Friday, May 25, 2018
News Roundup

Carl the piano man on success, music and entertaining baby boomers

It's 6 o'clock on a Wednesday, the regular crowd shuffles in. Alone or in pairs, they belly up to the bar in front of Carl Fuerstman to listen to him make magic on the piano, playing covers, medleys and even some of his original songs at Billy's Stonecrab restaurant in Tierra Verde. There's a big glass bowl in the middle of the bar shaped like the top of a grand piano. He counts on those tips to make a living — and tips he gets. Four or five times the amount of money he is paid for each gig. I don't think he has to worry. Everyone sitting at the bar seems to be a Carl groupie. They know the drill. They tell him a song they want to hear, he starts playing it and they throw a tip into the big glass bowl. For the uninitiated, there are, scattered around the bar, laminated sheets of paper with a list of all the songs he plays. Roger Humbert, 62, of Gulfport has been following Carl from bar to bar for 22 years. He met him at Ceviche in 1991. "Carl is an entertainer, not just a musician. He's a musician by requirement but he visits with people, stops to make jokes and panders to the audience — something he can do in such an intimate setting as a piano bar." This particular Wednesday, Carl is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and an Indiana Jones hat. His versatility is evident from the beginning of the first set when he plays everything from Barry White to Phantom of the Opera to a song by the band Train. Carl, who played in bands for 25 years before striking out on his own, is a champion for the older generation. "As a 58-year-old musician, I don't like the idea that our age group is being pushed aside," he said. "In our 50s, 60s and 70s, we still want to go out and take our wives and girlfriends out. "Baby boomers don't want to go quietly; they're not willing to give up."

Patti Ewald, Times staff writer

1How did you get to St. Petersburg?

Originally from Charlotte, N.C., he said he moved to Florida in 1983 and never went back. He played in a band at the Gallery (now Mermaids) on St. Pete Beach. "It was a great gig. It used to be "the" bar on St. Pete Beach for bringing in bands from the East Coast." A few years later, he struck out on his own, auditioned at Ceviche (then called 10 Beach Drive) and got the job. "That was 1988. I played piano and sang. There were no background tracks then." Today, he builds his own background tracks on his computer and then uses them to accompany his piano playing.

2How many different songs do you know?

About 300; they come and go. (You can see his list of songs — as well as where he'll be appearing — at carlspianobar.com.) He didn't want to name his most or least favorite but did say he "can listen to the Beatles without any problem."

3 Where do you live?

I live in Redington Shores with Sheri, my girlfriend of 20 years, our two Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Albert and Henry, and a cockatiel named Newman.

4Were there any big hurdles you had to overcome?

He was working in upstate New York in a band years before he moved to Florida. When the lead singer asked band members to comment on what they thought was good and bad with the band, Carl said, "You can't sing." To which the lead singer responded, "You're fired." He had a lot of time to think about his next move because he had to stay with his sister in New York City until he could earn enough money to get back to North Carolina.

5If you could tell people one thing, what would it be?

"There are actually two adages I go by. At some point in your life there's going to have to be some sacrifice; you have to push everything out of the way. If you want to get ahead, you'll have to sacrifice everything else to get there.

"The other one is: stay on the train. When you're on the train, you can't see how fast you're going. When you get off, you can see in three seconds how fast you're going. You pat yourself on the back but then the train is gone. Stay on the train. Don't worry about the accolades, they'll come."

Comments
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said Thursday, one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the C...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

It’s human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

TAMPA — Michael Bratt told a story.He said that Hernando County sheriff’s deputies attacked him in his home early one morning eight years ago, beat him severely on his front lawn, and continued the assault as they took him to a hospital.But another s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Updated: 4 hours ago
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Updated: 5 hours ago