I'm a Stride Pianist with a heavy emphasis on the tunes of the Tin Pan Alley/Hot Jazz Era. I can cover almost any request from the late 1800's through Jazz of the late 1950's. I'm a high energy player (fingerbuster), but also know my way around a ballad and have done tons of work playing cocktail piano. I'm intimately familiar with the books of the Rat Pack, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Fats Waller, etc. I've held down steady gigs in Vegas for the better part of a decade, and am most comfortable in a bar/lounge setting. I've made numerous national media appearances, and recently recorded my first album in LA (tentatively titled "Down and Out"). If you want hot-time music, I'm your man!
Price Range: $100 and up (hrs, piano provided, etc)
What to Expect
I'm a stride pianist at heart (hot-time jazz). I like to play old music fast, loose, and well. If you're looking for a classical pianist, then I'm not your man. That being said, I have extensive experience working all kinds of rooms (from packed bars to lounges served by the tuxedo crowd). I cover around 3,000 tunes, mostly from the 1900's through the 1950's (all focused on jazz and the "Great American Songbook")... my repertoire features all of the greats; Dean Martin, Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Gershwin... I could go on and on... I never make up a set list (unless explicitly requested to in advance of performance - just drop me a line and we can talk), and am very comfortable with almost any request - provided that it's within my genre (and, if not, I've spent enough time working with audience members that I'm good at suggesting appropriate substitutions).
The maxim that I try to serve is "there is no greater feeling for a musician than to be useful." Depending on the event, room, audience, and equipment, etc., I do my best to make everyone happy.
I've received many wonderful compliments during my career, but my favorite will always be "Thank you so much; please... play some more."
Ultimately, if you want unobtrusive background music for your cocktail party, I can do that, but what I truly love is to provide rollicking old-time, hot stride piano to an audience who wants to hear great traditional jazz.
I've spent the vast majority of my adult life behind a keyboard here in Vegas (happily, usually in locales where booze has been readily available).
I competed in the World Championship Old-Time Piano-Playing Competition when I was 19 years old (and was invited to do so on very short notice, I might ad), but I really cut my teeth by playing 12 hours every Friday night at one of the most celebrated beer bars in the country, The Freakin' Frog. Out of my four years there, I learned how to deal with all kinds of audiences under all kinds of circumstances. Once, shortly after the bar opened, we were raided (this remains one of my favorite anecdotes from that time)... But, regardless, out of my four years holding down Friday nights there, I missed only 3 (one due to illness, the other due to road gigs). I love playing hot-time stride piano for mixed crowds; it's a fundamentally enjoyable form of music, much more versatile than many would think.
If you're looking for technical information about me and my chops: I studied classical piano for the better part of a decade, and was fortunate enough to study under Buddy Hill (rest his soul; not a day goes by that I don't miss him). Buddy (who was one of those lamentably forgotten sidemen of the glory days here in Vegas) expanded my knowledge of theory to the realm of Jazz, recording techniques, music technology, and a generally (if I say so myself) well-rounded sense of music as an industry.
Buddy was a genius; he worked with Moog and helped to develop modular monophonic synthesizers. In vegas, he was a dead-eye reader, and was comfortable in the pit with a full orchestra as he was in a small combo working off of heads.
From there, I tutored Music Theory I-IV at the college level while I worked my way towards my degree (which, for several reasons, never materialized) in Jazz Composition.
All along the way, I expanded my repertoire, and (after 18 years) am able to play more tunes than I can count. I have written music for short films, composed and arranged tunes for big bands, and have 8 years of experience working with small ensembles. But what I love (more than anything in the world) is playing in the traditional jazz idioms that have kept me in this crazy game in the first place.
I've recently done my first serious studio work (which I found scary and strange because there was no audience in the studio), first for a radio piece about me and my love for Earl "Fatha" Hines (my favorite Jazz pianist of all-time) for WNYC's "Studio360" program (which is heard by several million people across the country on NPR/PRI). Simultaneously, I was approached by Working Blue Productions to record my first album (tentatively titled "Down And Out"), principal recording of which was completed in June of 09 (but I'm dragging my feet before going back into the studio). It was recorded on a fully restored 1896 Knabe baby grand at The Lair in LA, and was one of the most wonderful and terrifying experiences of my musical career.
These days, I'm open to almost any suggestion, but am trying to relocate to New Orleans (or, more accurately, am currently mounting an exploratory mission for a month or so to see if there might be more work for me there). Please consider me for your next cocktail party, reception, corporate function, or social engagement, and (of course) give me a call or drop me a line via email with any questions you may have.
While I am able to play almost anywhere (have keyboard and amp/will travel and all that), I prefer working on a real piano (with or without amplification), and I do charge a small premium for the extra labor involved if I have to bring my own axe(especially so if the event is only a few hours). Other than that, my rates are generally very reasonable: unless you'd like extraordinarily specific song-lists, I think you'll find that my fees are entirely comparable to other reception pianists). Check out the links to my vids, some samples from my recent sessions, and don't hesitate to just give me a call or email. I look forward to working with you to make your special event or occasion into a genuine night to remember!
|Seth "Fingers" Flynn Barkan||Stride Pianist/Singer|
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