Jeff Coleron and Rhiannon Kruse didn’t expect to play their grand pianos in the garage. But, then again, no one expected the pandemic.
The husband and wife from Lynnwood live streamed their Dueling Pianos with Jeff and Rhiannon show from their garage the Friday before Gov. Jay Inslee issued his stay-home order. They thought it’d be a one-off.
Not so. Coleron and Kruse have been singing and playing all-request shows every Friday that can be streamed on YouTube or Facebook. The next show at 6 p.m. Friday will be their 11th. They receive song requests via a dedicated request line.
“People are having a really hard time with what’s going on right now,” Kruse said. “(We’re trying) to bring some joy and music into these people’s homes.”
Coleron and Kruse, who married in 2008, have been playing their Dueling Pianos with Jeff and Rhiannon show together for 15 years. They mostly book corporate events and private parties, but they also perform at the Marysville Opera House and Tulalip Resort Casino.
The couple met when they were performing for the Disney Cruise Line. They soon realized they could combine their musical talents and launch a new show. Dueling pianos seemed to be the perfect fit: They both had been playing the piano since childhood.
“So many people saw us on a cruise ship years ago and want to see us again, but they can’t go to a private event,” Kruse said. “These streaming shows have allows them to see us again.”
After two years performing at sea, they decided it was time to settle on land. They have a 15-month-old son named Desmond, who was named after a lyric in the Beatles song “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” from the White Album.
Coleron estimates they can play about 500 songs. As a comparison, The Great American Songbook, the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the 1920s through the ’50s, is comprised of 275 tracks.
With the quarantine, they’ve had more time to practice together and add new hits to their song catalog.
Coleron, 47, and Kruse, 42, perform about 60-70 shows per year. While half of those keep them in Washington, the other half has them traveling all over the U.S. and Europe. But the coronavirus outbreak forced the cancelation of most of their events for the year.
As the cancelations rolled in, Coleron and Kruse set up a broadcasting studio in the middle of their three-stall garage. Their grand pianos stand head-to-head in one stall. Husband and wife perform flanked by their cars. Coleron said the garage acoustics add to their sound: “It actually sounds really, really nice.”
Just as they do at the Marysville Opera House, Coleron and Kruse interact with their audience. Not only do they perform song requests, they get the audience to clap and sing along with them. They might even stop the music to tell a joke.
“The call-in requests keeps that off-the-cuff, every-show-is-different, we-never-know-what-we’re-going to-play type feeling,” Coleron said.
Their most popular requests during quarantine have included Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Coleron said they dedicate each song they play to the requester.
All of their live-streamed shows are an hour to an hour and a half long. But no matter how hard they try, they never get to all of the requests.
“We get hundreds of requests. We try to do as many as we can,” Kruse said. “If we hit all of them, it would probably be a four hour show.”
Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; email@example.com; @sarabruestle.
If you stream
Dueling Pianos with Jeff and Rhiannon is performed weekly at 6 p.m. each Friday in a live stream on Facebook and YouTube. Watch the show at www.facebook.com/jeffandrhiannon and tinyurl.com/youtubejeffandrhiannon. Text 206-400-9764 to request a song. If you’d like to donate to the show, send funds via Paypal to www.paypal.me/duelingpianoslive or via Venmo at @duelingpianoslive.