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.

Happy Birthday to You! (and it’s free!)

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A landmark decision by the U.S. District Court now releases one of the most played songs in modern history – HAPPY BIRTHDAY – into the public domain, and costing the previous copyright holder, Warner/Chappell Music a possible pay day of $2 Million Dollars per year.

The song was originally written by Mildred & Patty Hill, sisters, sometime prior to 1893.  Through various changes of hands, the copyright made its way to Warner, one of the largest music publishers in the industry.

Film makers who were, ironically, making a documentary about the Happy Birthday song, wound up being the plaintiffs in an action filed to avoid the license payment of $1,500 to Warner for the use of the song in their film.

The judge ruled that, since the copyright holders never acquired rights to the lyrics of the song, but rather just the music, the current copyright to the song is not valid.

So, go ahead.  Throw an epic birthday bash on the cheap.  Light the candles.  And sing your heart out.  Right until the party’s over.  That song you still have to pay for.

NYC Dueling Pianos shows

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While Dueling Pianos shows have been a national passion for almost a century, the Northeast USA has only caught on to the craze relatively recently.  With few notable exceptions (Jake Ivory’s in Boston and others) this region starting seeing Dueling Piano bars only about ten years ago.

There were some attempts in the Times Square area to create Dueling Pianos shows in the mid 2000’s, where street teams were used to lure tourists inside after their night at a Broadway show, much in the same way that comedy clubs operate, but there was no real marketing or organization, and the employees at these venues were often grossly underpaid and horribly mistreated, and so these spaces flickered out.

More recently, franchise chains have made in-roads into the major Northeast markets (Boston, Philadelphia, etc.) by creating warehouse-style shows that more resemble a party band performance than a traditional dueling pianos show.  This new style of venue squeezes hundreds of people into a hall, with most customers standing throughout the night due to limited space.  They actively discourage requests, and limit customer interaction with the performers.  Service is typically slower due to the volume of customers, and the individual attention to special celebrations often gets condensed into one group song for all the bachelorettes/birthdays at the show.

The only venue for NYC Dueling Pianos shows where EVERY customer gets a seat at a table, and EVERY request gets played EVERY night is still, and will always be, SHAKE RATTLE & ROLL.  Nestled in the heart of Tribeca, across the street from City Hall, and away from the tourist onslaught of Times Square, you can dine on a menu prepared by Beat Bobby Flay winner Kenneth Johnson, select from the wine list, or order a specialty cocktail, or drink one of the selection of domestic and imported beers.

A hit with bachelorettes and birthdays alike, you can find a healthy mix of locals and tourists, young and old, first-daters and forty-year anniversaries.  Every show is a celebration and YOU pick the soundtrack.

Check out the newly added table discounts, and come visit us, or visit us again!

We’re playing your song!

www.ShakeRattleRollPianos.com

 

Dueling Pianos schedule – Sept. 10-12

We’re all over the place this weekend – come join us!

frames

Thurs. 6pm – Frames NYC

Marisa's Ristorante

Marisa’s Ristorante, Trumbull CT

Fri. 8pm – Marisa’s, Trumbull CT

blarneys

9pm – Blarney’s Twisted Irish Pub, Mechanicsburg PA

Wolf's 1-11

9pm – Wolf’s 111, Albany NY

aroogas hershey

930pm – Arooga’s, Hershey PA

blarneys

Saturday 9pm – Blarney’s Twisted Irish Pub, Mechanicsburg PA

21south

930pm – 21 South Bar & Grill, Jackson NJ

aroogas camp hill

930pm – Arooga’s, Camp Hill PA

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10pm – THE CELLAR @ 22 WARREN ST. NYC