Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Piano Bar Etiquette: What would you do?


J. Dan

Recommended Posts

OK, so I was in Phoenix for 4 days for a meeting. It was significant, we occupied a large portion of the resort and most of the conference rooms during that time. Of course, everyone hit the resort bar in the evening.

 

A lot of my co-workers across the country are aware I play music. We were in the bar and a guy was playing the baby grand and was very good - playing jazz and standards, suit, the whole thing you would expect of a piano bar. Goes on break, nowhere to be seen, everybody starts rallying to get me to play somehting. I'm like no, I shouldn't do that - that's not cool, you don't just jump in, etc. Well I was pretty intoxicated too, so they talked me into it. So I sit and just jump into some Journey - sure to be a crowd pleaser in this group. And before long we got the whole sing-along anthem going on with everybody cheering wildly. Soon the guy comes over and says I'm sorry I gotta ask you to stop. I immediately stooped and apologized profusely and said I know I shouldn't have done that, they were all just really pressuring me. He's like no it was great, it's just management doesn't like it, otherwise it's fine with me. I made sure I told him how much of a better player he is than me, I just catered to the crowd, etc.

 

So then later he's on break again. This time he's standing there, and people are asking me to play more. I look at him and he's like, go ahead. I'm like, you sure? He says yeah go ahead. So I did, and it wasn't long before he's like, OK they want me to ask you to stop, sorry. And I just felt like I probably shouldn't have done it. I hope I didn't put him in a difficult situation.

 

So the question: what would you do, and what is proper etiquette in those situations. I've never really done that before - I always thought it was inappropriate. But the entire bar was our folks, so I figured it was OK.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 58
  • Created
  • Last Reply

How much does the gig pay? :laugh:

 

Yeah, probably not the wisest decision, but if the bar was all your folks, then the management probably should have let it slide. Perhaps a little talk with the pianist and the management together would have been a wise idea - or even an out. You know, tell them that your coworkers are pressuring you but you know it's really not the way things are supposed to go, so if the management could play the heavies....

A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jumping on someone's stage, imo, is never cool. Especially if you have a feeling you're about to steal their thunder.

 

Your situation is a bit different, because all the patrons are "your" peeps, so you could have broken into chopsticks and they would have probably supported you.

 

PS Dan, it's good to see you still around :thu:. You used to be present in every thread when I first joined. Miss your insight. Don't be a stranger.

 

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, this is an uncomfortable position for all parties. Having played in a piano lounge for 16 years this happened to me many times. Fortunately the management had strict rules about sit ins and I would always refer would be pianists to a manager. This took the pressure off me and made the management the bad guys.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see it as OK. No matter who the clientele is. It is very lame. Good reason not to hang out with co-workers at happy hour. You end up looking bad. I see the upright actor as the working pianist who you dissed through all this. At least he stayed away from Journey.
"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It probably was ok, because you are good, but imagine the same situation with someone playing chopsticks and annoying other guests. I would support management's policy.

 

My compromise would be one song only.

Kurzweil PC3x, Nord Electro 3, Nord C-1, Casio Privia PX-3, Yamaha DX-7, Korg Polysix, Moog Taurus 3, Yamaha Motif XS (rack),Ventilator, QSC K12, K10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The management should have read the situation, seen that singalong=more drinks, and let it go for a bit. But they instead they just followed policy. In general, it's a prudent policy, and in general, it's bad etiquette to play piano on someone else's night.

 

My band played in Vegas a couple weeks ago. It was an early gig and, as we were staying old town, we ended up walking to a queer piano bar -- the kind where customers get to sing -- called Don't Tell Mama. Bunch of straight guys, we kind of stuck out the moment we walked in, and even more so when our singers started doing some tunes. Nevertheless, it was going fine and then the guys started urging me to take over the piano for a tune. Even after a few drinks, I had the good sense not to try it. Woulda been ugly.

