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#104394 - 11/10/06 05:45 AM Piano bar, the worst gig around
SemiLiveMusic Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/28/04
Posts: 2204
Loc: Louisiana, USA
I went to an upscale restaurant recently. They have a separate bar with a piano. So, a piano bar, you could say. This poor guy played and sang well enough and I watched the crowd several times out of curiousity. Nobody ever looked his way or every acknowledged him in any way. Everyone is in there yacking away.

I know two guys who played that gig and lasted a few months until they couldn't stand it anymore. One guy told me how much it paid and it was incredible. A very nice salary with benefits.

I guess the owners figure it adds something or they wouldn't do it but geez.

I don't go to piano bars but the only lively one I've seen was in New Orleans at Pat O'Brians. But... people go there for that reason, to listen and sing along.

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Bill
Yamaha PSR2000
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#104395 - 11/10/06 05:48 AM Re: Piano bar, the worst gig around
DonM Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/25/99
Posts: 16735
Loc: Benton, LA, USA
Where was it? Superior? I played one for years, except it as an "organ" bar. Always had good participation and response.
DonM
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#104396 - 11/10/06 06:19 AM Re: Piano bar, the worst gig around
Stephenm52 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/13/05
Posts: 5126
Loc: USA
Quote:
Originally posted by SemiLiveMusic:
I went to an upscale restaurant recently. They have a separate bar with a piano. So, a piano bar, you could say. Nobody ever looked his way or every acknowledged him in any way. Everyone is in there yacking away.

I know two guys who played that gig and lasted a few months until they couldn't stand it anymore. One guy told me how much it paid and it was incredible. A very nice salary with benefits.

I guess the owners figure it adds something or they wouldn't do it but geez.



I have recently done some work at an upscale restaurant (keyboard only no singing). The owner mostly hired me for private parties in the function room of the facility. He has sold the resturant and his last night there he hired me to play in the lounge. He never had music in the lounge or the restaurant, just music for special events. When I arrived to set up at 5:30 the place was packed wall to wall people. Started playing at 6 and 95% of the people never looked my way. As the evening wore a few people did applaud. At the end of the evening those left really gave me a round of applause( maybe they were glad I stopped playing ) Bottom line the job payed very well so I went away happy.



[This message has been edited by Stephenm52 (edited 11-10-2006).]

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#104397 - 11/10/06 07:06 AM Re: Piano bar, the worst gig around
captain Russ Online   content
Senior Member

Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 7291
Loc: Lexington, Ky, USA
Playing background music in upscale restaurants and lounges is a challenge. My experience is, people listen. They may not be as vocal as customers at other types of venues, but they are sometimes more knowledgable and just want to hear the music without additional "baggage".
you have to really watch the volume, minimize the "clinkers" and make sure the versions of tunes you play are not too "busy".

These are the places I work, and I'm happy to get the opportunities...

Russ

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#104398 - 11/10/06 07:25 AM Re: Piano bar, the worst gig around
Fran Carango Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/26/99
Posts: 9673
Loc: Levittown, Pa, USA
Maybe he wasn't "entertaining"..
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#104399 - 11/10/06 07:47 AM Re: Piano bar, the worst gig around
Esh Offline
Member

Registered: 09/22/05
Posts: 256
Loc: Hilton Head, SC, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Fran Carango:
Maybe he wasn't "entertaining"..


Exactly. Did he play with any accompaniment? Was his music upbeat or slow? IMHO if you want to either be ignored or end the night then all you have to do is play three or more slow songs in a row. Even if people request nothing but slow stuff at a piano bar (they often do) you have to mix the songs/tempos to keep it lively and interesting. And having accompaniment so you can do some faster jazz trio swings makes all the difference.

I play a piano bar on Friday nights and inevitably somebody wants to hear "My Way" or something like it almost as soon as I start playing... I refuse. I tell them that I will play the slow stuff after I liven the place up a bit and they usually understand that.

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#104400 - 11/10/06 07:52 AM Re: Piano bar, the worst gig around
SemiLiveMusic Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/28/04
Posts: 2204
Loc: Louisiana, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Esh:
And having accompaniment so you can do some faster jazz trio swings makes all the difference.


There is a baby grand; they don't allow you to bring a keyboard. A real piano, haha. I also noted his volume was low. I'd bet they make him keep it low. I'd bet they just want it for the look and as background music. Ugh.

Actually... hmmm... I forgot to look for his sound system. He WAS singing into a mic but I don't recall if the piano was mic'd.


------------------
Bill
Yamaha PSR2000
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Bill

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#104401 - 11/10/06 08:13 AM Re: Piano bar, the worst gig around
Esh Offline
Member

Registered: 09/22/05
Posts: 256
Loc: Hilton Head, SC, USA
You don't have to have a keyboard for accompaniment... I use an MP3 player with my backing tracks when I play grand piano (actually my Music Pad Pro). It makes a lot of difference having a beat to go with the music, and you can still keep the volume low. My Friday night piano bar gig is at an upscale restaurant with an unamplified grand piano so I just use my MPP with my MS KP-100s amp... easy setup, great sound, too much fun!


[This message has been edited by Esh (edited 11-10-2006).]

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#104402 - 11/10/06 08:51 AM Re: Piano bar, the worst gig around
Bill in Dayton Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/23/04
Posts: 2202
Loc: Dayton, OH USA
My piano bar story:

Several years ago I was performing at an upscale steak house in downtown Dayton. The baby grand was in the center of the room, in a pit. I sat down the first time and began to play something and couldn't believe my ears...

The sound seemed to be muffled in a way I'd never heard before...

I'm talking seriously muffled...

I stop...and lift the lid of the piano and inside it are several pieces of lightweight felt. The manager approached me and said "Don't you take those out of there!"

I thought for a second what was really important to me...

I explained that I was here to entertain her guests by playing the piano, but that under these circumstances, I would not continue. I asked how why are they in there? She explained the previous piano guy needed them so his playing wasn't too loud. I told her I can either leave now or I remove the felt and you tell me if its too loud. She said if she got one complaint...I'd never work for her again.

I played all evening...made a bucket of tips...and at the end of the night, she thanked me for playing softly. (I hadn't really played all THAT soift I thought, either...)

She then said "...when so & so played, it was really, really loud and percussive. She said my playing was prettier..."

"so & so" turned out to be a kick-ass ragtime guy who could play circles around me.

I did the gig a few more times and moved on...

Bill in Dayton
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#104403 - 11/10/06 11:57 PM Re: Piano bar, the worst gig around
Carrie-uk Offline
Member

Registered: 02/23/04
Posts: 168
Loc: England
My husband and I splurged on a week-long stay in a really posh hotel down in the south of England a couple of years ago. There was a really nice piano bar we sat in for drinks, with a beautiful baby grand sitting vacant every night. I asked the bar staff why no-one every played and he said the last guy recently quit and they haven't hired another player yet. I told him I was a piano player of sorts and he encouraged me to give it a go...

Anyway, I played some cover songs and a couple that I had written - the place was packed and almost everyone just carried on drinking and chatting as normal, completely ignoring me. I actually didn't mind because I'm not really a performer as such. However, there was one gentleman with his wife that heard my playing and came into the bar just to listen. He kept offering to buy me drinks if I continued to play. It was such a good feeling!

One of these days I'd love to get back out there and perform again...

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