragtime show at a senior residence. He had played there before. It was so packed that the girl in charge had to put chairs in the stage area, behind him. I sat in one of those chairs, directly behind him a few feet away. Usually I sit at the back so I can let him know if the sound is working, etc. This time there wasn’t even standing room. I think it was his best concert ever. The people went wild. Everybody sang and Phil’s hands were flying fast and furious. All I saw was that bass hand going back and forth and he’s not even looking. The man beside me said, look at him go. How does he hit those notes like that? My very own thought, and I hear him play every night at home but I never saw that action before.
Phil is a stickler for time. An hour show is an hour show. Not 55 minutes or 65 minutes. He has it timed perfectly. However he spoke more than usual last night. And it was past the time and he had another two songs to play. When he turned to talk about the next song I caught his eye and pointed to my watch. He was shocked and the people gave me an argument. “We don’t want him to leave. Keep playing!” And one of the men in the audience called out, “Phil, the last time we had someone that played as well as you, it was you.” Everyone applauded. So he played his last two songs. Of course everyone came over to thank him after. But if you want to talk about magic hands and fingers, it was Phil Matlin last night!