Hotels in Baton Rouge Belle of Baton Rouge Casino and Hotel

Trip to Baton Rouge, LA - Any tips for running locations/safety?

So, tomorrow I am supposed to drive out to Baton Rouge and spend the next 4 days at a conference. I'm looking for some locations to run so I don't have to suffer as much on the hotel treadmill but I hear a lot of different things. Anybody have any tips/ideas or insight on the area surrounding the Convention Center, Belle Casino, or the Hilton Capitol?
Thanks in advance!
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[Table] I am a singer and pianist at a very famous piano bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. AMA

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Date: 2013-06-15
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Questions Answers
Because you're not a good enough musician? Yeah its too advanced. harder to play than steely dan / joni mitchell combined.
Any stories about brawls? What exactly do you mean by "drunk shenanigans." Are the slutty girls not tourists? Are these "working girls"? Or just working girls. Without sounding cocky or anything, the truth is that i get hit on a lot by women. phone numbers, hotel room keys, etc. (being able to play piano & control a room is a pretty powerful thing)
We've had some pretty big fights but 99% of the time it's a fun atmosphere- ppl drinking and singing along with us. the fights are usually Alabama football v LSU fans.
If you want to get laid there are a couple steps you've got to do. 1. Learn to play an instrument or one song really well. 2. Play it in front of drunk women. 3. Get laid. -Guy Code. Its sort of like having a super power, or being super handsome. but yeah, man, years and years of practice (at piano and performing, not getting laid lol)
Ever take any of them up on it? :D? A lady never tells.
Could you please please please please a million times please do a rendition of Tom Waits's Alice? Damn you guys are too damn hip for me with these awesome requests :-\ i can play "down in the hole" or another tom waits for ya but i haven't learned "alice" yet (but what a great tune)..
I'm down with anything from Tom Waits. Do your favorite song. Also, what a nice album from James Booker that is. Link to hope you like it!
How in the hell do you guys remember so many songs? Do you just sit around learning random tunes that drunks might think of? I have lyrics and chords on the iPad they let us bring on stage. if a song i dont know gets requested a lot, i'm losing money by not knowing it, so i learn it. but sometimes, if i really love a song, i learn it. the last song i learned bc i liked it was "Diane Young" (from the new vampire weekend record). sounds fucking great on piano too.
Can you upload a video of you playing Diane Young? Link to
Craziest Bourbon Street/bar story? One friday night about a year ago, i was singing "hotel california" to the piano bar full of people (i think it was around superbowl time. totally packed). anyways, i get to the line in the song "they stab it full of steely knives, but they just cant kill the BEAST." As soon as I say the word "Beast," all of the lights in the room go out. Pitch darkness.
Everyone starts to freak out, yelling, spilling drinks, trying to head for the exit but theres no light, glass everywhere.
Turns out it was a result of a black out in the entire french quarter. Everyone had to leave, because power wouldn't be restored for hours.
Apart from that, Mario Lopez was in the piano bar last night, so i guess that's just as crazy (AC Slater requesting "tiny dancer"). I got douche chills..
Do you play any other instruments? I consider myself "basically terrible" on guitar. I have been attempting to learn the cowbell, as well. Very difficult instrument.
Two questions... Who would be your dream partner to play with? If the table was turned, what's one song you would request? Elton john (or the ghost of james brown)
"gimme shelter" by the rolling stones or "badfish" by sublime.
Is this your dream job, or are you working on something? Ever dream about taking your show on the road? Am I correct that you play the piano? I'm mulling over a request. "Piano man" seems so cliche. But it is a great song. I just turned 30 a month ago, but i don't plan on working on bourbon street my whole life. i record a lot and write a lot, and try to stay creative & busy. always getting better.
Okay, how about the song How Come My Dog Don't Bark? Can you do that one? I don't know that one actually, but i know dr john's "such a night" and "right place wrong time"
Either one of those? i can play it now real quick if u want ;)
How about "such a night," haven't heard that one for a while. Thanks! Just recorded it, its uploading (give it a min and i'll post the link)
What songs are requested the most? I'll bet the tips are pretty good from all of the drunk tourists. Sweet caroline.
