Paranormal Talk Show on WGSO 990AM Did A Live Broadcast from Spirits, Then This Happened…

WGSO's Mark and David Laville did a live broadcast of Paranormal Talk in the Spirits on Bourbon Courtyard on Saturday.

WGSO’s Mark and David Laville did a live broadcast of Paranormal Talk in the Spirits on Bourbon Courtyard on Saturday.

The Paranormal Talk Show on WGSO 990AM in New Orleans, with hosts David and Mark Laville, conducted a live broadcast from the courtyard at Spirits on Bourbon Saturday night.

The show was just business as usual, then something weird happened in the kitchen:

This was captured on the kitchen’s surveillance camera as the Laville’s were broadcasting their show. At 10 seconds into the video, you can see the bottle of Sprite fly off the counter just as Ryan leaves the kitchen. Weird, huh? Is it a real ghost? You tell us!

Get to know what’s happening at Spirits on Bourbon by following us on Facebook and Twitter @SpiritsonBourbo

Do It For the Cause: Help Raise Money for the NOLA Barman’s Fund May 18 with Spirits Bartender Aja Reign

Aja Reign

Aja Reign

Not all bartenders are undeserving arrogant snobs who do nothing but pour liquid into a cup. Some see the big picture and want to make a difference in the world, such as newly-minted Spirits on Bourbon bar manager Aja Reign, who will be donating all of her tips to the New Orleans Barman’s Fund on May 18.

The Barman’s Fund is group of bartenders, barbacks, servers and other food service industry professionals who raise money for good causes, selecting one night each month to donate 100 percent of their tips to local charities.

See Also: Spirits Owners Help Raise Over $5,000 For Breast Cancer Awareness at Reality Rally

Bartender Brian Floyd founded the Barman’s Fund in 2011 while bartending at the Vanderbilt in Brooklyn, beginning as a simple “tip jar fund”. Since then, chapters have sprung up in four more cities around the United States, including Austin, New Orleans, Charlotte and Palm Beach.

The way it works is pretty simple. Any bartender, or service industry worker (usually one who earns tips) can join a chapter in the selected cities. Then the chapter selects one shift out of each month where they donate all of their tips to local charities.

“They don’t just throw money at the problem,” said Aja, who came to New Orleans from Los Angeles. “They try to be as tangible as possible. The city is still rebuilding itself. I would feel selfish not helping.”

Some local charities include Habitat For Humanity, or local food banks. Sometimes, according to Aja, members of the chapter will pool circumvent the charities and buy materials for people who need them the most, such as school supplies for children.

David Naser aka “Catfish”, director of the New Orleans chapter and bartender at Jimani on Iberville and Chartres streets in the French Quarter, says the Barman’s Fund is a simple and streamlined method for bartenders to donate their tips to charity.

“We work night to night, shift to shift. We don’t get a paycheck,” Naser said.

To date, The Barman’s Fund has donated $184,725.48, according to its Facebook page.

Also happening on May 18, the rubberduck derby and race, where the Nola chapter of the Barman’s Fund will be launching a mass of rubber ducks into Bayou St. John. Their goal is sell 250 ducks by Sunday (the 18th). The winners of the derby win cash and other prizes.

For more information about The Barman’s Fund and rubberduck derby, contact David P. Naser at 504-982-3788 or email him at thebarmansfundnola@gmail.com or on Twitter @Barmancatfish.

Get to know what’s happening at Spirits on Bourbon by following us on Facebook and Twitter @SpiritsonBourbo

Spirits Owners Help Raise Over $5,000 For Breast Cancer Awareness at Reality Rally – See more at: http://spiritsonbourbon.com/blog/?p=308#sthash.HHawFhbx.dpuf

Q&A with Country Music Artist William Michael Morgan

William Michael Morgan

William Michael Morgan

William Michael Morgan is an up-and-coming country music singer based in Nashville. Originally from Vicksburg, Mississippi, Morgan grew up listening to and emulating the styles of traditional artists such as Keith Whitley and Merle Haggard at a very early age. Now at age 20, Morgan is signed to Warner Brothers in Nashville and has begun working on his first album. Expect a single to be released in the coming months.

