What if you were told that there was a show that could combine piano music, comedy, rock and roll, country music, and rap music? That’s what’s on the tap every Friday and Saturday when Jameson’s Irish Pub and Grill in Brighton hosts Dueling Pianos.
“The dueling pianos concept is an all request, sing along, clap along, drink along, rock ‘n’ roll comedy piano show that makes the audience the star of the show,” said Jason Scarcelli, owner of Dueling Pianos International. “Every song that is performed involves the audience in one way or another. In order to truly understand what the dueling pianos concept is, you have to experience it.”
Jameson’s owner Tony Kasab has hosted dueling pianos at his restaurants even before he owned Jameson’s. He used to own a piano bar in Royal Oak, but sold it in 2016. Jameson’s original location was 9555 Village Place Blvd., but it was not an ideal layout for dueling pianos because of the limited space. Once neighboring buildings on Grand River in downtown Brighton became available, he knocked down a wall to combine the spaces.
Dueling Pianos International’s Frankie Turner said audience involvement is key for the show, and he is always trying to get a read on the room.
“I’m always just thinking about what the crowd is doing, like how to get the crowd into it,” said Turner. “These guys just got their food, so don’t bug them, these guys are ready to go. I’m usually just thinking about how the audience is reacting in the moment. The songs are almost secondary.”
The traditional dueling piano format originated in the late 1890s and would involve two piano players literally dueling to see who could play better and faster. In 1933, the first modern piano bar opened in New Orleans. People would write song requests on cocktail napkins for the duo to play. Over the years, comedy and improv were blended into the performance, thus creating the dueling pianos concept we see today.
“When I first found out about the concept, it was a lot of fun.” said Rodney Fredericks, another one of Dueling Pianos International’s musicians. “We got to play a lot of songs that we already did in bands throughout the years and then we learned a whole bunch of stuff, because it’s all about the audience and we take requests.”
Scarcelli said he loves being a partner of Jameson’s and has a lot of high praise for the establishment.
“Dueling Pianos International has enjoyed working with Jameson’s more so than any other nightclub or bar we have ever worked with in the company’s 20-year history,” said Scarcelli. “Jameson’s has the absolute ultimate, perfect setup for the dueling pianos concept. They have the perfect clientele for the dueling pianos concept. The guests that come in there are all amazing people.
“Another one of the reasons why we like working at Jameson’s so much is that the entire staff; bartenders, waitresses, cooks, dishwashers, everybody; they’re all amazing people. And I’m not just saying that. We have worked with piano bars all over the country: Jameson’s is hands down the absolute best all the way around.”
For an updated schedule of the Dueling Pianos, visit jamesonsirishpub.net. For more information, visit duelingpianoshows.com.