Piano man.
Tiny dancer.
Don't stop believing.
Brown eyed girl.
These are the most by far. i've played "sweet caroline" more times than neil diamond himself, guaranteed (he's never had to play it 5 times in a night lol)
How do you feel about Bob Breck's toupee? Partly askew with a chance of drizzle.
Lucky Dogs. Best drunk food ever or the worst drunk food ever? Gross. made from dire wolf meat and broken dreams.
Question from the wife: what's the application process like? The application process involved me calling the GM every day for like a month, telling him i'd play for free for a week, etc. i was pretty persistent (read: annoying) i initially didn't get the job, and had to move to pennsylvania for a few years bc of hurricane katrina. when i got back, the GM called me to play, so i found a replacement piano player for the casino gig i was at, & drove straight there from mississippi. been there ever since.
Question from me: what's up with the dude with the tray full of coins? It's annoying. Thats alvin - he's a great guy, and good friend. been working there 42 years;)
Is Lafitte's haunted? And do you know a man with the last name Spence? Not sure but theres some crazy juju in that place. i've played there before and its really fun
Doesnt ring a bell.
What's the biggest tip you've received, most famous patron? $1500 to play American Pie. Apparently the guy had just won a whole lot of money at the casino, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. You better believe I played every damn verse of that song. There's at least 483 verses, fyi.
C-Can I request it?? Full version please, I hate it when the radio skips verses, as I know the whole song by heart. I love that song... I understand it's a bit long and understand if you say no.^_^ Apparently the going rate for the full song is around $1500.
As a fellow pianist, I think your job is amazing. This would be a dream job for me except I cant sing :(. What kind of piano education do you have? When did you start playing? Knowing so many songs, is there a trick you use to remember them or is it just remembering the chord progression? Its hard to explain, but because i mainly am playing by ear for work, i just have to be familiar enough with a song, the general "vibe" or rhythmic feeling it has, and its not that hard. i have the ipad at work mainly for the lyrics. ALSO, i am pretty terrible at remembering peoples names/faces. i have the suspicion that all that space in my memory is being used up by shitty jimmy buffett songs.
Horny Gators. Hand Grenades. Daiquiri Shops. Absinthe. What's your favorite drink to get that may be overlooked or unknown to a visitor on Bourbon Street? Try a Gin Fizz at Tujague's, or an Old Fashioned at the Ritz.
Got any good stories of famous people coming in? Funny celeb story, zac brown was in the piano bar like 3 months ago, and i was sort of nervous because everyone was requesting zac brown songs. its nerve-racking playing someones song in front of them. i mean, fuck that. seriously. anyways, i played "colder weather" and it went OK and then i noticed the guy had signed "Thanks for the music. -Zach" on the napkin. he was totally NOT fucking zac brown (theres no "H" in his name), he was just a hillbilly with a trucker hat and a grizzly adams beard drinking bud light and signing autographs, hitting on girls. dude fooled the entire place for 2 hours, taking pictures, etc. in retrospect, it was pretty hilarious.
Michael buble came in after a show here in new orleans and was super nice to everyone, taking pictures etc. apparently he requested one of his own songs "save the last dance." During the superbowl in Feb, we had a ton of celebs come through. jerry rice, jason bateman (hero), billionaire jerry jones (great tipper ;), got to meet michael phelps, everyone was super nice. andy roddick and brooklyn decker came awhile back, she requested "don't stop believing." (i DEFINITELY didn't smell the napkin after she handed it to me like a creeper. promise.). the crossbow dude from "the walking dead" comes in every year for new orleans comicon, super nice guy. and last, but certainly not least, Lance Bass.
