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Dueling Pianos a hit at Municipal Stadium

July 09, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- The air in Municipal Stadium was saturated Thursday evening with the familiar smells of popcorn, hot dogs and beer, but in place of the usual sounds of cracking bats and shouting fans came bouncing piano melodies, rhythmic clapping and belted Billy Joel lyrics.

The night's attraction, after all, was not rival teams, but dueling pianos.

About 350 people turned out for the stadium's first-ever "Dueling Pianos Night Out" featuring entertainers Tony T. and Wildman Joe from Philadelphia, said Joel Pagliaro, director of corporate partnerships for the Hagerstown Suns.

Tickets cost $15 for general admission or $150 for a VIP table for six.

The beer garden and concession stands were open for an hour before the show began at 7 p.m., ensuring many of the guests had no inhibitions about joining in by the time the performers goaded them with lines like "Who knows this tune?" and "You missed it, we've gotta do it again."

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"This is an easy one," Tony T. Decarolis told the crowd as he struck the first notes of "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" "I just need two words on this one."

He sang the opening line, "Someone told me long ago there's a calm before the storm," then paused for the crowd to join in with "I know."

The stadium picked the dueling pianos act in an attempt to offer a fun but unique night of entertainment, Pagliaro said.

"We've done concerts before, but not like this," he said.

It has been about six years since the stadium hosted a nongame night concert, Pagliaro said.

Pagliaro said he thought the dueling pianos act would be something area residents would not find in other local venues. He said the closest piano bar he knew of was in Baltimore.

The stadium took a chance that the piano bar vibe and acoustics would carry over to an open-air stadium, new territory even for the performers themselves, Pagliaro said.

Some of the first attendees to arrive at the event said they were fans of piano bars and eager to see how the format played out in an outdoor venue.

"The bars are great," said Dave Lloyd of Harpers Ferry, W.Va. "They play off the crowd; you tell 'em the songs you want."

Lloyd said he thought about going to the Municipal Stadium show after hearing about it on the radio, and when he saw Thursday evening's beautiful weather, he couldn't resist.

The event also featured a gift basket raffle to benefit the Potomac Classical Youth Ballet Company. The money raised will fund this year's Nutcracker ballet and scholarships for company members, said Toni Rinehart Sullivan, president of the ballet company's board of directors.

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