Saturday, March 7, 2009

"PLAYER PIANO PLAYER"

Back in the early '80's I was involved with the Captain's Clambake Emporium Restaurant as Director of Group Sales. This restaurant featured the traditional New England Clambake and primarily catered to senior citizen motor coach groups that would join us for a day trip lunch time clambake or as part of their Cape Cod/New England multi-night tour.

For entertainment we had a player piano with piano rolls of various songs which magically played by themselves once the piano roll was loaded into the piano. I had seen a restaurant in Kentucky that handed out songbooks of old time songs to their guests while attending a national tour convention; we decided to incorporate this idea at the Captain's Clambake Emporium.

So, I became the "player piano player" and would change the piano rolls after each song while the guests were ordering cocktails and waiting for the clambake meal. We had all the old time greats such as "Heart of My Heart, When the Red,Red Robbin Goes Bob,Bob, Bobbin' Along, and Let Me Call You Sweetheart." Some of these groups would really get into singing the songs and enjoyed the songbooks.

We also had some longer medley piano rolls such as a Bing Crosby Medley including "White Christmas' where on certain nights I would take the microphone near the player piano and do my best Bing Crosby singing impression. Other piano rolls included a "Fiddler on the Roof"medley and Scott Joplin's "The Sting" song.

I spent many hours over the course of working as the "player piano player". The music was quite loud as I would wait for the current song to end. They say that loud music over time may lead to hearing loss. Many people who listen to loud rock and roll music may be subject to hearing loss in later years. I enjoy listening to loud rock music myself. However, if later in life my hearing starts to fade; I'll wonder how much being a "player piano player" was a factor.