The History of Dueling Pianos
The Dueling Pianos concept has been around for quite some time. From the early twentieth century in New Orleans, the idea of two pianists/singers pounding out crowd pleasing favorites and encouraging the entire room to sing along proved not only to be fun, but to be a very strong entertainment concept as well.
The entertainers knew just what popular songs to play, and were quick enough on their feet to take any request that came their way. Even in those early days, playing the most current and popular material was the key.
As the time passed, dueling pianos continued to rise in popularity even though the musical material being performed seemed to stay rooted in the popular music of the 30's and 40's. In the late 1980's, however, a new form of the dueling pianos concept emerged in Dallas, Texas. A group of talented, younger pianists/singers challenged the standard repertoire and began bringing in new material to include more of the top radio hits of the day including Rock n' Roll, Country and even Hip Hop.
The piano became a powerful rock n' roll instrument again. Sound and lighting systems were updated to match modern night clubs, and the entertainers became even more visual as showmen. These early innovators continued to push the envelope of sing-along entertainment while remaining true to the basic principle that every song must somehow involve the crowd. The entire bar staff became part of the show, performing dance routines on top of the pianos and bars, and encouraging the crowd to join in the fun.
New venues began opening rapidly throughout the 1990's as night club operators recruited some of these pioneers to open dueling piano bars across the country. This opened the door for many talented entertainers to have a chance to work steadily and incorporate their own unique skills into the show. Piano players began introducing other instruments - horns, guitars and drum kits to add to the show’s energy, but the concept still remained grounded in the fundamental idea of audience participation.
In the 2001, one of these early pioneers, Sam Leatherwood, together with partner Meredyth Muller, opened their own dueling piano bar - The Big Bang. Armed with a talented team of performers and managers, Sam and Meredyth have opened four extremely successful locations to date. The Big Bang continues to lead the industry in quality entertainment because of their ongoing commitment to continually bringing a fresh, innovative approach to this beloved, time-tested concept known as Dueling Pianos.