ONALASKA — David Reedy’s career as a recording artist started rather modestly. A couple years ago, he decided to record an album for his parents, Howard and Barbara, filled with solo piano versions of their favorite tunes.
“I did it as a surprise and thank you to my parents for supporting me all those years through music lessons and all that,” said Reedy, who has built a thriving business over the past 27 years in Reed Music Studios in Onalaska, with 16 teachers providing lessons for some 400 students.
He made 75 copies of the CD, “As Time Goes By,” which in addition to the iconic title song from “Casablanca” also included “Moon River,” “Till There Was You,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “This Masquerade,” “Ebb Tide” and nine others.
“They loved it,” Reedy said of his parents’ reaction to the CD, the front cover of which features a photo of his mother on a tricycle at age 4. And his parents weren’t the only ones who loved it. A friend of his, Barbara Trane, played the CD at a church blood drive, and she was flooded with inquiries. People wanted to buy it.
“It just took off from there,” Reedy said. “I never intended to sell it at all. It totally surprised me.”
He had another 50 printed, then another 100 and the next thing you know Reedy had sold 1,000 copies. And it wasn’t long before people started asking when he was going to record a follow-up album.
“I was just so flattered, it’s ridiculous,” Reedy said.
Last spring, about a year after he completed “As Time Goes By,” Reedy decided maybe he did have a second album in him and he set about choosing songs, finding arrangements, playing around with the arrangements, practicing, practicing, practicing and attending to the myriad other tasks that go into recording an album.
The result is “Rhythms of Life,” a collection of 15 solo piano versions of more pop classics, including “Misty,” “The Windmills of Your Mind,” “Stormy Weather,” “Desperado,” “Send in the Clowns,” “All By Myself,” “Memory” and “When October Goes,” a special request from Trane.
“I wanted this one to be very thought provoking,” Reedy said. “A lot of the music has to do with love and loss and growing old.”
Reedy is throwing an album release party in the Cargill Room of The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern on Nov. 7 for “Rhythms of Life.” “I hope everybody likes it,” he said.
Both his albums were recorded in the recital hall at Viterbo University’s Fine Arts Center, on a Steinway piano that Reedy considers one of the best instruments in the world. “I adore that piano,” he said.
He’s come a long way from going across town as a 5-year-old in Arcadia to his great aunt’s house for piano lessons, only to have her tell him he’d never be any good because he couldn’t sit still. He recalls his mother playing Rachmaninoff as she cleaned and he was captivated.
“This little voice inside me said, ‘I want to do this,’” he said.
So is he ready to do an album of Rachmaninoff?
“Right now I need a break,” he said with a laugh. “Nobody say the word ‘recording’ to me for a while.”