Today marks the first day of the first annual International Piano Bar Convention, where piano bar entertainers and enthusiasts from around the world will "Come Together" and share knowledge, experiences, jokes – and of course – great music! And what better place to have the first Piano Bar Convention than New Orleans, where the founding concepts of Dueling Pianos originated over eight decades ago!
Literal dueling pianos can be verified as early as the late 1890s, when ragtime piano players would actually "duel" in an effort to see who could play better and faster. In 1933, when B.H. O'Brien and Charlie Cantrell opened Pat O'Brien's Bar in New Orleans, they included a room where two piano players would entertain the crowd on copper-topped baby grand pianos. Players would take turns singing songs requested by the audience, written on cocktail napkins.
In 1986, a piano bar called Dallas Alley (aka "Alley Cats") opened in Dallas, Texas as an attempt to copy the piano bar style of New Orleans. Players at this club started redefining the style of dueling pianos by playing more contemporary rock and roll music, coupled with humorous bits that involved lyric substitutions and audience participation. These "bits" would become commonplace at many dueling piano clubs over the years, as a staple of the industry. From there, many dueling piano clubs and chains opened, and there are currently well over 200 different clubs across the United States, and even more in other countries.
We are excited and grateful to be a part of furthering a new era of Piano Bar entertainment that is gaining popularity worldwide. Over the past decade alone, our entertainers have been fortunate to have countless opportunities to perform in piano bars, cruise ships, and all kinds of venues across the globe. With a brand new generation of talented entertainers joining a solid base of piano bar veterans, at Rock It Man Entertainment we are proud to be on the forefront of this modern phenomenon that we call Dueling Pianos.
Here's to many more decades (and hopefully centuries) of belting out the lyrics to "Piano Man", drinking to "Friends In Low Places", booty-shaking to the beat of "Baby Got Back", and of course... "not stopping believing!"