Shane Fortner and Brad Bohannan, owners of Tavern on Vets (our sister bar in Kenner) recently invited Morgan to come play at the bar last Wednesday night. After the performance, we sat down for a little interview

See Also: Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Sam Joyner

When did you start becoming interested in music?
I guess the first song I remember hearing, I was about five or six years old, was an old Marty Robbins song. I just fell in love right then. I got my first guitar at about eight, nine years old and I just started playing from there.

Did you teach yourself?
I did. I looked up a lot of YouTube. After school I wouldn’t do anything. I didn’t play football or anything. I would just come home and lock myself in my room and just play old Keith Whitley and Mark Chestnut songs, look them up and just taught myself that way.

Why country music?
The realness of it, the realness of the real tradition of country music, the sadness, the feelings that’s put into the lyrics and the melodies.

When did you start to think that you could make a career playing country music?
I started off doing anything I could do, from karaoke contests to opening up for someone at a bar. I’ve just always wanted to. I’ve always felt that need, that drive to do it.

When did you first start performing?
I did my first show when I was about 12.

Who or what has influenced your playing style?
Merle Haggard, Keith Whitley, Mark Chestnut, all of the real traditional artists; Singletary, the list can just go on and on.

How would you describe your particular brand of country music?
I would describe it as traditional definitely, but we always try to find a happy medium with what’s going on today and what the radio’s wanting and needing and what everyone else is wanting to hear. We try to keep our roots as much as we can, but try to blend in some of today’s music into our stuff.

How did Mississippi shape your vision of country music?
It was about eight years ago when Dierks Bentley was playing and he came down to Vicksburg and played the Riverfest down there. Me and my family went and that really opened my eyes up to what I wanted to do. That was an eye-opener seeing him play and feed off the energy of the people.

How do you draw inspiration for your songs?
Real life instances in my life. Writing everyday, you can kind of run out of ideas. I’ve been really hammering it up there in Nashville. We’ve just been writing every day, trying to get ready for this record. But you just watch the news and seeing what’s going on today, listen to the radio, listen to talk channels and you’ll get ideas.

Are you based in Nashville now?
Yeah. I was born in Vicksburg and stayed there my whole life until I was about 19, then I moved to Nashville last year in February. I turned 20 in May and I’ll be 21 on May 13 of this year.

Who and when did people start noticing your singing voice?
I met a songwriter by the name of Roger Springer when I was about 13 or 14, and we talked back and forth. When I was about 14 or 15, he invited me to come write with him a few times. I would come stay with him and his wife and he’d take me in and introduce me to a bunch of people. Through him I met another songwriter, and through that songwriter I met my managers.

How do you develop your voice?
As with any genre of music you just grow up listening to it and you find what you like to listen to and try to incorporate that into what you create.

Is there a song of yours that holds a special meaning for you? Why?
There is a song I wrote with two of my very good buddies in Nashville, Trent Tomlinson and Ashe Underwood, and it’s called “Neon Sign”. It’s just real traditional country. It’s one of my favorite songs. It’s real in that solid gold country pocket. It’s about this guy at a bar, his girlfriend left him and he’s just begging God, “I don’t know what I can do, can you send me a neon sign?”

Do established performers try to steer you in any particular direction? What advice do they offer you?
Nashville is a really small town, and if you know someone, you know everyone else. And of course everyone has their input, which is great because I love to hear everyone’s input. We take very seriously what people say and we try to incorporate that into the mix, but still keep what we do as traditional as possible.

What is traditional country music?
When I say traditional I don’t mean 60s or 70s, I mean more of when I grew up in the 90s, the Chestnut era and stuff like that. To me, that’s my favorite era of country music, the late 80s to mid-90s.

Who in the industry do you look up to for direction and advice?
I got a lot of great advice from Mark Chestnut. We’ve got the same producer. He was doing some vocals one night over at our producer’s house and my producer, Jimmy Ritchey, and Mark took me under his wing and told me the do’s and don’ts, what to say, what not to say, just stuff like that. I think that really helped.

Are you currently signed to a label?
Yes, I am signed to Warner Brothers.

Are you currently working on an album?
I am working on it right now. We should have five things done in a month or two and hopefully have a single out as soon as we can pick it. We don’t have a release date for the album yet, hopefully sometime next year, but that time could always change.

