If photojournalist Brendan Bannon had not stopped by the Delaware Nursing Home to talk with a doctor about a project, Boyd Lee Dunlop might have died without recording his music. The bio Hank Cherry wrote for Dunlop’s Web site tells the story.
Dunlop had been a musician from the time he he acquired his first piano, a broken-down instrument found outside his house. Although his aunt was a violinist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and his brother Frankie became a well-known drummer, Dunlop found his work in the steel mills and railyards of Buffalo.
He never stopped playing piano and was a regular in clubs around his city. Music was his soul’s work, but the wider world might never had heard him had Bannon not sat down beside him.
National Public Radio (NPR) broadcaster Scott Simon recorded an interview with Dunlop and Bannon in December 2011. Bannon tells the story of meeting Dunlop in the nursing home. The pianist offered to play for him. The sounds he brought out of the seedy old instrument in the cafeteria set in motion the chain of events that led to the 85-year-old musician’s recording his first album, with the help of producer Allen Farmelo.
Listen to some of Dunlop’s music, “Boyd’s Epic Journey”, on NPR. Watch him in the video below, rehearsing for his CD release. You will recognize a jazz master at work. Buffalo audiences have surely known that for years. Now, thanks to a chance meeting, the world will.
Learn more about Dunlop, Bannon and Farmelo: