An evening at a piano bar is a little bit like musical theater improv in that every night is significantly different. People come back to their favorite piano bars because of that difference--and because whoever is playing the eighty-eights must be a master at setting each evening into motion. In the case of Charles Lindberg at Danny's Grand Sea Palace (every Sunday thru Wednesday from 8pm to midnight), the mastery is right there in the numbers: He's soon to celebrate his 25th year as a piano bar artiste.
When Lindberg takes off at the piano, there's never any doubt that his destination is the Land of Great Music. A superlative pianist, his style is smooth even as his playing is deceptively complex. We dropped in on a quiet Tuesday evening and enjoyed his solo work, his deft accompaniment of patrons at the open mike, and his thrilling collaboration with singer/bartender Scott Ailing (who leaves the bartending behind to sing exclusively with Lindberg every Sunday evening).
Unlike most other cabaret piano bars in town, the set-up at Danny's allows the restaurant patrons to hear the music along with the folks clustered around the bar. Because of this, Lindberg and company must provide a broad range of entertainment. Lindberg is consistently up to the task, even when he takes on a request to play Billy Joel's "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant." No complaints from anyone in this Thai eatery; his rendition had plenty of hot sauce. And when he chooses to sing along to his own accompaniment, Lindberg offers a pleasing tenor that is very easy on the ears.
Lindberg has a loyal following--and a talented one, at that. When his regulars come up to the microphone to sing, you will not cringe. Quite the contrary; consider the open mike here as an additional pleasure for you at no extra charge. On an early weekday evening, when the place isn't too busy, those of you who want to exercise your own talents as a solo singer will find it easier to get a chance to do so. And, of course, singing along is always welcome.
On our most recent trip to Danny's, we were especially lucky that it was Scott Ailing's evening to sing (and not to have to alternately pour drinks). Ailing has a remarkably bright and crisp tenor that can soar along with Lindberg's dramatic musical flights. He's a power balladeer with remarkable control over his voice; Ailing sings with a wild abandon but the notes are always there, and he is just as adept when delivering a tender tune. Most thrilling of all are those occasions when Lindberg and Ailing perform duets; their voices meld together in the fire of their combined passion when, for example, they sing "How Could I Ever Know?" from The Secret Garden.
Charles Lindberg is but one half of the piano bar team at Danny's: The great Jerry Scott plays there every Thursday, Friday (8pm to midnight, both days), and Saturday (9pm to 1am). So, every night of the week, Danny's truly sings.