Get to know what’s happening at Tavern on Vets by following us on Facebook and following our sister bar on Twitter @Spiritsonbourbo

Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Sam Joyner

Sam Joyner

Sam Joyner

It’s time for Jazz Fest, but that isn’t the only place where you can find great live music. We have talented dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon on a nightly basis. Throughout the week we will be featuring our dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon in a multi-part series on our blog.

Sam is originally from the Chicago area but has traveled the United States and the world extensively during his music career. He returned to the states five years ago after having traveled throughout North- and Southeast Asia for the past 25 years where he was primarily based on the island of Saipan, where the average temperature during this time was no less than 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

When Sam made the decision to come back to the states, two factors influenced his decision to come to New Orleans: the warm subtropical climate and the music.

See Also: Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Amanda Walker

“When I returned to the states I knew I couldn’t go back to Chicago or any place that resembled cold,” Sam said. “I was thinking about going to Memphis, but even Memphis was too cold after being in 86 degrees every day. New Orleans was the logical choice because I could play music.”

Sam has been playing piano for about 46 years professionally. His playing style spans several genres. He cites a wide range of musical influences, but cites a particular set of musicians within certain genres. He cites Ray Charles, Bob Marley, Ramsey Lewis, Stevie Wonder. Within reggae, there is Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley; for jazz there is Sonny Stitt, Jimmy Smith, Ramsey Lewis; in rock and roll there is ZZ Top; in pop music there is Stevie Wonder.

When describing his style, Sam gives it a mixture of “the North and the South”, blending Chicago, Memphis and New Orleans styles of music.

This is not his first dueling piano gig. Like with most dueling piano players at Spirits on Bourbon, Sam came from he now-defunct Bourbon Street club Howl at the Moon. Sam was invited by fellow dueling piano player TJ Zino to come to Spirits. When his contract at Bourbon Oh! expired, he came to Spirits. He will have played one year at Spirits in July.

The dueling pianos run every Monday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Get to know what’s happening at Spirits on Bourbon by following us on Facebook and Twitter @SpiritsonBourbo

Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Amanda Walker

Amanda Walker

Amanda Walker

It’s time for Jazz Fest, but that isn’t the only place where you can find great live music. We have talented dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon on a nightly basis. Throughout the week we will be featuring our dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon in a multi-part series on our blog.

Now it’s time to introduce a true gem to our dueling piano line-up. Amanda Walker is one of our dueling piano players, but you’d never guess that she also holds a degree from Tulane Law School.

Originally from Missouri, Amanda came down to New Orleans after receiving an acceptance to Tulane Law, graduating in 2006. Amanda still practices law, but only on the side here and there for some friends. However, piano is her real passion.

See Also: Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Amanda Walker

Amanda became a part of the Spirits dueling piano line-up after fellow Spirits player John Autin, who runs New Orleans Piano Maniacs, called her one afternoon and asked her to join. She enthusiastically agreed, but plays only one day out of the week: Saturdays from 4 to 9 p.m. However, if you look around town, you will find her performing at other venues, such as the Old Point Bar in Algiers.

Despite having over 30 years of piano experience under her belt, this is Amanda’s first dueling piano gig. She is, however, no stranger to performing on stage.

“That’s why I took the gig, because it seemed like something fun to try,” she said “It’s been really fun to go up there and play whatever people request. It’s quite an eclectic mix. That’s what makes it fun.”

Being an all-request dueling piano show on Bourbon Street, Amanda will play anything from Toby Keith to Eminem to Lynyrd Skynyrd on any given night. Being so versatile is makes Amanda, and all of our dueling piano players at Spirits, so talented and why we have them on stage.

If you’re all Jazz Fested-out and just happen to be hanging out on Bourbon Street on Saturday afternoon, drop by Spirits on Bourbon, say hello to Amanda and buy her a drink!

The dueling pianos run every Monday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. – See more at: http://spiritsonbourbon.com/blog/?p=465#sthash.lXevzJXF.dpuf

The dueling pianos run every Monday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Get to know what’s happening at Spirits on Bourbon by following us on Facebook and Twitter @SpiritsonBourbo

Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: TJ Zino

TJ Zino

TJ Zino

It’s time for Jazz Fest, but that isn’t the only place where you can find great live music. We have talented dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon on a nightly basis. Throughout the week we will be featuring our dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon in a multi-part series on our blog.

