Thursday, August 19, 2010

#2: Bryan's Piano Barr

On Saturday night at Bryan’s Piano Barr, Bryan, himself (last name: Barr), took a break from the piano and camped out behind the bar, while a young guy took over and nervously tickled the plastic-ivories for a few songs.  After the young guy played a couple instrumental tunes and a Nick Drake song, Bryan finished his cigarette and made his way back to the stage.  All of the young guy’s (was his name Zack…?) all of his friends roared and cheered, which gave the necessary push to keep him on stage for one more song with Bryan.  

What followed is one of those moments that you know you can never get back.  A slip second when you have no control over your facial reaction, because you can’t believe what you’re hearing, and in that moment, that is the only way that song should be performed.  Seriously, jaw-dropped, eyes bulged, and yea, I might have accidentally let out one of those girlish “wooooo’s” usually only heard from a rabid *NSYNC fan.  It's a feeling of pure shock that is gone as soon as it appears, leaving you unsure of how you ever felt about that song previously.

Bryan starting the first few notes of the Four Season’s “Sherry Baby” and Zack(?), the previously mild and nervous piano player (“Seriously guys my hands are shaking so you’ll have to bear with me through this next song”) hit that high, whiney, almost shrill “Sheeeeeerrrryyyyy…Sheerrry baaaaby.”  Sounds terrible, but it was nothing short of perfection.  I have not been that entertained since the first time I went to Truman’s Saturday night drag show a few months ago.  Bryan and Zack hammed it up for the next three and a half minutes, making my Saturday night an absolute success.

Bryan at the piano

Bryan’s Piano Barr is definitely Michiana’s version of the evening-in-the-city musical entertainment and bar, complete with linoleum flooring, a drop-down ceiling, blinking Christmas lights hung up along the bar, and a bizarre mix of wall décor (think county-fair caricatures on the wall next to generic piano-themed scenes found at 20 years worth of garage sales).  Sure, you might hear a tinge of sarcasm here, but in all honesty, the matchless, yet humble decorating, the familiar and sometimes bizarre clientele, and of course that intangible quality of Midwestern Americana are what make this bar and other such Michiana spots what this blog is truly all about.  It’s unique, locally owned, wildly entertaining, and a prime example of why I love small town, Midwestern life. 

Here’s the rundown: On Friday and Saturday nights, Bryan plays from approximately 9:30 pm until…until the drinks stop flowing.  There’s a definite routine list that is played each weekend with a few guest performers (for example, “Oooooklahoma” sung by one of the bar’s regulars), but Bryan will also take requests and of course, you can sing with him or do karaoke.  THERE IS NO AGE LIMIT.  I cannot emphasize that enough.  On Saturday, par example, you could find patrons from 21 to 94 in the audience – and that’s just one element of the diversity you’ll find at Bryan’s Piano Barr.  Last, and of course not least, the drinks are very reasonably priced: about $3-4 for a mixed drink and less for a beer.  The only downside is that there’s a $20 minimum for credit card tabs.  But I guess that’s a small price to pay for those “Sheeerrrrry, Sherry baby” moments that I’ve had every night I’ve spent at Bryan’s Piano Barr.

Location: 2410 Mishawaka Avenue in South Bend, IN 
Best Nights to Go: Friday & Saturday 
Tip: Come prepared to sing with Bryan or pressure a friend to

No comments:

Post a Comment