Every Song You Love Was Written By The Same Two Guys…

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A great article in today’s NY Post, breaks down the recent history and trends of modern songwriting.  It also removes all the fantasy and mystery behind what today’s listeners may THINK is the romantic process of artists communicating their own deepest feelings through a song you hear on the radio (or these days, Spotify…).

A review of John Seabrook’s new book, THE SONG MACHINE, it begins with the story of what happened in 2009 when record execs came up with a way to rehabilitate Rihanna’s image after the Chris Brown debacle.

Give it a read, if you dare.

The Apocalypse is Nigh…

And no, we don’t mean the fast-approaching Hurricane Joaquin, now possibly making it’s way towards the East Coast.

We mean that *other* hurricane.  Hurricane Honey-Boo-Boo.

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Yup.  That’s a ten year old, in full make up.

Apparently in this age of selfies, snapchats and other instant look-at-me-look-at-me gratification, Honey Boo Boo can now release her own “song”.  And we use those quotes liberally.

Her new track, “Movin’ Up”, not to be confused with the awesome 70s Jeffersons theme song, is two minutes of your life that you won’t ever get back.  And she’s brought along the entire Honey Boo Boo circus for back-up.

So why are we spending precious blog inches on this ear felony?

One reason only.  As inevitable as the coming tides, (lookin’ at you, Joaquin…) some lugnut will walk into our dueling show sometime and ask for this song, a song that makes Rebecca Black’s “Friday” sound like Hey Jude.

And that means that we Dueling Piano players have to give up precious RAM space to learn this composition.  Say goodbye to that favorite childhood memory.  Or that recipe you always wanted to remember.  Or high school trig.  Make room for “Movin Up”.

Group Table Discounts – New for Fall 2015!

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Shake Rattle & Roll Dueling Pianos is thrilled to announce that we are now offering group table discounts at our Saturday night NYC Dueling Pianos show.

Now, the show in its fifth SOLD OUT year is making the best party in town even more affordable!

And the public has jumped at the opportunity – in just the first week, we have sold 2-3 tables every single day!

Come visit us this fall, and see the longest running Dueling Pianos show in NYC.

You can purchase your group tables of 8, 12 or 20 right at our site – www.ShakeRattleRollPianos.com

Broadway Performer Defends An Audience Member With Autism

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For those who follow the NYC theater scene, this has been a year of strained relations between the actors and their eager audience members.

Rebukes from the stage for those who answer cellphones mid-show.  Derision for audience members who sneak onto the stage because they think they can plug in their cellphone for a recharge.

But now, a response of a different kind.  Recently, at a performance of Broadway’s The King and I, a mother brought her autistic child to the performance.  The child was making sounds during some quieter moments that elicited shushes from the neighboring audience members.

One of the members of the company, and a friend of Shake Rattle & Roll, Kelvin Moon Loh, took to Facebook to voice his opinion, and in his words, “this post won’t go the way you think it will.”

He defended the mother, and chided the audience for their lack of compassion and understanding.  Calling her choice “brave”, his post has received international attention from families and media alike.

Certainly, this is a moment for performers of all stripes and styles to take a quick gut-check as to how we would have reacted, in similar circumstances.  Bending to the will of a crowd (drunk or otherwise) is certainly easier.   Bravo to Kelvin for taking a stand that is also “brave”.

Here is his FB post in its entirety:

I am angry and sad.

Just got off stage from today’s matinee and yes, something happened. Someone brought their autistic child to the theater.

That being said- this post won’t go the way you think it will.

You think I will admonish that mother for bringing a child who yelped during a quiet moment in the show. You think I will herald an audience that yelled at this mother for bringing their child to the theater. You think that I will have sympathy for my own company whose performances were disturbed from a foreign sound coming from in front of them.

No.

Instead, I ask you- when did we as theater people, performers and audience members become so concerned with our own experience that we lose compassion for others?

The theater to me has always been a way to examine/dissect the human experience and present it back to ourselves. Today, something very real was happening in the seats and, yes, it interrupted the fantasy that was supposed to be this matinee but ultimately theater is created to bring people together, not just for entertainment, but to enhance our lives when we walk out the door again. It so happened that during “the whipping scene”, a rather intense moment in the second act, a child was heard yelping in the audience. It sounded like terror. Not more than one week earlier, during the same scene, a young girl in the front row- seemingly not autistic screamed and cried loudly and no one said anything then. How is this any different?