That's awesome! Also you'll get a lot of /thewalkingdead fans talking about Norman Reedus, or "The crossbow dude" haha. Norman is a cool dude. came in with the boondock saints cast (minus willem dafoe) and requested "rocket man"
What song do you love to play that people don't request enough? Michael jackson "the way you make me feel" --love it.
I'd like to see a recording of this one! Sure i'll post one- gimme a sec.
Link to there ya go.
What are your favorite and least favorite events in NOLA? Like Mardi Gras, Bayou Classic, Jazzfest, etc. I guess bayou classic only because its the most dangerous weekend of the year. also, never to wear a pink tie during "southern decadence" weekend. huge mistake, though the crowd is actually really fun and they are good tippers.
Best random sit in guest? In the history of the piano bar, i'd have to say either willie nelson or kenny rodgers, though this was before my time. we do get a fair amount of celebs but i havent had any notable sit-ins, unfortunately...
Question: How long have you been playing? Do you have any formal qualifications/training/grading/boss level victories? How many hours per week do you play, practice included? Request: Tom Waits - All the world is green. Statement: You're cool. Thanks man, i am on stage performing at least 20 hours a week. besides that, i am always learning new songs, writing songs, thinking about music. just finished a music video for a new music project. i also do a considerable amount of session work, where people hire me to play piano in the studio for hip hop/country/liturgical/anything... helps to be versatile.
Are you ever unable to play something because it simply wouldn't work on piano? If i try hard enough i can do a rendition of anything on the piano. even lil wayne.
Since other people are doing requests...I would love to hear a piano rendition of Biggie Smalls Going Back to Cali. The only b.i.g. i know is "juicy" -let me know if thats aight.
Heck yeah man, I couldn't decide between juicy and going back to cali. Link to
Any Beginner tips for a young pianoman looking to start somewhere? Don't be afraid to make mistakes. my immediate reaction when i hit a wrong note or can't reach a high vocal parts is to smile. we're not performing brain surgery over here. if you stress out over it, the audience can tell. have fun and enjoy it. shake it off, homie.
You will learn SO MUCH MORE from bad gigs than from good ones. and you WILL have some awful gigs, starting out. learn from them. (i still have bad nights all the time)
Don't underestimate the power of a good business card. with design/printing, they may cost you 150-200 bucks, BUT the'll last you for years. makes you look professional. also, always overdress for gigs.
Lastly, i'd recommend going to a nursing home that has a piano sometime and play for the elderly. not only is it good karma, but they are the easiest audience you'll ever have. it will be the highlight of their day, even if you sound terrible:)
Good luck, and feel free to email me if u have any more questions: mageezbeats at gmail.
For God's sake, do you know "Football's coming home"? Piano bars just aren't the same across the pond! What's your favorite piano bar song that doesn't seem to get enough love? Billy Joel - Vienna is one of my favorite piano songs that we rarely get requests for.
I don't understand how. It's such gorgeous song. Post it? Sure gimme a few minutes
Where did you live when you were in Pennsylvania and what did you do there? I would looove if you could do a Steely Dan song for me. "Kid Charlemagne" if you know it. Never saw someone able to play it on the piano. Woof... i'd rather not try and embarass myself trying to rock out some steely dan on the piano. shit is written for 12-string and is crazy. musically brilliant, but cray. lived in bethlehem, pennsylvania and finished my bachelors in music performance degree at Lehigh University (was at Tulane)
Do you play at lafitte's? :) No but i have played there before. awesome spot, and the owner, Joe, is a great guy.
I've just started watching Treme, the TV show, have you seen it? If you did, what did you think of it? How accurate would you say it is in their portrayal of New Orleans musicians? Watched the first episode and but didn't watch anymore. i'm sure its a good show, but it is literally like walking outside of my apartment and walking around (i live in the french quarter near the marigny / treme area). would you watch a show about your yard and job and your neighbors and yourself? too familiar to be interesting. but i do love the wire, so david simon knows whats up.
That's awesome... Was trying to guess by the background... One last guess, then I will stop... Pat O'brien's? :) Can't really confirm or deny. But you're pretty much narrowed it down ;) i'll say this- its the BEST piano bar in the world. That should be enough of a hint.