TJ Zino is originally from Rockville Centre in Long Island, New York. He began piano lessons at the age of five years old, training in classical piano but quickly became bored with his instructor.

“Who wants to play I’m a little teapot?” he said. “I wanted to play something like the Top Gun theme song or something like that or the Rocky theme song, which was big when I was little.”

See Also: Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Steve Monroe

Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Steve Monroe – See more at: http://spiritsonbourbon.com/blog/?p=447#sthash.byPjWOg1.dpuf
Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Steve Monroe – See more at: http://spiritsonbourbon.com/blog/?p=447#sthash.byPjWOg1.dpuf
Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Steve Monroe – See more at: http://spiritsonbourbon.com/blog/?p=447#sthash.byPjWOg1.dpuf

After a no less than a six-month hiatus, TJ restarted his piano training, but taking lessons from sheet music he would acquire over the years. Fast-forward 30 years and he has traveled everywhere, performing gigs all over the country. He played at a casino in Las Vegas, played in Connecticut and even held a dual position of bartender and dueling piano player on the now-defunct Big Easy River Boat Casino, which was docked in the Port of Palm Beach at the time.

Like man of the dueling piano players at Spirits on Bourbon, TJ formerly performed at Howl at the Moon on Bourbon Street, which has since closed. He was searching for a new home when him and fellow dueling piano player John Autin stumbled into Spirits shortly after the filming of Bar Rescue and convinced owners Brad Bohannan and Steve Smith to have a live piano show.

“Spirits took us in when we were looking for a home,” TJ said.

There is a lot more work to becoming a dueling piano player than meets the eye. Describing it as a “negative curve”, TJ says that dueling piano players must know hundreds of songs. “You wake up in the morning and you’re learning tunes until you collapse,” he says.

Most importantly, they need to know the “A-tunes” or hit songs that get the most reaction out of people. They are songs that they must know word-for-word because nearly everyone in the audience knows them like that too.

In addition to performing at Spirits, TJ is also part of the dueling piano phenomenon New Orleans Piano Maniacs along with fellow Spirits performers John Autin and Steve Monroe.

TJ is a pretty upbeat guy and there isn’t a moment when you won’t catch him smiling. His method of working a crowd is to play to the guy who looks like he’s having the worst time in the room. “If I can get him to have a good time, then everybody else follows.”

The dueling pianos run every Monday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Get to know what’s happening at Spirits on Bourbon by following us on Facebook and Twitter @SpiritsonBourbo

Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Steve Monroe

Steve Monroe

Steve Monroe

It’s time for Jazz Fest, but that isn’t the only place where you can find great live music. We have talented dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon on a nightly basis. Throughout the week we will be featuring our dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon in a multi-part series on our blog.

“I haven’t always been that serious about piano but I never quit,” said Steve Monroe, one of Spirits on Bourbon‘s dueling piano players.

With over 47 years of piano playing experience, it’s hard to actually believe that Steve doesn’t take his craft seriously, but maybe he’s just being modest. Nearly half a century of experience is nothing to shake at stick at. But, he adds, it gets to be more fun because he gets better at it. He was, after all, a piano and voice major while studying music in graduate school at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

See Also: Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Todd Adams

Steve originally hails from Columbia, Missouri, moving away when he was 25 years old. Like all of the dueling piano players at Spirits (and all talented musicians), he has his fair share of performing and traveling experience. To date, Steve has been performing at Spirits for about one year.

Steve duels with nine other piano players at Spirits. His taste in music is expansive, from jazz to classical to opera and even rock and roll. It helps to know music like Steven knows music, since it enables to him play almost any request you like, from Fats Domino to Miley Cyrus. Hell, this guy can even put a Snoop Dogg tune to ivory. Playing on Bourbon Street is good because the shifting crowd keeps Steve on his feet with a constantly changing line-up of requests.

Steve is not one to just sit back and play songs. Part of his job as a dueling piano player (as with other dueling piano players at Spirits) is to interact with the crowd, challenge them, maybe sling a few ad hominems and to just get the audience to sing along. The purpose is to just get people to have fun. “We’ll call people out and talk to the audience, tell them a dirty joke just to get some sort of response and try to play songs that they know so they can sing along,” he says.

