View Full Version : Cool story for you Ben Folds fans.

04-15-2006, 12:39 PM
Schneider: Ride to laundromat lands cabbie on sold-out stage

Douglas Richard "Rick" Shaw, 53, drives a cab for Lansing's Big Daddy Taxi.

On Monday, he took three men to Sunshine Laundromat & Dry Cleaners at Frandor Shopping Center. As far as Shaw knew, they were just three guys with dirty laundry.

While Shaw waited in the cab for the guys to drop off their stuff, he passed the time as he often does with his Hohner Golden Melody - an instrument that goes anywhere.

It was, in fact, the blues harp's portability that drew Shaw to it in 1971.

"I picked it up on my way to Vietnam," said Shaw, a former member of the U.S. Army. "It was easy to carry."

Shaw was just getting warmed up when the first guy came out of the laundromat and got in the cab. Shaw kept playing.

"Yeah - I like to show off," he admitted.

The guy chipped in with a little hands-on-knees percussion, and when his two buddies climbed back into Shaw's cab, they contributed more tapping and other sound effects. Suddenly, Shaw was backed by a whole rhythm section.

Unusual offer
One of the guys asked Shaw what he was doing later that day.
"I told them I was free," Shaw said.

The guy told Shaw to meet him at the back door of Wharton Center that night and he would put Shaw and his harmonica on stage.

Naturally, Shaw was skeptical to say the least: "I'm like, 'Yeah, right - Wharton. Who put you up to this?' "

Well, the stranger turned out to be Ben Folds, the singer-songwriter-pianist, who was, indeed, performing for a sold-out Wharton crowd that night.

In an e-mail to me, Ben Folds fan Brad Flory of Jackson described Shaw's big moment this way:

"Early in the show, Folds called out a Lansing cab driver named Rick Shaw to play blues harmonica.

"He more or less killed.

"Folds let him play on at least two more songs, gave him a vulgar spoken line during another song and threw his name into lyrics a few times.

"It took guts to go on stage because it was a sold-out crowd of college kids."

Dream night
Back behind the wheel of his cab this week, Shaw, a native of Springfield, Ohio, who spent 30 years in Alaska before coming to Michigan a couple of years ago, called the experience the realization of a "lifelong dream."

Shaw has performed for audiences before - mainly in bars around Juneau - but Wharton was a different kind of gig entirely.
"I had a great time," he said. "The place was packed."

Shaw landed in Lansing after visiting his sister in Clare. While there, he saw an ad for a Lansing blues bar and thought the capital city might be his kind of place.

His early days here were not promising. He did a bit at the Volunteers of America homeless shelter before going to work for Big Daddy.

So far, Shaw hasn't received any work here as a harmonica player, and, in fact, got nothing but glory for his one-night stand at Wharton.

But, as he learned Monday at the laundromat, if he keeps playing, anything can happen.

"From the homeless shelter to Wharton - not bad," Shaw said.


04-15-2006, 12:39 PM
Hope this isn't a repost.

04-15-2006, 01:31 PM
That's a very cool story. Since I'm past American Idol stage, maybe I should start driving cabs to get my big break??!

04-15-2006, 03:09 PM
That's a very cool story. Since I'm past American Idol stage, maybe I should start driving cabs to get my big break??!

Or audition for the next CBS Rockstar: Supernova.

04-15-2006, 05:26 PM
That is a cool story. I wish there was video of the guy's reaction when they made the offer and when he actually got out on stage.

Archie F. Swin
04-15-2006, 06:43 PM
Seems like something Ben would do