Hearing a piano play is one of life’s most endearing pleasures. I always wanted to learn. In fact, I plan on taking lessons. In the meantime, I love to sing. Call me campy, but karaoke bars make my heart go pitter-patter. On Wednesday nights, my buddy Gino and I would go to gay karaoke in Chelsea.
I sang my heart out to the Spice Girls. It was always harder to sing karaoke than people gave it credit for. Eventually, I discovered a new exciting format of music, which blend piano and voice accompaniment. This classy musical establishment is known as the piano bar.
My friend Dylan introduced me to piano bars. He knew these cheeky gal pals from Staten Island who played at a piano bar in Hell’s Kitchen. Everyone would gather around the piano with alcoholic beverages and sang along to old classics. Different audience members would also take turns singing along with the piano. It was karaoke done old school style.
The piano bar had a nostalgic vibe, something I would imagine my grandparents frequenting in the 50’s. It had dim lighting; old leather booths and had an old familiar scent to it. Louis Armstrong would’ve loved it.
When I moved back to California, the piano bar was a mysterious notion. Sure, there were karaoke bars, but no place to sing with live piano accompaniment, until I traveled up north.
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities. Haight Ashbury and its dive bars, thrift stores and cheap eats delights my soul. The Castro is fun with its gay hangouts. I love Golden Gate Park, the rows of Victorian houses, getting a cardio vascular workout on Nob Hill and especially all the delicious food. Like New York, San Francisco is one of the country’s cultural hubs. One tradition alive and well in the city is the piano bar.
I took my buddy Nicole to Martuni’s in Soma. It’s an unassuming bar on the outside. Walk inside and the place is hoping. The martinis are enormous and inexpensive. When I saw the piano and singers, it made me nostalgic for my New York piano bar experiences. Nicole was equally delighted. She loved the concept of a piano bar and even belted out a tune (quite well may I add). I didn’t sing, but mingled quite a bit. One thing I love about San Francisco is how friendly and social the place is.
Excitedly, I found one of my favorite New York style bars in California. Unfortunately for me it was up north. However, it was fun sharing with Nicole one of my favorite pastimes, piano bars.
Karaoke and piano bars are places were folks overcome fear. They go up on stage in front of complete strangers and prove their talent. Thanks to the advent of whisky, wine, beer and vodka these establishments are here to stay.