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

Home: Vintage Vibe 64

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Let me guess: You played "Don't Stop Believing"?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=barLaHrtvoM&feature=player_embedded

 

OT: Please excuse the sidebar, but I just wanted to hear the song again. So I listened to journey sing it in the above link. Reminded me of how the piano has the first few seconds (about 50) and then, and then....here comes the guitar solo...and then....the piano part is never to be heard again. Is this common?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OT: Please excuse the sidebar, but I just wanted to hear the song again. So I listened to journey sing it in the above link. Reminded me of how the piano has the first few seconds (about 50) and then, and then....here comes the guitar solo...and then....the piano part is never to be heard again. Is this common?

 

Perhaps it's because, once the band kicks in, the right hand part on the piano is no longer played, and Jonathan is playing the (prominent) synth brass part?

 

Just a thought. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

yeah, I think the sentiment here is correct. And I normally never would have played. The only things that swayed me were that it was only people from our company in the bar, he was on break, and I didn't see him or any managment around anywhere - just the bartender.

 

After our initial discussion, I was pretty much flat out saying no during the next break. But when he said "no, go ahead"... it wasn't that I was asking and he said go ahead, I was saying no and he said go ahead. To me that was an invitation. But I guess I should have still said no.

 

So if you're in a joint and a piano player (maybe knows you or something) asks you to sit in, do you still say no?

 

And yes, "don't stop believing", followed by "faithfully" (by request)

 

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If he said go ahead, I would take him at his word. Whether you do so is up to you and the situation, but discretion is certainly the better part of valor. You are certainly not at fault if he insisted it was OK.

 

btw- your company sure picked a crappy time to be in Phoenix....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been the piano player in that situation.

 

It's usually singers who are being pressured into getting up by work colleagues.

 

IMO one guest number is always ok (two if it was very good - and appropriate for casual listeners not connected to the party).

 

If the place really was packed with your work colleagues - I'm with the poster who said more fun = more sales for the venue. I'd have let you stay on for half a dozen tunes (unless the general manager gave me the nod to get you to finish) - and made a big show of thanking you and getting a bit of cheering/applause going as you finished. Maybe that's what the piano player did on this occasion.

 

Those gigs are about pure entertainment - keeping the crowd amused and the atmosphere fun and relaxed.

I doubt anyone is worried about it other than yourself - and I bet your colleagues will have been delighted that you got up to play.

 

Hope you offered the guy a drink - I'm sure you did.

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't have gotten on the piano without asking someone in charge - the piano player, the management, somebody.

It seems he dealt with it in a good manner - no feelings hurt, etc. But the second time it was all on him; if he said it was OK then it's up to him to run interference with the manager.

If I were the hired piano player in that situation, and you were entertaining the crowd, I would have let you play to your heart's content (once I was sure that you weren't going to damage the equipment or cause a riot). Unless, of course, I was working for tips.

 

Last weekend we were playing a gig, packed house, late in the evening. Simple I-IV-V tune, and next thing I know some old dude with a harmonica jumps onto the stage and grabs my mic (which is on a boom over the keys) and proceeds to play the Worst Harmonica Solo Ever. The other band members looked at me like: "WTF?" and really all we could do at that point was laugh.

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So if you're in a joint and a piano player (maybe knows you or something) asks you to sit in, do you still say no?
In that situation, you'd normally sit in if you wanted, but it would also be perfectly acceptable to say no, an "I came here to hear YOU" kinda thing.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been in that exact same situation on both sides (as a patron being asked to play, and as a pianist responsing).

 

I would have asked the pianist first. No way I would have just sat down, no matter who's pressuring me. Had he said, no and laid it on the management, the two options would have been. 1. leave it alone (likely the best option) or 2. ask the person who is paying the tab (and there usually is one person at a company function whipping out the corporate AMEX) to have a polite word with the manager about making an exception.

 

With a bar full of your compatriots, it would be foolish for management to turn down that request, especially since you can play!

 

What is the head scratcher is why the pianist allowed you to come up a 2nd time, when management already shut you down the first time?

