Know Your Show-er: Don Walter
When they're not servicing your trade show software, they're leading pretty interesting lives. A behind-the-scenes look at our ivory-ticklin' server administrator & applications developer.
Name: Don Walter
Occupation: Senior Application Developer & Server Administrator
Years of Service: 7
Do you have a favorite MYS-specific story?
Well, there was that one time at a company outing to a Reds game that a co-worker saved my life by bravely sacrificing himself and taking a Joey Votto liner off his abs… I mean, how can anything top that?
How many people do you think have watched you play either piano or keyboard throughout your life?
It’s got to be close to 6 figures, if not over. Last year alone, I think I got out and played about 30 times. If I guess an average of maybe 200 people seeing me per show, that’s 6,000 right there. Between 12 years of playing in bands, 10 years of accompanying singers/choirs/musicals, and performing with Ben Folds Five, it’s got to be up there.
Aside from playing with Ben Folds (as Drew alluded to here), what’s the strangest or funniest experience you’ve encountered while performing?
The strangest thing that’s ever happened at a gig would have to be when we played Oktoberfest 2013, right next to the World Bratwurst-Eating Championship… seeing Joey Chestnut scarf down 70 brats in 10 minutes was a unique experience; not something I usually see at gigs.
Alright, tell us the Ben Folds story.
Long story short [editor's note: it's not short], I’m a huge fan of Ben Folds and Ben Folds Five. When I was in college, Ben Folds Five did an east coast tour. I had a weekend with no gigs, and this was a better alternative than staying and studying for my finals the next week, so I figured I’d take a weekend and drive to Scranton, PA to see them. I managed to convince another guy in my residence hall to join me for the trip, and off we went. Left Friday afternoon from Ball State University and headed east. We stopped and stayed with a friend of mine Friday night, then back on the road bright and early Saturday morning.
We got there a few hours before the doors opened for the general admission show, so we were first in line, and therefore in the front row when doors opened. I had the printed MapQuest directions in my pocket (Haha, MapQuest…), so I took them out and wrote a note to Ben asking if I could play One Angry Dwarf with them and threw it on stage. Halfway through the set, he saw it, read it, found me in the crowd and gave me a nod. So I run up on staging, easily convincing security on my way that it was cool, because Ben had invited me up (Seriously, way too easy).
I was waiting in the wings, and when the current song ended I walked out on stage to Ben’s piano. Ben looked at my with a very confused look, at which point I figured he had mis-read my note and thought I was just requesting that HE play One Angry Dwarf. I figured, what the heck, now’s my shot, so I asked him if I could play it. He kind of stammered around a bit, and the bass player, Robert, yelled out “What’s he going to play?”, and Ben responded with “Well, he’s going to play Dwarf”. The crowd went crazy, at which point he decided, what the hell, let’s do it. He gave me some instruction to just play a verse and chorus and then let him take over. I sat down, and will never forget the looks exchanged on stage when I started and they realized I actually could play, it went much better than they had imagined. Before I got the the end of the first chorus, Ben gave me a thumbs up and yelled to keep going, so I ended up playing the whole song with them. We rocked it, and then afterwards I disappeared back into anonymity.
What are some of the best parts of Cincinnati?
Some of my favorite things about being in Cincinnati are the excellent locally breweries, the great food and all of the local sports options. Between the Reds, Bengals, FC Cincinnati, Cyclones, UC and Xavier, there is no shortage of options for sports fans. Oh, and I can’t forget about the awesome local bands like Stays In Vegas!
Donuts, caffeine, or bourbon: You can only pick one for the rest of your life.
Can I have caffeinated bourbon flavored donuts? If I HAD to choose just one to enjoy for the rest of my life, I would have to go with bourbon. I could get over the caffeine withdrawals pretty easily, and I don’t want to eat too many donuts and ruin this killer dad bod I’ve got going on.
Who should be featured on the blog next?
I’m pretty sure John Sullivan has a surplus of free time right now…