May 13, 1993 |
The piano bar is a stalwart breed. Since 1975, when the landmark Main Street pub opened in Laguna Beach, someone has sat at the 88s nightly, singing the same old songs while disco came, went and came again. And that's not because the clientele is totally unhip. Many of Main Street's patrons actually hit the bar for a nightcap after hours of partying at nearby nightclubs.
March 4, 1993 |
The spread of karaoke machines has almost wiped out the piano bar, as parades of amateur singers, glassy-eyed at technology, have traded in live musicians for recorded tracks. But at the Villa Nova restaurant in Newport Beach, the piano bar tradition lives on, seven days a week. A snow-white Yamaha, with 88 keys and no electrical cords, takes center stage.
February 2, 1992 |
Way back, before bell-bottoms, guitar solos and the Surgeon General's Warning, there were lounges. Usually located in restaurants that touted prime rib, these smoky, windowless rooms were equipped with cushiony Naugahyde booths, peroxide blondes and, oh yes, a piano bar you could sit around while an ivory-tickling crooner sang your troubles away. But time, alas, marched on. One by one, the piano bars fell, victims first to the disco ball, then to the sports-bar craze.
December 29, 1989 |
Mary Lou Leggett, a youthful-looking grandmother, started pursuing her goal of becoming a professional singer about six months ago. With a karaoke, a Japanese tape machine that supplies backup music for vocalists, Leggett practices favorite tunes at home. Then, two or three times a week, she makes the rounds of the local bars and restaurants that feature open sing-alongs.
December 28, 1989 |
It's been a bad day from dawn to dusk. The city repaved your street before sunrise and forgot to warn you, trapping your car in the driveway. You took an hour bus ride for the six-mile trip to work. The office coffee pot is busted, as is the photocopying machine and switchboard operator. Your boss's year-end review mentions that you might want "to explore other job options." Your live-in girlfriend calls to say she won't be home for the rest of the holidays but no, no, everything is fine!
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 26, 1988
A weekend argument between patrons of a South Gate piano bar and some members of a band that had performed there spilled over into a parking lot and left two men shot to death and a third man wounded, police said. The band-member suspect, still wearing a tuxedo, was flushed out of a hiding place by a police dog in a search of the building, Lt. George Troxcil said. The dead men's names have not been released, said Troxcil, who identified the suspect as Remiro Montes Torres, 33, of Long Beach.
December 1, 1987 |
One night three years ago, William Lon Wright was performing his usual mix of recent pop hits and older standards in a quiet piano bar in the Westwood district of Los Angeles. As he was getting ready to leave, a man walked up and suggested Wright's vocal and piano-playing style was better suited for interpreting show tunes from Broadway musicals, particularly those of the 1920s, '30s and '40s.
February 28, 1986 |
Bar talk: Are you meeting someone here? What sign are you? My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine . . . . See that woman near the piano? That used to be Frances Carson. "The Bar Off Melrose" is fun, even when it falters. The original idea was to find a format to bind together a series of sketches written by members of Oliver Hailey's playwrights' lab.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 15, 1985
Was it random chance that placed the story "Motorist, Wife of His Victim, Show 2 Sides of Sorrow" by Stephen Bloom (Aug. 10), about the woman agonizing over the death of her husband by an intoxicated driver, next to the photo of the piano bar entertainer toasting her loyal following, not just with a glass, but with a whole bottle. As someone whose home and office are within two blocks of The Fireside Inn--I have walked past it virtually daily the last 13 years on my way to the bank or other neighborhood businesses--I have seen literally hundreds of cars wheeling out of the parking lot onto Ventura Boulevard driven by tipsy bimbos and their new-found mates.