His voice pierced the theater. The audience started to rally against the mother and her child to be removed. I heard murmurs of “why would you bring a child like that to the theater?”. This is wrong. Plainly wrong.

Because what you didn’t see was a mother desperately trying to do just that. But her son was not compliant. What they didn’t see was a mother desperately pleading with her child as he gripped the railing refusing- yelping more out of defiance. I could not look away. I wanted to scream and stop the show and say- “EVERYONE RELAX. SHE IS TRYING. CAN YOU NOT SEE THAT SHE IS TRYING???!!!!” I will gladly do the entire performance over again. Refund any ticket because-

For her to bring her child to the theater is brave. You don’t know what her life is like. Perhaps, they have great days where he can sit still and not make much noise because this is a rare occurrence. Perhaps she chooses to no longer live in fear, and refuses to compromise the experience of her child. Maybe she scouted the aisle seat for a very popular show in case such an episode would occur. She paid the same price to see the show as you did for her family. Her plan, as was yours, was to have an enjoyable afternoon at the theater and slowly her worst fears came true.

I leave you with this- Shows that have special performances for autistic audiences should be commended for their efforts to make theater inclusive for all audiences. I believe like Joseph Papp that theater is created for all people. I stand by that and also for once, I am in a show that is completely FAMILY FRIENDLY. The King and I on Broadway is just that- FAMILY FRIENDLY- and that means entire families- with disabilities or not. Not only for special performances but for all performances. A night at the theater is special on any night you get to go.

And no, I don’t care how much you spent on the tickets.

– See more at: http://playbill.com/news/article/king-and-i-actor-shares-the-cast-reaction-to-his-defense-of-audience-member-with-autism-364217#sthash.6MYItx86.dpuf

NYC Piano Bars – Part 2

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New York City actually has a long and rich history of piano bars, going back many decades.  With the city’s affiliations to both opera and Broadway, it’s no wonder that the singalong bars have flourished here.

Currently, there are a dozen or more piano bars, just in Manhattan, and they run the gamut in musical style, decor, demographics, and approach.

The holy trinity of NYC piano bars are Brandy’s (uptown), Don’t Tell Mama’s (midtown) and The Duplex (downtown).  All three are very similar in that they will feature pianists who sing and take requests all night. The staff are all singers (and have their black binders of music at the ready) who each perform a 3-song set throughout the night, showcasing their own formidable vocal chops.  Mixing comedy and music, these venues prove every night why they have stood the test of time and become favorites of locals and tourists alike.

Leaning more towards the showtune side of the street are Marie’s Crisis and The Monster, both nestled in the heart of Greenwich Village.  You won’t find much pop/rock music here, and the customers are purists for musical theater singalongs, often flawlessly recreating the lush harmonies of a Rodgers tune or the rhythmic intricacies of a Sondheim tongue twister.

Another piano bar that leans heavily on the standards is Mimi’s in midtown.  But this venue has a little something different – in the form of it’s pianist and resident personality, Chicken Delicious (yes, that’s his name).  Replete with costume changes before every song, and floor-to-ceiling lexans full of masks, boas, wigs and enough sequins to choke Liberace, an evening at Mimi’s is like none other.  Again, don’t expect much rock n roll here, but for flamboyant fun, there’s no piano bar like it.

Many of the midtown hotels have their own piano rooms, including the Carlysle, the Waldorf Astoria and others.  These posh venues drip with elegance, and the price tag proves it.  Don’t order a martini without your ATM card.

The new kid on the block is Sid Gold’s Request Room, in the midst of Chelsea.  The vibe is hip, the decor is mod, and the song list is edgier than any of their competitors.  The structure is primarily piano-karaoke, so the quality of your evening will be largely dependent on who else is in the room.

The most rock n roll for your buck can still be found in the dueling piano bars, and among those, Shake Rattle & Roll is still the industry leader for the best in NYC Dueling Pianos.