Jason Marion has been a professional pianist for over a decade. By day, he sings and writes his own songs. At night, Marion stars in dueling piano shows.
Marion and fellow pianist Greg Zema will perform a live dueling piano show from 7 to 9 p.m. this Friday at Mullins Bar and Grill. The event is free, but attendees can reserve seats for the 5:30 to 7 p.m. show by purchasing a prime rib dinner for $49. Nonprofits Coastside Hope and Boys and Girls Club of the Coastside will raffle a foursome of golf donated by Half Moon Bay Golf Links.
For those not familiar with a dueling piano show, the music is chosen by the audience, and dancing and group singing is encouraged. A tip earns a song request, and priority goes to the highest bidder. Each pianist takes his turn as audience members try to outbid one another for each song.
Marion is a regular performer at Johnny Foley’s Irish House in San Francisco, and has worked with Zema for nearly a decade. He enjoys the challenge of adapting so many styles of music to the piano.
“You can hear everything from Britney Spears to Metallica to an Irish folk song,” Marion explained. “Obviously, ‘Sweet Caroline’ is done every night.”
The music spans decades and runs across genres, which is a testament to both Marion’s and Zema’s versatility. Occasionally, they will play simultaneously, but mostly they alternate, which allows a longer night of continuous music. If both musicians are completely stumped on a request, they’ll offer the money back or ask for a different song.
“It really depends on the audience, if they want to hear the hits, like the stuff they hear on the radio, or want to really challenge the piano players,” Marion said. “Every night is different for us.”