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A stealth approach, assuming that you really wanted to play, might be to first approach the piano player and the manager and say, "Look, I can keep these guys happily drinking here for a while. I play professionally, how about it?" I would question his/her managerial skills if he/she did not recognize the opportunity and rigidly adhered to "policy." After all, the folks in charge of your company may want to come back the following year, may recommend the hotel to others, etc.

 

Not at all a similar situation, but the "Journey" thing reminds me of when I attended a wedding reception at a hotel where there was this grand piano in the lobby, about 10-15 feet away from the open bar. When I went out to get a drink, there was this rather cocky, twenty-something, metrosexual, yuppie punk (my apologies to all cocky twenty-something metrosexual yuppie punks) playing the piano with several of his equally obnoxious friends standing around acting like he's the best thing since Yanni (trying to get in their frame of mind.....). He wasn't doing all that bad of a job, but not all that good of a job either, and definitely one of those whose opinion of his own playing (and undoubtedly other attributes) probably exceeded the realities of the situation. After I obtained my drink, I stood near the bar looking at this guy. Well, it must have been the sheepish look on my face, when one of the yuppie chicks from the group approaches me and asks, "Do you play?" and I say rather as-a-matter-of-factly, "yes." Then she asks, "Are you better than that guy?" and I similarly say, "yes." She then runs back over to the group and exclaims, "This guy can play! This guy can play!" So the young punk stands up and rather indignantly challenges me to play something. So I say, "What do you want to hear?" and he says, "Yeah right...." Then I say, "Seriously, what would you like to hear?" and predictably he says, "Journey." But before I start the Journey tune, I rip into a few admittedly hot-dogging blues licks, and the guy says, "Oh, well he plays jazz, he plays jazz!" (I can't play jazz.). The dude went away after I played for a little bit.....probably off to challenge his friends at doing watermelon shots.

 

 

P.S. Land anything at the bar?

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You knew you were in the wrong when you sat down the first time. But it's not like murder or mayhem, and both you and the player handled it well.

 

The second time, he said OK so it's his fault if it causes him problems. I would definitely take him at his word.

 

I think the management was nuts to interfere with a happy crowd. Best possibility there was it was a sub-manager without the authority to violate policy, or they were worried about damage from a non-union player, etc.

 

A few times, I've chatted with some performer during his break and been invited to take a short set. It always worked out well; the tips went into his jar (including a big one from me), and he got a longer break -- win/win situation as long as management and crowd are satisfied.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In a hotel, I consider any unlocked piano fair game. :D

 

Of course, I respect the situation/ambience and if anyone is sitting nearby I'd ask if they mind first.

 

If I'm politely asked not to play, I politely quit. That's happened, but it's rare and IIRC usually comes with "Unless you have a union card ...." I've never been impolitely asked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In a hotel, I consider any unlocked piano fair game. :D

 

......

 

That is the way I am in New Orleans. Something New Orleans generates lots of piano mojo.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm wary of trying it in any place that looks "corporate." Because most likely they have a policy against it and someone in charge for who will feel it isn't worth risking reprimand to break the rule. Again, it's a good policy, because although most on this forum would do a good job, we're not who the policy is intended to keep off the keys. A place that seems owner/operated is always a better bet. At least there, you can make you case and get a fair hearing.

 

Hypothetically, let's say you're the player and there's 40 people in the place and there's 15 in a group exhorting their colleage to play . . . let'em play! Even if they suck, you'll have 35% of the audience will be having a great time, and that alone is infectious for the room, and you can always pull them off after one song.

 

 

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

Home: Vintage Vibe 64

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then I say, "Seriously, what would you like to hear?" and predictably he says, "Journey." But before I start, I rip into a few admittedly hot-dogging blues licks, and the guy says, "Oh, well he plays jazz, he plays jazz!" (I can't play jazz.). The dude went away after I played for a little bit.....probably off to challenge his friends at doing watermelon shots.

P.S. Land anything at the bar?

 

That's great, gotta love it!

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...