What is Dueling Pianos? Dueling Piano Bars in Orlando, Florida
The phrase “dueling pianos” conjures up different images for different generations: For those used to the Pat O. Brien’s and Little Ditty’s bars of the early 1990s, dueling pianos comprises the classics: ivory-pounding solos on “Great Balls of Fire,” raucous sing-along to Billy Joel’s ironic “Piano Man,” and even the occasional undergarment thrown onto (or taken off on) the stage from an inebriated bachelorette.
Those in more conservative circles might think of “dueling pianos” as an instrumental showdown like in the Scott Joplin movie or a battle similar to the “Dueling banjos” of Deliverance. And yet others who don’t hang out in classic “dueling piano bars” like Howl at the Moon or The Shout! House have no idea what “dueling pianos” is, like this so-called act on “Britain’s Got Talent.”
While there is no official definition of “dueling pianos,” there is a wikipedia page (as well as a bunch of competing private traveling dueling piano companies) that agree on a general concept that was made popular in the early 1990s, beginning with an entertainment establishment called “Alleycats” in Dallas, used as the prototype for others like it, including the largely successful “Howl at the Moon” bar/restaurant chain.
Dueling pianos is a scenario in which two grand or baby grand pianos (don’t let your ears be fooled – only one dueling piano club in the country is known to use real pianos – the industry standard is a digital keyboard inside a piano shell) are setup across from each other, with 2 piano players. The players take song requests from the audience, and in one variation or another, “include” the audience members in the musical show, through singing, clapping, and dancing along with the songs.
Variations include “traditional” dueling pianos, where players use nothing but the pianos and microphones to create their musical sound, including sound effects, solos and beatboxing. Other “modern” interpretations of the concept include a full band setup, where at different times of the hour and evening, the piano players will be joined by musicians at a guitar, bass, drums, and sometimes even more — fiddle, keytar and trumpet. Some dueling piano shows actually include sample tracks (for example, in rap songs) or bona-fide songs, just as a DJ would have, to supplement dynamics of their show.
In Orlando, throughout the 1990s there were variations of dueling piano bars boasting great shows: Blazing Pianos, Howl at the Moon (formerly on Church Street), and the more recent Baby Grands Dueling Piano bar. Today, the three venues highlighting dueling pianos daily are Jellyolls (on Disney’s Boardwalk at Epcot), Pat O’ Brien’s (at Universal Citywalk) and Howl at the Moon (on International Drive).
With the wide pool of talented musicians that call Orlando home, dueling piano shows have sprouted up across Central Florida, away from the tourist attractions and closer to communities like yours. This winter, dueling piano fans will be able to enjoy along the Space Coast, with two quite differing venues: The Twisted Birch Bar and Grill sits alongside Turtle Creek Golf club in Rockledge, while in the back of a Publix shopping center in Palm Bay, you’ll find a quaint mom and pop restaurant with a good old fashioned party room. Both locations will feature Florida’s hot you dueling piano couple, Amy and Randy Keith.
Amy and Randy recently celebrated their third anniversary and fourth year of performing together as dueling piano players. Randy began his dueling piano career in 2001 while working as a radio traffic reporter in Los Angeles, and Amy left her native Wisconsin to teach middle school music. The couple met at Glendale, Arizona’s “Shout House” in 2012 and the rest is history. Following several contracts on Norwegian Cruise Line, the couple moved to Orlando, Florida.
When not playing at bars and restaurants in Central Florida, Amy and Randy perform at corporate events, weddings and private parties throughout Orlando and the entire Southeast. You can see their videos and find out more about how to bring them to your event at their website: www.PremierPianoShows.com.
This month Amy and Randy perform:
In Orlando – Breezes Bar at Orange Tree Resort – 7-11pm every Wednesday.
In Palm Bay – Jack Straws Club – 8:30-11:30pm, Friday, February 16th.
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