For almost two years now, pianist Bryan Miller has spent his Sunday evenings at . The restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard hosts a night of $8 martinis and live music—everything from Broadway to Pop—each week, and locals aren't afraid to sing along.
Miller accompanies singers young and old, but predominately the latter, on the piano.
“I think the popularity of karaoke in recent years has had an effect on piano bars,” the Musical Martini Night host said. “I have had young singers come up to the piano and ask me where the screen is for them to read the lyrics.”
Miller remembers a time when piano bars were more numerous.
“When I started out in the '70s, there were a number of piano bars in West Hollywood,” said Miller. “The last place to present a piano bar with any sort of regularity was Capone’s in the late '90s. Interestingly enough, that was the site that O-Bar now occupies.”
O-Bar is just one of the piano bars where Miller has worked over the decades, but his passion for the art of singing began long before his first gig.
“I always loved it when someone in a movie would sit down at the piano and play a song and start to sing it,” Miller said. “And slowly the strings would come in, then the entire orchestra, and the whole scene would open up into a complete musical number. I wanted that to happen in real life.”
Miller is now making his dream a reality at O-Bar, and has found a following along the way.
“The fun, casual atmosphere Bryan creates makes you not only root for those brave souls who get up and perform, but makes you want to be one yourself,” said one attendee, Ben Caron. “He's the ultimate gentleman. A joy to watch and perform with.”
While he “never wanted to be a concert pianist,” Miller has mastered the art of sight-reading, so he said he is prepared for just about anything his patrons and performers throw at him.
“But don’t bring me anything too hard. I’m pretty good, but there’s a limit,” he said. “If you have music with chord symbols, that makes it easier. But if I don’t think I can play it, I will tell you.”
Miller also plays at piano bar nights on Wednesdays at The Other Side in Silver Lake and The Silver Rail in North Hollywood on Thursdays, but it is O-Bar's “undeniably elegant” environment that makes it a special venue for the busy musician.
“My style has always been casual when doing piano bar. I kind of think of it as though I’m working in my living room,” Miller said. “And O-Bar is one of the nicest living rooms I have ever had.”
are on Sundays from 7:30-11:30 p.m.