This bar takes Billy Joel’s "Piano Man" to the nth degree. And as you sit at the bar, you’ll be putting bread in the jar of all three pianists at Gangster’s Dueling Piano Bar in Newport.
Opened in November, this weekend hotspot offers much more than a night of drinks with the girls. "It’s the interaction part that makes it fun where you can laugh at yourself and others," Owner Sharon Forton says.
The way the bar works is that two pianos, each with a pianist, sit in the middle of the bar. Three traveling pianists switch out throughout the night, but two of them are always playing requests from the crowd and singing along with the songs. As the pianists travel, each week is a different experience for guests, allowing them the chance to hear musicians from around the country.
Requests can be anything from a silly tune to a college fight song. As the pianos duel, guests can get in on a song battle of their own. For instance, what happens when some fan from your rival team comes down to play their fight song? You request your alma mater fight song and throw some money in the tip jar. (Hint: The more you tip, the more likely they’ll play your song.)
The idea of the requests "tends to attract a little bit of people’s rowdy side," Forton says. So everyone gets in on the party. Care to dance on stage? Go for it! Want to sing at the top of your lungs? Have a ball.
The bar is attached to The Syndicate, also owned by Forton, and the contrast between an event there and every night at the bar can be hilarious in itself. Somebody belting out their favorite song at The Syndicate might get a couple weird looks, but that same person would fit right in at the piano bar.
The Newport Gangster Tours also leave from Gangster’s Dueling Piano Bar, so you can make a day of it with an interesting tour and an even more interesting night at the bar.
Head to the bar on Thursdays for a special happy hour. From 6 to 8 p.m. all appetizers are half-priced, and you can grab a drink for two bucks. The bar also offers a free meeting space for groups on Thursdays, so you can take care of business and stick around for some drinks.
For more information, head to GangstersPianoBar.com or check them out at 18 East Fifth Street in Newport.
Photo courtesy of Sharon Forton