A lot of people often discover a love for playing piano or passion for exploring music at venues or in live music environments. Listening to music is one thing, but to see it live and the sounds bringing an entire room into unison is another.
Today, we speak to Jukeboxers - A newly launched duelling piano bar based in Birmingham, who are bringing an elegant combination of cocktails, pristine piano playing and song requests to the masses in a sensational manner. We caught up with husband and wife founders Shannon and Sam just before the launch to explore the bar’s plans to bring the piano firmly into the Birmingham limelight!
The ideas of duelling pianos is not something that many brits understand fully until they see it first hand, as Shannon explains, the concept actually originated from the USA.
Shannon: “The concept of a duelling piano bar is essentially that there is a live band playing all evening, featuring two singer pianists and multi-instruments who trade songs throughout the evening in a highly interactive and engaging audience based show.”
Sam: “We met in 2015 when I auditioned at Howl At The Moon, a piano duelling bar in the USA. We worked together for four years pretty well there, whilst we’re both pianists, we both also play drums, guitar and sing so this is something that we’ve brought over to be able to support each other's performances.
Being a live, interactive environment, this gives the night these wonderful peaks and troughs of energy where we’ll do 10-15 minutes of big band material with the entire team playing together, then we’ll bring the mood back down to a more intimate session, sitting around the piano with the audience singing along.”
Shannon: “Jukeboxers ultimately boils down to a non-stop live music show featuring two pianos, you say it, we play it, from The Beatles to Beyonce, from Duran Duran to Dua Lipa we’ve got you covered!”
Sam: “I’ve genuinely transitioned from Disney’s ‘A Whole New World to Eminem’s ‘The Real Slim Shady’ and it’s moments like that which always make us love what we do!”
When speaking to Shannon and Sam, it’s clear that their passion for music is simply infectious, from the radiant smiles to the level of energy and enthusiasm they inject into their playing, sharing music with crowds is a huge part of their lives.
Shannon: “I think for me, music has been such a big part of our social lives for so long. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been involved in music and it provided me a way to make some of the best friends I’ve ever had and of course, it also brought me to Sam.
It’s one of the biggest sources of my confidence and gives us both a real sense of vitality. There’s nothing quite like being able to see someone do something they’re so passionate about.”
Sam: “I have to echo a lot of that, but in my case, I’ve always suffered somewhat from an excess of personality, but when I get behind a piano I can connect with people, I can make them laugh and share the songs we love!
For us, the most essential thing is to share our love for the music with the audience, it can be a real struggle to watch performers take a request ‘because they are supposed to’ and not really get into it, whereas we were taught and trained to at least portray that we are loving every note!
Going back to the social side, whilst we’ve also got the big backing band, something we are really trying to capture is the idea of you and your friend playing a song at a piano at a party or in their living room, because that feeling is so socially bonding and so fun that we’re so excited to be able to share that with crowds.”
As mentioned, it’s not uncommon for people to discover a love for music whilst seeing it live, for many, it can be a real eye opening moment of thinking “I want to be able to play that!” or “I want to join in this conversation.” Both Sam and Shannon have taken this into account and believe that Jukeboxers will be a fantastic way to help more and more people discover a love for piano and playing music.
Sam: “Both of us were music educators in the past and believe it brings out so much in people. Many people talk about the academic benefits of learning, which there are, others talk about the health benefits of it, which there are, but I actually think all of that sort of misses the point.
Music is an enriching thing to have in your life. It is a thing that can bring you happiness and is the one of the few things that teaches, particularly for young people, how to be able to make themselves happy. In my opinion, piano is such an accessible instrument that anyone can explore and approach that brings so much joy and happiness, even the frustration that comes with learning, always delivers a satisfaction at the end.”
Shannon: “I think someone coming into Jukeboxers, seeing what we are able to do on the piano, it does enable people to feel like they can learn too. I think both of us have learned so much from doing what we do and nothing could be a better way of learning than actually playing in front of a room!”
With the bar now open for launch and the duo are already dazzling audiences every night in a non-stop fun musical fest, you will want to make sure you book your place whilst you still can! The idea of a British duelling piano bar is incredibly exciting to us and brings with it an incredible breath of fresh air into the live music bar scene. Especially after a pandemic, we are incredibly excited to see the Jukeboxer journey and how this wonderful idea begins to thrive across the country!
We wish Sam and Shannon all the best of luck and will be visiting Jukeboxers very soon!