For musician Andy Anderson, the pandemic temporarily squelched his decade-long gigs with the Dueling Pianos. However the energetic and multi-talented musician and performer focused on recording four albums instead.
Anderson first began playing drums at age 7. At age 11, he knew he wanted to be a musician after listening to Freddie Mercury of Queen.
“Freddie had passed away, and I saw a TV special and his music video. I became infatuated with him, and something sparked. It changed my life,” he says.
As a result, he learned how to play a cheap four-string bass guitar, then learned how to play lead guitar and a Radio Shack keyboard.
“Growing up, we had no money. I learned how to do all the music and instruments myself. It basically paid off, as I had no life as a teenager,” he says.
He lived in Nashville for 10 years, performing as a session musician. He returned to Iowa. In 2009, he and Mike Leeds were offered a gig at the Piano Bistro. Two of their piano players had quit, and they were looking for a replacement.
“I’d never done it before,” he says. “I was nervous.”
However, the duo caught fire, and they quickly learned. Since then, he and Leeds have played hundreds of venues in the Midwest. Their audience includes kindergarteners to “drunk adults.”
Their dueling pianos act is part comedy and pure entertainment, something Anderson thrives on.
“We’re like Chris Farley and David Spade. It’s a constant interaction, playing four hours of all requests, and you have no idea in advance what you’re going to play,” he says. “Any song I hear on the radio, I can play note for note. I don’t know how I do it.”
He’s done a popular Billy Joel and Elton John piano duo tribute with Tony Bohnenkamp (of Pianopalooza) complete with full costumes. One of his favorite songs is Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“I never get tired of it. Once people hear it, they become a kid,” he says.
As the pandemic halted performances, Anderson dusted off his 100-plus songs he’s written over two decades. He rewrote and recorded in a studio he and Leeds co-own, The Rock Shop in Huxley. For the albums, he’s the sole band, playing all the instruments and singing, resulting in four albums.
The first streaming album, “Conversations and Accusations,” is a pop, rock and upbeat album — a Queen-type production, complete with harmonizing.
Subsequent albums include diverse musical genres including acoustic Americana, a Beatles-type tribute and piano-led album with influences by Elton John.
Anderson hopes to perform original or piano music soon.
“My passion is performing,” he says. “It’s not about being famous. It’s about doing what you love.” ♦