Buddy Shanahan, 1962-2012

Denise Lee writes about pianist Buddy Shanahan, beloved on the local cabaret scene, who died on Sunday.

published Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Over the last 20 years, several of us walked into a ramshackle piano bar with a sagging floor, dubious plumbing and the stench of cigarettes ingrained in every surface.

We went in for various reasons: To get a drink after a show, listen to some good music, hope to sing a song, maybe land a job. Over the years, many of us started down a path that would change our lives forever.

In this place called the Hideaway, officially known as Bill's Hideaway, seasoned veterans like Gary Floyd, Linda and Larry Petty, Sandra Kaye, Mark Allen Smith, Amy Stevenson and Lisa Michaels honed their craft and entertained the masses.

Newcomers to the cabaret scene, singers and musicians alike, like Angie McWhirter, William Blake, Cedric Neal, Anton Shaw, Peggy Honea, Larry White, Liz Mikel, myself and dozens of others developed our crowds—and our confidenceon that small, dirty stage every week. We came together and met old and new friends that would become part of our lives and extended family.

Central to this entire experience was Buddy Shanahan.

Some families gather around a table. Our family gathered around the piano.

Shanahan, 50, died unexpectedly on Sunday.

He also performed and music directed for musical theater productions at several local theaters, including WaterTower Theatre and Uptown Players, and performed in local bars such as Alexandre's and Woody's.

Buddy, your light will live on in every song we sing and every note we play! We love you and will miss you trememdously. But we know the angels are havin' one heck of an Open Mic Night right now!

◊ The memorial service will be 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4 at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas

◊ Feel free to leave your thoughts about Buddy Shanahan in the comments below. Thanks For Reading


Bernie Siben writes:
Tuesday, October 30 at 9:49PM

When I first met Buddy in the late 1980s, his Broadway repertoire was so limited that he had never heard of Stephen Sondheim. I quickly set him straight on that one. I always said that if he was available to play piano for me, why would I want to play for myself. He was a good friend, a great musician, and the best accompanist any singer could ever hope for. He wanted the singer to lead. He really understood the word "accompany." He never expected the singer's voice to accompany his piano! He helped many of us understand jazz harmonics and brought out the best in us by making us keep up with his talent and musicianship. I will miss him a lot, and always regret the loss of what he might have done for and with us for the next 20 years or more.

John (Joey) Koons writes:
Wednesday, October 31 at 10:52AM

I'm sitting at work in New York and this is just not sinking in. It's like when Buddy called me in Philadelphia several Thanksgivings ago to tell me we lost Charlie to a drunk driver. I can't begin to explain the profound influence Buddy had on and in my life. 1987 John L's ... "They pay me to play the piano, not to transpose." I wish I could be with everyone in Dallas right now. There's a large hole punched in life right now.

Sandra Kaye writes:
Wednesday, October 31 at 7:59PM

I shall never forget my first meeting Buddy Shanahan, he was green and I was greener, however, Buddy could read and interpret very well, so his greenery was simply beautiful. As a team, we were able to do what we do together and have our audience believe. It was magic, it was pure magic. With Buddy as the accompanist, a singer was given a freedom seldom rendered by the average piano player. Buddy could play anything at all, written on paper or not. To quote Robert Sanders, (a genius piano player himself), “Buddy has NO key phobias.” Bernie Siben, a perfectionist and a very talented pianist in his own right, would periodically stand at the mic to sing, however, when you look over at the piano, it would always be Buddy Shanahan as his accompanist. Only Buddy could be trusted to play for an artist like Bernie. Also to quote Jim Caruso, “Buddy does not make mistakes.” Jim was RIGHT ON about that. Dallas will never be the same, NEVER, without our own Buddy Shanahan to play the theme.

Chris Baldwin writes:
Wednesday, October 31 at 1:01AM

Well done, Denise. Beautiful tribute to a beautiful person. I was, and always will be, jealous of Buddy's skills on the 88s. And dammit, I never got to hear him accompany you on "Last Call Blues". See you Sunday...if I'm not abed! xoxoxox

Gaynelle Ihms writes:
Thursday, November 1 at 9:10AM

Buddy collaborated with Tim Seelig and my son Joel Ihms on the song “Sooner or Later” on the Turtle Creek Chorale cd “Personals.” Buddy shared his knowledge of music freely. He was patient and supportive working with Joel – letting him shine while providing beautiful music to back him up.

Lisa Realini writes:
Thursday, November 1 at 10:52PM

I met Buddy while I sat at the Hideaway sipping on Diet Coke back in the late 80s to late 90s...What a true talent and kind soul! His music touched so many lives, mine is just one!

david and friends of BHCS writes:
Sunday, November 4 at 12:56PM

Buddy may you rest in peace your talent was awesome even in high school at BHCS, that was nothing less than a blessing and a talent that our Lord God gave you and you used it for the good and as i have read the comments of others you obviously helped and inspired other artist and friend you will never be forgotten.

myrnaHunt writes:
Sunday, November 4 at 8:03PM

I started at John L's with Buddy in 1993. I was newly divorced, trying to break into the music industry in Dallas, insecure and afraid, but Buddy and his talent made me believe I could do anything. I loved Buddy and always will...the world has lost a musical genius and I have lost a friend. Be free my friend! Myrna Hunt

Zachary B. K. Splawn writes:
Wednesday, November 7 at 3:30PM

Fifteen years ago, I shared the stage with Buddy and Lisa Michaels at Bill's Hidwaway. An established song writer and not yet known as a singer, Buddy and his brilliant light played many a melody with me to entertain an exuberant crowd. An entertainers dream is to touch and move their audience. You helped me in kicking off my professional career and will always be greatful. You brought such elogance and class with your presence. You will always live in the hearts of many, and will be greatly missed.

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Buddy Shanahan, 1962-2012
Denise Lee writes about pianist Buddy Shanahan, beloved on the local cabaret scene, who died on Sunday.
by Denise Lee

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