Makes sense. Thanks for answering and great job with the AmA! Thanks. new to all this but its been fun.
Did you work Mardi Gras night this year? I think I got to see you play. There's only 2 male players there, so its likely.
Son could you play me a melody? I'm not really sure how it goes but it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete when I wore a younger man's clothes. Dont know any. sorry.
Hmm, maybe i'll ask billy joel. Link to Thanks for the link! was that leaked off kanye west's new album? super tight!
Kind of a weird question, but I always thought Bourbon street had nothing on Frenchmen street (less authentic, more touristy/tacky, just my opinion, though, please understand). What makes you love Bourbon so much? I don't love bourbon street. actually, i havent gone out on bourbon street in years. frenchman has a lot more new orleans authentic jazz groups and a more laid back / less touristy atmosphere by far. when i have a night off, i usually just watch netflix.
Do you play "at the gangbang"? Nope. sounds like a beautiful song though.
Can somebody give you money NOT to play a song? I swear to God if I go to a piano bar and hear Piano Man one more time I'm going to lose my shit. Other question: what's the hardest song you know? Last piano bar I went to I requested Yes - Roundabout and the dude laughed and said he couldn't play it. Some piano bars do that, but at the one I work at, we don't stop playing songs just because someone throws money at us. As far as the hardest song I know, it's a toss-up between "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" and "Changes" by Tupac.
Its hard to rap like Tupac and play relatively-complicated bruce hornsby chord changes at the same time. Like patting your head & rubbing your belly at the same time.
Cool. I play piano too and The Way It Is is one of my favorite songs to play. The songs we get requested are normally simple pop tunes, musically.
Uhmm, if you may could you pour your talent into some Johnny Cash, maybe "God's gonna cut you down"? Thank you so much. You're the best! Ok i've never heard the song before but i am going to challenge myself to learn it real quick and give you a video. no bullshit. give me 5-10 min.
Thanks. i give myself a B minus for accuracy, but an A for effort.
I play out a few nights a week solo acoustic and know about 70 songs. 3000 is fucking amazing! How long are the sets you play? What kind of vocal warm up do you do so that 5 nights of singing doesn't kill your voice? We play hour long shifts 4 times a night. thats 4 hours a night with hour long breaks in between.
My record is 22 nights straight singing multiple hours a night. (that was during the saints superbowl season lol...)
I guess i have good technique (never taken a singing lesson in my life), lots of water, and hitting the vibrate button when people call me during the day.
Green tea/honey/lemon when the pipes are feeling scratchy always helps. or if you are a drinking man, try a shot of baronjaeger (honey liquor, works like a charm)
Aww, so it's like the Disneyland of New Orleans? That doesn't sound as cool as what I had in my head. Bourbon st is not that cool. actually its the least cool part of new orleans. but trust me you'll still fall in love with the city.
Chopin--Polonaise Heroic, Op.53. Not doing any more videos today. maybe tomorrow.
Also, is there any work in New Orleans for a bassist these days? And YES. good bass players are the busiest musicians i know. GREAT bass players can never fit you in because they're so booked up.
I just moved to Baton Rouge from Texas. Do you ever come play here? I am a musician myself and love finding new people to play with. Yea i'm actually playing a charity gig in BR june 25th but i normally don't play there much... you play around town?
Not yet. Going to some open mics in the coming weeks to jam and meet the local musicians and hopefully find someone to gig with. Where are you playing in BR later this month? You have a dream job, man. Somewhere on lsu campus i think for a big art charity foundation. thanks man- its a fun job. always interesting.
Aww you're our favorite one!! Does the bohemian rhapsody get played every single day? I can't get enough of screaming that freaking song, but I'm sure it gets old for you! Thanks for keeping up our fav spot :) Thanks:) yeah, it gets requested quite a bit (not the easiest song to sing though) nice name, by the way.
