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The Ivory Room: A place to enjoy local piano.

Post by Nick Rhoads on 11/16/2006 11:43am

ivorypianobar111606.jpgI was recently invited by a friend to attend his performance at the brand spanking new The Ivory Room at 116 W. Mifflin (That’s right across from the Silver Dollar for all you late night cheap drinkers.) Not so much a fan of cheesy live local music that engages the ears like a hungry python requiring one to shout things they wouldn’t usually shout in crowded local venues such as ”LOOK AT THAT ONE OVER THERE! I HOOKED UP WITH HER AFTER A CHEM LAB ONCE!” I was skeptical of a good time. In fact I was overjoyed with the hoot that took place and I could actually use a conversational voice, although I would never say such things mentioned above.

The place itself is quite small but this is what I’d think you want in a piano bar, to be engaged with the entertainment and not just one of the crowd. As you walk in the door a few couches adorn a small lower level from which you walk up a few steps to the main bar area. To your left will be a beautiful wood bar with padded bumpers to lean up against and enjoy the music. To your right is the piano surrounded by an eight or so person bar at which you can look your entertainment in the eye as you enjoy your highball. Behind the piano player are some large picture windows for pedestrian viewing and checking out the stumbling clientele at the Silver Dollar across the street. On the ceiling a great starry addition of a sky black ceiling panels installed with white Christmas lights imitating the night sky, a very nice touch.

As I walked in “Rocket Man” was flowing through the room by the above-mentioned friend, Alex Viana. Looks like as of right now Alex plays every other Saturday, the 18th being his next gig starting at 9pm. He plays beautifully and sings with a casual resonance willing to let mistakes come and use them as a way to commit to the relaxed nature of his imbibing audience. On came piano classics such as Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” and Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” but included also where renditions of The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, and Snoop Dogg. After a Maker’s Mark Bourbon and two PBRs I was damn sure I was having a great time. On the bar attached to the piano are a few stacks of Post Its and pens provided for requests. I choose a favorite by Lyle Lovett “Her First Mistake” but unfortunately it was unknown to Alex although he promised to learn it, didn’t you Alex? He also has a website where you can make requests: mywebspace.wisc.edu/acviana/web

The fact is that The Ivory Room turned over my preconceptions of live local music in Madison. It’s a nice place to sit, the music is enjoyable, not too loud and if you want you can sing along and not feel like the guy with out his lighter during a ballad who doesn’t even know the words. That’s entertainment.