What Is Dueling Pianos?

Pianos, shells and some of the other equipment that travels with Dueling Pianos being set-up for a poolside gig

Dueling Pianos (DP) has been around as long as there have been pianos. Beethoven wrote for four hands. There are accounts of piano duets and duels between Chopin and Liszt, Count Basie and Oscar Peterson, all the way up to Billy Joel and Elton John.

As a nightclub phenomenon, DP started at the still existing Pat O’Brian’s in New Orleans in 1938. It began changing from a risqué jazz/blues act to a rock oriented show in the mid 80’s and branched out to several clubs in Texas. The first DP club north of the Mason-Dixon line opened in 1989 at the legendary Baja Beach Club at North Pier in Chicago, and that’s when Mick Archer comes into the picture.

Mick was leading jazz trios, playing the blues clubs, and fronting his own original rock bands as a guitarist as well as a singing keyboardist when DP arrived in Chicago. Out of a field of over one hundred candidates, he was hired on the spot and began his dueling career, partnering with some of the finest rocking pianists in the country, many with whom he still works with today.

After more than a decade in the clubs, Mick Archer cleaned up the act and took it outside of the nightclub setting and presented DP to colleges, corporate, private and civic events and even seniors groups. As the many letters of reference on file indicate, this is an act for virtually any kind of event and audience: anything from tuxedoed classical instrumental mood music to swing & jazz, country, oldies, classic and contemporary rock. Plus, special theme events such as Christmas, patriotic, Blues, Beatles, Motown, or individualized shows are available.

Of course, the act never gets too far away from the rocking good time audience participation show that has it’s roots in the club scene.

Mick Archer has made many TV, radio, and recording appearances as featured act, sideman and jingle performer. He has shared a stage with such legends as The Drifters, The Platters, The Dells, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Ted Nugent, Styx, Ray Charles, Jay Leno, Tito Puente and many of the finest of Chicago’s blues and jazz greats. He has appeared nationwide and in eight countries, including three months as resident pianist at the Westin Tokyo.

10 Reasons To Book Dueling Pianos

  1. Sing along requests
  2. Vast repertoire, from 50’s to current
  3. Outrageous humor
  4. Audience participation
  5. All-ages appeal
  6. Self-contained, including portable mock grand piano shells
  7. Professional sound & light technician at all performances
  8. Theme oriented, for any kind of audience or event
  9. Just two guys
  10. Do you really need another reason?