Molly Blooms will host keyboard concerts
Ryan Summerlin December 21, 2012
A few years ago, Park City pianists Rich Wyman and Michael Rogers performed a dueling piano show at the Egyptian Theatre.
The two would take requests and a little cash from the audience and play a song. If an audience member didn’t like what they were hearing, he or she could pay the piano men to stop and play another song.
While everyone had a fun time, it didn’t work out quite the way it was supposed to, Wyman said.
"You just can’t have people climbing over others in the rows as they try to approach the players," Wyman explained to The Park Record. "It’s the high energy interaction between the audience and the piano players that makes it work."
"You really need to have people come up to you regularly and put their requests on the piano and talk to you," said Rogers.
For the past year or so, the two have been performing a dueling piano concert at the Tavernacle in Salt Lake City, and starting tonight, Dec. 22, Wyman and Rogers will kick off a series at Molly Blooms Pub and Burger Bar at Kimball Junction.
The two will play tonight and next Saturday and then other pianists will perform throughout the winter.
Molly Blooms owner Gregg Davison decided to present a dueling pianos show soon after catching a show in Salt Lake.
"I was thoroughly impressed by the quality, the entertainment value and the interaction with the crowd," Davison said. "I knew I just needed to get that show in Molly Blooms."
Davison had worked with Wyman before and was eager to work with him again.
"We’ve done more than 300 live shows at Molly Blooms and Rich has been a part of that since the beginning," he said.
The dueling pianos format is like bidding on a song.
"There are request forms on every table and the audience will give us their requests and a little money," Wyman said. "The amount of money they give us determines how soon we’ll play their request. So, if some one gives us four dollars to play a song and then someone comes up with five dollars to play another song, we’ll play the five-dollar song first."
If an audience members don’t like what they’re hearing, they can stop the pianists by shouting, "How much!"
That’s when things get fun, Wyman said.
"The amount required to stop a song is one dollar more than the amount that was paid to hear the song," he said. "So, if someone paid five dollars to hear ‘Your Song’ by Elton John and you want to hear something else, you shout out ‘How Much’ and we’ll say, ‘Six,’ meaning six dollars. Then you can come up to the pianos, slam down the six dollars and tell us to shut up and play the song you want to hear."
"Things can go back and forth from there," Rogers said. "If someone wants us to continue ‘Your Song,’ then they just need to bring up seven dollars and so on."
"We have seen people drop a lot of money to hear their requests," Wyman said.
The joy of playing a dueling pianos concert is the spontaneity.
"It’s not a scripted show, but we do have a couple of songs in our back pockets to keep the show rolling or to interject some energy," Wyman said. "We also have laptops with us, so we can call up the chords of songs we’re not quite familiar with."
Setting Molly Blooms up to accommodate the two baby grand pianos was a bit of a headache, Davison said.
"The room, even though it’s a large space, was never designed around a large dueling piano layout, and now it is," he said. "The show is played in the round and it’s very impressive to have two pianos in place, and it works fantastically."
The show also requires lighting and a sound system.
"We’ll be able to work and develop the concept as we move through the series," Davison said. "We want to turn on the Park City community to this great new feature out at Kimball Junction."
The concerts will begin at 9 p.m.
"Molly Blooms, since it’s a restaurant and bar, is an all ages venue until 10 o’clock," Davison said. "At that time, we’ll have the families depart and allow the performers to play material that is suited for mature audiences."
"We have a bunch of songs designed for events like birthdays, bachelorette parties and things like that," Wyman said. "Some are appropriate for kids and some, well, aren’t."
Molly Blooms Pub and Burger Bar, 1680 W. Ute Blvd. at Kimball Junction will begin a dueling pianos concert series tonight, Saturday, Dec. 22, at 9 p.m., with Rich Wyman and Michael Rogers. The series will continue each Saturday. Reservations are suggested. To make reservations, call (435) 645-0844. For more information, visit www.mollybloomspc.com.