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  • Last modified 284 days ago (March 7, 2019)

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Dueling pianos get crowd on its feet

Staff writer

HiFi Productions’ dueling pianos stole the show Saturday when Marion Advancement Campaign’s banquet filled Marion Community Center ballroom.

“It’s been a great time,” economic development director Randy Collett said. “They’re really entertaining and they’re keeping the crowd here — that’s the main thing.”

Collett, one of the event’s organizers, was unsure how the act would be received.

“I’ve been to piano bars and I didn’t know what to expect from these guys,” he said. “They’re very good.”

The Wichita-based trio of pianists Dave Damm and Paul Bowen and drummer Ben Webster were on stage for two hours.

“Tonight was a great example of crowd involvement,” Damm said. “That’s our whole goal, interacting with the crowd, getting people clapping and singing. Occasionally, we’ll bring people up to do some kind of dance or something fun.”

Damm and Bowen took requests throughout.

“We know hundreds of songs apiece. Between the two players, we probably know 1,000 songs,” he said. “We don’t have a set list or anything. It’s just based on what people bring up.”

The musicians prepare by regularly adding songs to their repertoire.

“I try to learn a song every week,” Damm said. “As far as refreshing, playing the gigs every week and keeping active helps you with that, but I do go back and go over songs. Once a week, I’ll practice for a few hours and just go over different things.”

The group’s playlist Saturday varied from Johnny Cash to Sir Mix-a-lot and included fight songs from Kansas State University and the University of Kansas.

HiFi is booked most weekends. Crowds range from 50 to 1,200 with an average of 200 to 300.

Entertainment wasn’t the only portion of the event deemed a success. Even before the evening started, the dinner was a step ahead of last year.

With 110 tickets sold, all but one table at the ballroom was filled. The additional sales, up from 75 in 2018, significantly increased MAC’s fundraising.

“Every dime helps,” Collett said. “We’re not a wealthy organization by any stretch.”

Seven items, from a sausage array to tickets to a K-State basketball game, were auctioned, and each brought in around $300.

“I was surprised to see people hanging in there and making the bids they did,” Collett said.

Last modified March 7, 2019

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