Other than Broadway Show posters splashing color onto the dark walls, the Piano Room is not much to look other than the naked picture of Persephone (Goddess Queen of the Underworld) behind the bar. However, patrons don’t come to look; they come to listen.
Piano Room groupies close their eyes, and sometimes weep, while enjoying Broadway quality vocals and keyboards belted out by Heather Price, Brenda Smith, Dave McCubbin and patrons who have vocal chops.
McCubbin, as the anchor piano player, is a national treasure and member of the Kansas City Jazz Hall of Fame. His gift is his bottomless repertoire of jazz, blues, pop and rock songs that ooze from his keyboard and vocal chords like honey. McCubbin plays 95% of his 5,000 song list without sheet music.
Allen Stribling, who earned his stripes tickling the ivories on the Princess Cruise Line for several years, also entertains at the Piano Room. Stribling plays pop songs, standards, and show tunes and sings everything from Cole Porter to Led Zeppelin.
All this musical talent happens under one roof in a strip shop in South Kansas City behind a Church’s Chicken. The obscure location makes the music inside even sweeter and it’s delivered week after week for the price of a round of drinks. The Piano Room has never charged a cover so tip generously.
The bar is gay and senior friendly. It had a huge theatre crowd following in the 80s and 90s. Today people of all generations pack the Piano Room every weekend to drink, sing and listen to songs dating from the 1920s to modern day. Frequently requested songs include the Summer Wind, Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer and Wind Beneath my Wings, My Way, Send in the Clowns and Chances Are.
A Three-Owner Bar
From 1978 to 1999, Bill and Inge Walters owned the Piano Room (then called Inge’s Lounge). Those 21 years were the longest run of continuous bar ownership for a south Kansas City bar until the baton was passed to Dean Weiss in 1999.
Weiss had a riff with McCubbin who quit and didn’t return as a featured artist until Klos and her business partner Moe Mauzey took back the Piano Room in 2006.
Ginny’s Dive Bar Rap Sheet
Ginny learned early in her career that she couldn’t stand the confines of an office. So she left her school position and started cocktail waitressing in the ‘80s at Milton’s Tap Room. It was there she fell in love with jazz.
After Milton’s closed, she started working at Inge’s Lounge, until Dean Weiss took it over. She turned in her resignation to Weiss and moved onto to D.B. Cooper’s for a nine-year stint. Graduating from bartender to bar owner, she bought Inge’s Lounge in 2006 and brought it back into the black with her partner Mauzey.
Foraging for Food
The Piano Room doesn’t serve food, but you can grab a bite at Church’s Chicken, or Price Chopper next door and enjoy it at the bar.
If you move into regular status and befriend Ginny, she’ll give you access to the hot dishes she makes and serves in the back for select people. She loves feeding her friends and musicians and frequently brings spaghetti, casseroles and chili.
Food aside, the Piano Room will satiate your appetite for jazz and great vocals.
It’s show tune heaven and a gateway back into music that matters.
Games People Play
Tuesdays are game and puzzle night. Wednesdays are Open Mic Nights from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursdays are trivia night. The owner and waitresses put out food and chili free for the regulars frequently and several people have had their weddings and receptions in the lounge.
Karoke is a forbidden word at the Piano Room. Any one who takes the mic is a singer worth listening to and only Heather Price dons a headset so she can jump in to raise the bar of vocal excellence upon McCubbin’s or Stribling’s cue.
“We call it singing and slinging,” says Price. “We continue washing glasses, mixing drinks and ringing out tabs while we sing.”
The Piano Room
Kansas City MO 64114