Dueling Piano Bars Again Tickling Ivories in South Florida

 

By PHILLIP VALYS, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

On a current Thursday at Mickey’s Downtown Bistro, two males in enterprise fits determined to place the “duel” in “dueling pianos.” They sipped wine and slapped $50 payments on the infant grand in a fierce bidding battle to listen to the higher traditional: “Edge of Seventeen” or “Landslide.”

Within a half-hour, $500 materialized in entrance of pianists Alissa Musto and Leon Novembre on the dim, stage-lit Lauderdale-by-the-Sea spot, their faces bathed in bouncing circles of greens and blues. Novembre turned to Musto, eyebrows raised, and quipped into the microphone, “Hey, why not play each?”

“People get a few drinks in them, you’d be amazed how choosy they get with the music,” she says. “It’s all in good enjoyable. This place is about up for crowd interplay.”

After a decade with out them, dueling piano bars are as soon as once more tickling the ivories in South Florida. Mickey’s Downtown Bistro — with dueling-piano reveals from Thursdays by way of Sundays — is the primary such bar in the tricounty space in practically a decade, filling a void left by bygone haunts similar to Howl on the Moon at Fort Lauderdale’s Beach Place and 88′s Dueling Pianos at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood. Mickey’s debuted April 28, with a grand-opening occasion scheduled for Fourth of July weekend.

 

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Not far behind, dueling-piano chain Howl on the Moon is about to stage a Fort Lauderdale comeback in summer time 2023. It will open downtown at 600 SE Second Court inside a to-be-constructed, 5,000-square-foot venue behind Big City Tavern on Las Olas Boulevard, says Bradd O’Brien, president of Howl on the Moon.

At Mickey’s, the Mediterranean-accented Italian steakhouse is the brainchild of chef-owner Mickey Josephs and his brother, Moti, two Israeli restaurateurs who ran the same dueling-piano eatery in Hamden, Conn., till the pandemic killed that 15-year-old enterprise.

“It received to be too costly there, what with the 25% occupancy and shutdowns,” explains Mickey Josephs, who scouted storefronts from St. Augustine to Sarasota earlier than touchdown in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. “But life went on in Florida, it was open. I spotted we have been in the improper state.”

The Pompano Beach resident and chef, who went to culinary college in Connecticut however discovered Mediterranean cooking from his mom, says he wished his delicacies to signify a greater class of dueling-piano bar. He additionally dropped about $200,000 for state-of-the-art sound tools, together with stage lighting and wall insulation.

Because dueling piano reveals get loud, soundproofing the bar from the remainder of the neighborhood —together with residential neighbors in the flats above Mickey’s — was key.

“There’s 6 inches of insulation above the ceilings,” he says of the room’s acoustics. “They haven’t complained to us but.”

The electrical energy of a dueling-piano present, in fact, is fueled by ideas and alcohol. Customers jot down first and second track selections on paper slips and go away them on the piano. If somebody ideas $5 for Elton John however a Neil Diamond fan slips $10 to the pianist, then “Piano Man” is out and “Sweet Caroline” is in. (That is, till it’s overridden by a $20 plea for Three Dog Night barnstormer “Joy to the World.”)

Dueling-piano reveals have developed in current years, says Brad Alexander, founding father of the Flying Ivories, a New York-based community of dueling pianists. (Mickey’s completely makes use of Flying Ivories musicians.) Shows have softened the bawdy intercourse jokes, onstage comedy bits and misogynistic humor that used to dominate the style, he says — an indication of rising sensitivity after the #MeToo period.

“Some of that bawdy humor doesn’t fly with right this moment’s audiences,” says Alexander, who started taking part in dueling-piano reveals in New York in 2001. “But relying on the night time, possibly you’ll get soiled lyric parodies of Disney songs. Our musicians not solely must memorize 1000’s of songs however know how you can work an viewers.”

When Howl on the Moon debuts subsequent yr in Fort Lauderdale, the format will likely be completely different from that of Mickey’s, O’Brien says. Howl on the Moon will take fewer track requests, he says, relying extra on a preprogrammed setlist backed by a full band: two pianists, a drummer, a bassist and two guitarists.

“Our idea now’s primarily based round all music from all a long time, from rap to hip-hop to metallic to the classics,” O’Brien says. “There’s no bits, no joking vulgar humor listing we did in the previous. Las Olas wants high quality nightlife power and we’re those to convey it.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials might not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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