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.
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.