Its not often a member of an audience gets to join musicians on stage and be a part of a show.
And its not often audience members use a Guitar Hero controller to solo on Steve Miller Bands The Joker or to have a dance-off to Michael Jacksons Billie Jean. But they were part of the interactive program at the Dueling Pianos show starring Phyllis Tilley and Jorge Ramirez at Joint Base Lewis-McChords AFC Arena June 14.
There was no prepared playlist for the evening.
Instead of just being a show where everybody sits and watches, we want people to actually get involved, sing along and clap along, Tilley said. We like to get people on stage to do silly things.
Early in the show Rosemary Chambers was sitting with her friends in the audience when Ramirez handed her a tambourine to play during a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrds Sweet Home Alabama. Later on during a cover of The Joker, David Lamb, a retired Army sergeant, volunteered to perform a mock guitar solo with a video game controller.
I knew nobody would get up there and do it, Lamb said. Its all about having fun.
During the performance the pianists searched for someone to show off their dance moves on stage to the rhythms of Billie Jean. It took a few minutes, but Staff Sgt. Brian Monbeck and Maj. Carlos Peña of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division were both volunteered by their wives; or as Monbeck said, We were volun-told, pretty much.
Throughout the night both pianists played popular songs requested by the crowd, including Elton Johns Rocket Man, Johnny Cashs Ring of Fire and Taylor Swifts Trouble. There were current country songs, classic rock tunes and a few hip-hop hits performed by the two pianists.
Were talking the 1970s to 2013, Peña said. Thats a lot to retain.
With a mental catalog of songs that spanned genres and decades, Tilley said they were prepared to play any style the crowd desired even songs by the heavy-metal band, Metallica.
Surprisingly, we can do them on the piano, Tilley said.
The crowd demographics change with every show, and the energy modulated with each audiences interaction with the music.
It just depends since its all request, Ramirez said. You dont know what youre going to get.
You have to feel them out and see what theyre liking, Tilley said.
More than 120 people attended the first Dueling Pianos show at JBLM. This year the Armys Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation scheduled several military bases to host the show. Since January, the Dueling Pianos show has played at about 15 different installations.