Play us a song, piano men
Every night around Tampa Bay, seasoned piano men hold court in a variety of piano bars. Sure, there are plenty of old favorites: Frank Sinatra standards, Billy Joel and Elton John, The Music of the Night. A piano man has to please his audience, after all.
But these guys are truly nimble at the keyboard, and it's amazing how much music they know. Allon Sams will break into some funk by Average White Band. Carl Fuerstman, above, does a smoldering Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Vladimir Moldovan knows all the music from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.
Anne Glover and John Fleming spent some time chatting with several piano men off-duty to get a little insight into what life's like behind the keys. Here's a taste:
Sams, on his best tip days: "An average tip day is about $50 or $75. A good tip day is $150. A great one is when they're giving you $100 for each song. I had one guy who wanted to hear Kansas City and gave me $100. Five times I played it, and five times he gave me $100.''
Tony Castellano, on his repertoire: "I sat down one day and wrote out all the songs I do, and it was close to 300. Out of the 300, about 50 were instrumentals, so I know lyrics to about 250 songs.''
Fuerstman, on reading the crowd: "I do my best work when I have 12 people sitting around my piano. I can pick up on what they want to hear. They feel special."