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September 8, 2012

Piano vs. Piano!

So, last night I did something I’ve never done before (hey, no wisecracks from the peanut gallery!)… I went to a bar (ok, so maybe I’ve been to a bar before…ahem…a long time ago…). Anywho, this was no ordinary bar…this was a piano bar. And not just any old ordinary piano bar, mind you. This was a dueling piano bar! Yup, that’s right. Piano vs. Piano!

Imagine, if you will, a dimly lit room with a small stage, and a few neon signs dotting the walls. You know, what a typical bar might look like (not that I’d know). And since this is Texas, there was the obligatory bull head hanging on the wall. Typical…except it was wearing a purple cowboy hat and smoking a cigar, with a guitar strapped around its neck. And it had a couple of other “decorations” on it too.

Aside from the bull, what made the place noteworthy was the fact that there were not one, but two pianos on the stage! Yay! Let the show begin!!

First, let me set the stage a bit (did you see what I did there?). There were four piano players, paired in two teams. Each team would do a set that lasted about an hour, riffing off each other and taking requests from (and making fun of) the audience. In between sets, they would all play together (think musical chairs but with, you know, musical instruments). They’d take turns playing the pianos, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, and even trumpets! Yeah, they were those kind of musicians. Pretty amazing. They did a wide selection of hits, from classic 70′s and 80′s tunes up to more recent hits. Everything from Billy Joel to ZZ Top. And we all sang along! Yeah, by the end of the night (four sets later), I was pretty hoarse.

As a side note, I’m proud to report that I didn’t know the words to most of the very few country songs they did. However, I am ashamed to admit that I did know at least part of the chorus from “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” Awkward… And, moving on…

Much to the piano players’ chagrin, they also had to do a few really bad songs. For example, someone from the audience requested (and actually paid for) “Call Me Maybe.” Really, people?!? But don’t worry, the piano players took a few liberties with it and had fun.

*** Spoiler Alert *** If you think you might go to the show and want to be surprised, you may want to stop reading now. I’m going to talk about a few of my favorite moments from the show. I’m sure every show is somewhat different, since a lot of the songs they do are requests from the audience. But I’m sure they do a lot of these numbers all the time. You’ve been warned.

There were so many great songs, I couldn’t possibly mention them all (or even remember them, for that matter). But here are a few of my favorite moments:

  • “The Time Warp,” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And yes, they did the dance. On the piano.
  • “Ring of Fire,” by Johnny Cash, complete with trumpets!
  • Of course, we had to have a little Journey moment (“Don’t Stop Believin’”). Seems like I’ve been having a lot of Journey moments lately.
  • “Dueling Banjos,” with a twist. Some of the “duels” included bits from “Flight of the Bumblebee,” “Für Elise,” and the theme songs from The Simpsons and Super Mario Brothers! What?!?

I think my favorite number of the evening had to be the Charlie Daniels Band hit “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” Not only is it a great song which made for a very entertaining performance, but they actually lit the piano on fire! Really. I’m not kidding. And, I may have forgotten to mention I was sitting in the front row. :)

August 26, 2012

Getting My 80′s Fix

I have some fond memories of my childhood.  When it comes to music, as a child of the 80′s, I primarily recall two things: power ballads and big hair.  And maybe leather pants. :-)  Ah, those were the days… MTV was cool (and actually played music videos).  Groups like Journey, Night Ranger, Def Leppard, and Dire Straits filled the airwaves.  You could still buy LPs at the local record store.  Did I mention those were the days? ;-)

Well, last night I got to relive a bit of my youth.  I went to see Journey in concert!  And they did not disappoint!  Journey has always been one of my favorite groups of that era.  With hits like Any Way You Want It, Don’t Stop Believin’, Who’s Crying Now, Faithfully, and Be Good To Yourself, who can blame me?  Right people?!?  Now, I will admit, before I got to the venue last night, I was wondering how big the crowd would be, and what the demographic would be.  I fully expected it would mostly be an older crowd, out to relive a bit of their youth (not that I’m admitting to being old, mind you).  So when I got there, I was not surprised that the place was packed, but I was a bit surprised at how mixed the crowd was.  Yes, there were the older folks (yes, older than me, you wise guy), and they were having way too much fun.  But there were also a lot of younger people there, and they were having a blast too.  Everyone got into the show, and everyone sang along.  I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised.  Some things are timeless…like Journey, and the 80′s.  And leather pants.  Well, maybe not leather pants…  :-)