Pianos duel in Rewood

By Lindsay Cameron

The man playing a piano solo with his butt on Saturday night used to be a graphic design artist.

AU students watched Landon Rocks and Brandon Kent perform for a Dueling Pianos CAB event last Saturday in Redwood Hall. CAB members wore leis and served virgin margaritas with umbrella straws while students sang group karaoke and danced amongst the café tables.

An interactive event, many students were seen on the stage by the end of the night. Kent and Rocks performed a range of songs, such as, “Pokerface,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Ice Ice Baby,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and “Build me Up Buttercup.”

They even rapped and beat-boxed to Green Eggs and Ham, while Rocks wore a Cat in the Hat hat.

According to Jason Scarcelli, management and booking agent, Dueling Pianos is a karaoke concept most often performed in bars for older people. Rocks and Kent perform on behalf of Dueling Pianos International, which has over 125 performances each year to colleges and universities.

Dueling Pianos International was voted “performers of the year” by the Association and Promotion of Campus Activities, Scarcelli said.

Rocks and Kent said they prefer performing for college students because non-alcoholic venues are more enjoyable than bar scenes.

“They’re (college students) not jaded yet,” Rocks said. “They’re a lot more fun and sincere.”

They said they appreciated the energy of the AU students. In particular, Kent enjoyed the student conga line during “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang.

During “Free Bird,” a song requested by an AU student, Kent played his piano solo with his feet and his butt, and then proceeded to pound the piano keys with his piano bench.

Even after hours of practicing, their originality arrives spontaneously on the stage.

“It comes on the whim of things,” Kent said. “The more you play you start to establish your own identity with it.”

Rocks, who has played piano since age five, was a chef and Kent, who has played since age 11, was a graphic design artist before they auditioned for Dueling Pianos International. Rocks said his parents told him when he was younger that he would never make a career as a musician. When he heard of Dueling Pianos, he said he practiced for eight to 10 hours each day for the career change.

“I wanted it that bad,” Rocks said.

Kent said singing was his biggest challenge because prior to Dueling Pianos he had only focused on his piano skills.

They now both know over a thousand songs to play by request.

A group of students led the audience in singing “Y.M.C.A.” while wearing the Village-People-style hats on stage. Darnell Woods wore the construction worker hat.

“It (the Dueling Pianos show) was good because it was something different and people had to create their own fun if they didn’t like it or thought it was weird,” Woods said.

Mary Brown danced on the stage with a group of students during “Proud Mary.” Her participation, she said, made the experience more enjoyable and “livened up the atmosphere.”

“I think Dueling Pianos is a good event to have at AU because it made for a nice, relaxing atmosphere with friends. It was really nice for CAB to put it on and also provide “mock tails”-which were delicious-and snacks,” Brown said.