Prepare to consider Michael Sawaya -- best known as the guy from the auto-injury law firm -- in a light in which it is pretty much guaranteed you have never considered him. To celebrate the release of Turbulence in the River, his new book about "finding your world and then finding yourself," Sawaya is hosting a reception that will feature him reading from the book and playing the flute, accompanied by Kenny Passarelli -- who used to play bass for Elton John -- on piano. There will also be interpretive dance.
The book, says Sawaya, "is not religious, it's spiritual" -- although he adds that it's too complicated to really explain. "This book has been in the making for six years, and I've been doing this stuff for 35," he says, "so of course there's a lot that goes into it. I think the book is just too complicated to just do a reading and let people know what it's about."
Here's what he can tell you: "The spirits have visited with me. In fact, I'd say this book is about 60 percent channeled."
If you think about it, though, the image of Michael Sawaya as spiritual is not entirely unprecedented -- for some time now, his commercials have been, well, kind of deep. Is it possible we'll find out which twelve values the Sawaya Law Firm lives by?
What is almost entirely unprecedented is that Sawaya also apparently plays the flute. "I've been playing since I was a kid," he says, "but it hasn't been until the last few years or so that I've really gotten good at it." He also, he mentions, plays the saxophone, though he won't be playing that on Sunday.
Accompanying him between readings will be Passarelli, who's been a bassist for David Crosby, Joe Walsh, the aforementioned Elton John and Hall and Oates, in addition to his own solo career on the piano. "We've known each other since high school," Sawaya explains. "He's just an amazingly talented musician." He's also the husband of dancer Janella Ayon, who, along with her partner, Jorge Torres Chavez, will add an element of "Mexican interpretive dance" to the evening, which will be "kind of interspersed throughout" the music and the readings, Sawaya says.
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If this all sounds a little weird, there is utterly no doubt that it is -- in a really awesome way -- and Sawaya himself is not unself-conscious about that. "You know, I've been a little reluctant to really put the message out about this," he admits.
But haters gonna hate, and Sawaya is not going let hating stand in his way. "I've spent a lot of money on marketing in my career," he says, "and I'm not trying to sell this book. I want it to come to the people who want to find it."
Find it Sunday at 3 p.m. the Jones Theater in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $35, and all proceeds go to benefit the Sawaya foundation. For more information, check the event's Facebook page.