Have you ever covered any music by jam bands like the grateful dead or phish? I plan on going to New Orleans in the next year when I turn 21 and I would be so happy to hear some good ol dead. Casey jones, scarlet begonias, & a couple more i can't remember.
Check this guy out! Old video, but I love it Link to Whoa nice- "paper planes" is one of the songs i've sat down to learn, but its such a weird track that its hard to put melodic content in there. thanks for the link.
Silly question but what the heck, have you ever met lil wayne or birdman? Was hired to interview birdman for YRB magazine a few years back, unrelated to the piano bar (i'm not a journalist by any means but a friend needed a favor). he was wearing an all gucci tracksuit and showed up in a stretch PT cruiser. true story.
I had a chance to see one of the best singepianist/storytellers in the business one night in Seattle. Allen Toussaint took us on a journey extraordinaire that night. Do you do that kind of show? I think the art of telling a story with music as the backdrop is going by the wayside. Love allen toussaint. incredibly talented and really connects with the music. ALSO, my vote for New Orleans best-dressed of all time. (huey p. long being a distant 2nd)
Did I just see a fuckin' shuriken made out of money?! Definitely still have the shuriken. its worth far more than the $2 it was constructed with.
Do people ever request New Orleans jazz music or is it just rock/pop? Everything from scott joplin to (shudder) carly rae jepsen.
Just recorded it, its uploading (give it a min and i'll post the link) Link to
My 11-year-old daughter requests Adel's Rolling in the Deep. I warned her that might not be your style, but I told her I would ask. Sure give me a sec
Started at 4 and a half years old. had classical piano lessons up until college, majored in piano performance at Tulane... parents really cracked the whip, made me practice hours a day. really hated it then, but i thank them every day now. Ps fuck the jets.
Try a Gin Fizz at Tujague's, or an Old Fashioned at the Ritz. As far as bourbon st goes, i wouldnt recommend any novelty drinks whatsoever unless you want a hangover. but that's my personal preference bc i hate sugary drinks. some of my girl friends love the "190 octane" daiquiris (they are deceptively strong too)
I'm in the UK here, so don't really know New Orleans. Can you tell us a bit about the famous piano bar and Bourbon Street in general. Thanks. Without going into specifics about my particular place of work, a piano bar is a place where people can sit a table with their friends, write down song requests on a napkin or paper, and hand it to the players (sometimes with tips, sometimes not). then they get served a strong mixed drink concoction, and enjoy hearing their favorite songs live. it's like a concert where you determine the playlist, and everyone, including the patrons, can sing along and interact with the show. if you want to know about bourbon street in general, i dont know where to begin... it's a place where bad decisions are made, the original "boulevard of broken dreams."
. I'll love you even more for doing this song. Ok lol not bad for having never heard it to 5 minutes later: Link to -i like challenging myself ;)
Sure gimme a few minutes Link to love this song.
I've played piano all my life, and I am nowhere good enough to do something like this, but this sounds like a fucking dream job. Human jukeboxes, spreading good cheer for lots of people. it is an awesome job, though it can get mentally exhausting, like any other job.
I'm going there tonight! I'll draw a Snoo smiley face on the napkin request :) I'm not working tonight :-\ whats snoo?
Wayne and I want to know what your favorite winged mythological creature is. Dragons, mostly.
A few months ago I drunkenly asked you or one of your colleagues to play a Kate Bush song. I just wanted to say I'm sorry. Forgiveable. better than asking for a song by the band bush.
What are some of your favorite bars to go to in nola, sidenote i'm from louisiana also. Dba/blue nile on frenchman, delachaise uptown. honestly i'm at a bar so much at work i dont do too much bar-hopping when i have a night off. in the french quarter, i like finnegans, sometimes bmc.
I know its cliche', but I love "Piano Man" :D Such a good song! ^_^ I hope you're not entirely sick of it!!! I'm not entirely sick of piano man, per se.. sometimes i catch myself on auto-pilot, however.
Last updated: 2013-06-19 16:12 UTC
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