A piano bar (also known as a piano lounge) consists of a piano or electronic keyboard played by a professional musician, located in a cocktail lounge, bar, hotel lobby, or office building lobby. Usually the pianist receives tips in a jar or basket on or near the piano, especially from patrons requesting a song. Some piano bars feature a baby grand or grand piano surrounded by stools for patrons. Others have a bar surrounding the piano or keyboard.
In the 1950’s, top stars like Mike Nichols and Elaine May began their careers in New York City Piano Bars and Cabarets. Jimmy Durante started as a piano bar player, as did Billy Joel (his classic hit "Piano Man" is based on his experiences as a piano bar player in California).
In these intimate spaces, for performers to succeed, they had to be good and they had to know how to handle difficult people-alcohol turned a few customers into hecklers. However, those with talent and guts were able to earn some much needed attention.
By the 1980’s club owners were no longer willing to bear the cost of hiring performers and audiences don’t want to pay for unknown singers. Those with talent who couldn’t afford to pay their expenses from their own pocket were giving up their dream.
Don't Tell Mama has its roots in New York City, where it first opened as a Cabaret. The new owner, Pham's of Don’t Tell Mama in 1989 as a Piano Bar and Theater, hired unknown singers who couldn’t afford to perform in the cabaret rooms to work in the Piano Bar as Singing Bartenders.
It was 10 years ago that the owners moved their location from New York to Las Vegas. After a thrilling decade at 517 Fremont Street, they are now excited to have many more years at their new spot, in Neonopolis,
450 Fremont Street.