He will usually start off with something like “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” or “Brown Eyed Girl”, something that everybody knows so they can sing along to the chorus.

Besides playing piano, Steve knows a thing or two on the guitar and bass.

The dueling pianos began at Spirits about a year and a half ago, shortly after appearing on Spike TV’s Bar Rescue. So far it has been a huge success. Don’t knock the music just because they play only covers, all of the piano players are solid musicians.

“We have some of the most talented players in the business,” said Spirits owner Steve Smith. “In a city with many great musicians as New Orleans, our guys often get overlooked because of the nature of the cover song show that we do. They are true professionals at their craft and play to a packed Bourbon Street house every night.”

The dueling pianos run every Monday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Get to know what’s happening at Spirits on Bourbon by following us on Facebook and Twitter @SpiritsonBourbo

Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Todd Adams

Todd Adams

Todd Adams

It’s time for Jazz Fest, but that isn’t the only place where you can find great live music. We have talented dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon on a nightly basis. Throughout the week we will be featuring our dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon in a multi-part series on our blog.

The weekend may be finished, but we are are still in throes of Jazz Fest. While there is still live music happening all over the city, we have dueling pianos–our own brand of musicianship here at Spirits on Bourbon and some great talent to go along with it. In this blog, we feature Houma-based piano player Todd Adams.

As previously mentioned, Todd is originally from Houma, Louisiana, about a little over an hour’s drive southwest of New Orleans. Todd was immediately attracted to a career in music at a very young age but he never envisioned being a piano player. He grew up playing the drums, learning in the fifth grade. At 15 he began playing in a rock and roll band.

See Also: Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Jim Lockwood

Eventually playing piano became a part of Todd’s repertoire. He has been playing piano for over 30 years. Before playing at Spirits, he spent nearly a decade performing at a club in Houma. He has toured with several bands during his career, even playing with Cajun Zydeco musician and Grammy winner Wayne Toups, who also happens to be performing at this year’s Jazz Fest.

Aside from performing at various clubs on Bourbon Street, Todd has toured all over the United States (35 out of 50 states), as well as toured all over Europe and in New Zealand. It was while he was on tour that Todd met his wife.

Todd met Spirits owners Steve Smith and Brad Bohannan through John Autin (who also performs at Spirits) and immediately signed up for dueling pianos. It just so happened that he was contacted by a fellow musician friend almost immediately after watching the Spirits episode of Bar Rescue. Todd has been performing at Spirits since March. He plays on Sundays and Tuesdays beginning at 8 p.m.

The players take requests from the audience for tips. The way this works is pretty simple: the higher the tip, the more likely the song will be played. And tips can trump each other too. For instance, a $10 tip trumps a, lets say, $3 or $5 tip. Usually, each player will finish a song before playing the next, but if an audience member throws down a $20 for a song, more than likely the players will stop in the middle of the current song and play that request immediately.

At Spirits, we have dueling piano players perform two at a time on stage. They don’t exactly duel, but play together. One sings and plays while the other provides backing music and they take turns. They also take requests from the audience. Todd breaks down how the request system works at Spirits:

“We have pads and pens in the audience and anything you want to hear just write it down and send it up to us, hopefully with a little love. The five- and ten-dollar songs always get played before the one-dollar songs and the one-dollar songs get played before the zero-dollar songs. So when we get to them, we play everybody’s request. But the financial hierarchy dictates what we play.”

And as far as $20 songs and above? They get played immediately.

Come see our dueling piano players at Spirits. It’s a highly interactive show and we promise that you will not be disappointed.

The dueling pianos run every Monday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Get to know what’s happening at Spirits on Bourbon by following us on Facebook and Twitter @SpiritsonBourbo

 

Featured Spirits on Bourbon Dueling Piano Player: Jim Lockwood

Jim Lockwood

Jim Lockwood

It’s time for Jazz Fest, but that isn’t the only place where you can find great live music. We have talented dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon on a nightly basis. Throughout the week we will be featuring our dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon in a multi-part series on our blog.

The players take requests from the audience for tips. The way this works is pretty simple: the higher the tip, the more likely the song will be played. And tips can trump each other too. For instance, a $10 tip trumps a, lets say, $3 or $5 tip. Usually, each player will finish a song before playing the next, but if an audience member throws down a $20 for a song, more than likely the players will stop in the middle of the current song and play that request immediately.

