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North Bay pianist Beau D draws inspiration from injury

A talent at the piano from the age of three, and a Sonoma County resident since he was eight, Beau D Flasher is a master behind the keys.

Flasher got some of his jazz chops from gifted instructor Mel Graves, and for a decade he made a good living by teaching piano and giving occasional performances that showcased his skillful technique and graceful playing. Still, he struggled to find satisfaction.

“I stopped teaching because I wanted to get away from music to enjoy it more,” says Flasher, who performs a solo concert June 20 at Sonoma State University. “I wanted to understand myself a little more. I was helping people with music, but I wanted to reach them in other ways.”

That was before the accident.

In August 2012, Flasher was on a friend’s property in west Sonoma County when he stumbled down a hillside into a row of solar panels. The collision cut Flasher’s dominant arm to the bone, and severed four tendons that controlled his right hand.

“I didn’t feel it,” he recalls, showing off the striking, angular scar on his forearm. “I was just looking at it, thinking, ‘There’s no way this is happening.'”

For 10 days the tendons remained severed while he waited for treatment. Doctors were able to reconnect them in a procedure that essentially glued them back together. The tendons held, but there was no way to know if Flasher would ever play again.

“I didn’t touch a piano for half a year,” says Flasher. When he did, he was shocked to discover the lasting effects of his injury. “When I got back to hitting the keys, the timing was off,” he says.

The neural messages from brain to finger were delayed by a half second in his right hand. Flasher realized that to play again, he had to re-time his entire brain and body, even synching up his noninjured left hand to account for the latency in his right.

For two years, Flasher worked his way toward recovery. “I just started to play and play, and I wrote—I wrote a song a day,” he says. “This new energy came out of nowhere.” The newfound energy inspired him to return to playing music, and it also manifested in his daily life.

“I was hard to get to know,” says Flasher of his previous personality. “And I realized that I wasn’t allowing myself to be open and vulnerable, and I didn’t want to hold all that in again. I said, ‘I’m going to choose love everyday,’ and it affected all areas of my life.”

Since the accident, Flasher has found a renewed passion for inspiring others through his experience and through his music. This week, he steps back onto a stage for the first time in three years to perform a selection of his latest compositions accompanied by a powerful multimedia presentation.

“[The accident] was an important event in my life, like a rite of passage,” says Flasher. “I’m grateful for it, because it led me in a direction I needed to go. I used to hide the scar, but I don’t anymore.”