Modern audiences have other distractions such as televisions, jukeboxes and the like, making the humble piano player something of a rarity across the world. It wasn’t always the case; from the East End of London to the bright lights of the United States, bars used to employ piano players to help keep people entertained. You’re unlikely to find someone playing Beethoven in these bars but instead will hear contemporary songs and traditional tunes. Even today, big stars such as Coldplay singer Chris Martin have been recorded playing the piano in a bar, caught on camera by People.com during a candid performance.
Another fine example is Billy Joel, who sang the timeless 1973 hit Piano Man. The song is based on his real-life experiences playing the piano in a bar in Los Angeles and features characters he encountered there. After falling out with his record company in New York, he moved to LA, took an assumed name and made a living playing at the now-defunct Executive Room bar in the Wilshire district.
Nowadays, some of the best piano bars in the US can be found in the gaming centre of Las Vegas. Vegas has had some famous piano residencies; Elton John’s The Million Dollar Piano is a fine example. Many people go the Vegas for the bright lights and poker games, but there is plenty to do once you have folded and walked away from the table. One thing Poker.org suggest you do in Vegas after playing poker is to take in a show, which doesn’t always mean a big show. You might be able to find something worth watching at the great piano bars that line the streets.
Who knows, one of these three locations might even have the next Billy Joel gathering experiences for a worldwide hit.
The Bar in Times Square at New York New York
A visit to the Times Square bar at New York, New York brings two US cities together in an unusual mish-mash. Outside, you’re in the Nevada desert, but inside it’s a dimly-lit Manhattan bar, with a piano raised on a pedestal to accentuate the sound.
You’re likely to hear popular music from across time here, from the 80s to pop classics, and the pianists encourage participation. That means song requests and lots of dancing. There’s a cover charge, but you can avoid that if you sit outside and close to a window.
The Piano Bar at Harrah’s
The Piano Bar at Harrah’s is right in the heart of The Strip but also tucked away from the foot traffic. They have a range of performers putting on shows, from the Saxman Duo to Big Elvis. Some of it is Las Vegas-themed, but other performers make you feel you could be anywhere in the world.
You can even have a go at karaoke here, so whilst the talent plays away, you can give the audience a glimpse of your talent (or lack thereof). It’s a fun piano bar that invokes images of East End sing-alongs as much as Billy Joel’s US experiences.
Big Bang at Dick’s Last Resort
Over on Fremont Street, Big Bang and Dick’s Last Resort is a piano bar for the rough and ready, the rowdy and raucous. Big Bang has several locations worldwide, so you might already know what you’re in for when you arrive, but it’s all about audience participation. There’s a piano duel; the pianists take live requests, and fun is at the top of the menu all night long.