When a guest would like to hear a song, they must write down the request on a piece of paper provided to them and place it on the piano.

See Also: Going to Jazz Fest? Check Out Our Dueling Piano Player Josh Sharrard

Jim Lockwood is a New Orleans original, although he has spent some time in Tennessee before eventually moving back home. Jim began his music career as a singer and guitar player, touring up and down clubs along Bourbon Street.

His guitar career came to a tragic end one day when his pick finger became pinned between a wall and a piece of heavy equipment he was helping to move at his side job at a moving company. The weight smashed his finger, causing a fracture down the bottom length of his index finger. The healing process left him with such a limited range of movement that he could no longer play guitar.

Piano became Jim’s bread and butter and now has over 30 years of experience under his belt. He began performing at Spirits a little over a year ago. Jim is no stranger to performing on Bourbon Street. With his experience playing on Bourbon Street over the last several decades, he can say with authority that Spirits is one of the best–if not the best–place at which he performs.

“The owners at Spirits set the example of how Bourbon Street clubs should treat their musicians,” he said.

According to Jim, the function of the dueling pianos is two-fold: to provide entertainment for the guests and play for tips.

So if you just happen to need a music fix even after Jazz Fest is over, swing by Spirits on Bourbon and show our piano players some love. They begin performing on stage at 8 p.m.

The dueling pianos run every Monday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Get to know what’s happening at Spirits on Bourbon by following us on Facebook and Twitter @SpiritsonBourbo

Going to Jazz Fest? Check Out Our Dueling Piano Player Josh Sharrard

Josh Sharrard

Josh Sharrard

It’s time for Jazz Fest, but that isn’t the only place where you can find great live music. We have talented dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon on a nightly basis. Throughout the week we will be featuring our dueling piano players who perform at Spirits on Bourbon in a multi-part series on our blog.

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is here once more and while fans are flocking to the stages of the festival grounds, we have our own dueling piano players at Spirits on Bourbon who put on a pretty damn good show.

There are only two locations on Bourbon Street that have dueling pianos, but ours you can see directly from the street.

The way dueling pianos works, at least at our bar, is that we have two players on stage. They do not actually duel each other, but one provides backing notes while the other one plays and sings, and they take turns.

The players take requests from the audience for tips. The way this works is pretty simple: the higher the tip, the more likely the song will be played. And tips can trump each other too. For instance, a $10 tip trumps a, lets say, $3 or $5 tip. Usually, each player will finish a song before playing the next, but if an audience member throws down a $20 for a song, more than likely the players will stop in the middle of the current song and play that request immediately.

When a guest would like to hear a song, they must write down the request on a piece of paper provided to them and place it on the piano.

Throughout the week during Jazz Fest we will be showcasing our piano players. And because there are two players at a time on stage, we will feature two at a time on the blog. We have ten players in all. Now for the introductions.

Josh Sharrard originally hails from Bay City, Michigan. He has been playing piano at Spirits for a little over a year. Before that, he played piano at Howl at the Moon, a former dueling piano bar in the 100 block of Bourbon Street which has since closed. Before New Orleans, he performed at Howl at the Moon’s Chicago location.

Josh began taking piano lessons at the age of eight, taking at least once lesson per week. He doesn’t just know piano, but plays bass and guitar and some brass instruments (once you learn how to read and play music, you can pretty much play any instrument), but he prefers to stick with piano because that’s what he does best.

Performing at Spirits is a blessing for Josh. He studied piano at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida before dropping out and living in his car for awhile. While performing at Howl at the Moon, some friends introduced him to Spirits owners Steve Smith and Brad Bohannan.

There was a bit of a learning curve when beginning his stint in dueling pianos because of the sheer amount of songs he must know. Most requests he receives from people are radio hits, but some are not. Josh prefers to play classic rock hits. If you request a song he does not know, Josh will do his best to learn and play.

Some of the more unorthodox requests he receives are songs originally performed by heavy metal bands such as Slipknot.

“And Metallica,” he says, “people request a lot of Metallica.”

The dueling pianos run every Monday from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Get to know what’s happening at Spirits on Bourbon by following us on Facebook and Twitter @SpiritsonBourbo