By Dave Hoffenberg
“Sing us a song you’re the piano man.
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright,” sang Billy Joel.
Brad Morgan is the piano man I’m referring to and you can catch him the next few weekends at Killington’s new piano bar, Charity’s 1887 Saloon. If Morgan is not available, Charity’s has fill-in players and you can catch them all every Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m. Requests are welcome and sing-a-longs are encouraged.
Morgan has been at Charity’s the past few weekends and said, “It’s a charming tavern bar with a high ceiling and lots of wood which makes the acoustics decent. The fact that the piano is on the floor, I feel like I’m playing in my living room with people there as opposed to being on a stage in front of people. It’s a much more intimate thing.”
In speaking with Morgan, it was interesting for me because I got a Killington/Rutland history lesson within the interview. Morgan (63) has been playing in Killington with different projects since 1969. He first played at the Sugar Shack which is now the Pickle Barrel. Both the Barrel and Charity’s were originally owned by Jack Giguere and now both owned by Chris Karr.
He can play all the great hits from the 1960s through the 80s. “I know some newer things than that but it’s not my forte.” His repertoire includes The Beatles, Beach Boys, Doobie Brothers, Rolling Stones Soul, Motown, Ojays, Spinners and piano-centric stuff like Billy Joel, Elton John and Leon Russel. That is just a small sample because his song book has hundreds of songs.
Morgan can play the guitar, too, but said, “I’m not good enough to play in front of anybody.” His specialty is piano, organ and synthesizer. He added, “I was the first guy in Rutland to have an ARC synthesizer and the first guy to sell Moog synthesizers.” He worked at the biggest stereo store in Vermont, which was in Rutland across from the post office.
Morgan has bounced around a bit growing up. He was born in Northfield, Vermont, and then moved to Litchfield, Connecticut, when he was 1, back to Rutland when he was 6, out to Cleveland, Ohio, when he was 16 and back to Rutland when he was 18. He has five siblings, but he’s the only one who took up roots in Rutland. His father, Donald, was a minister at Grace Congregational from 1961-1971. His cousin Jonathan was my minister at First Church in Glastonbury, Connecticut, when I was in high school.
He started on the piano at age 6 and had his first singing performance in Kindergarten. He sang solos in elementary school and continued on in high school. “I’ve been in music most of my life.” He first started playing in bands when he was 13 in 1969 with the band Cat Dixon.
“A lot of the places I played in Killington are gone or have changed hands and names,” Morgan said.
Morgan is the keyboardist for Satin and Steel, a 10-piece band that has been Rutland’s hottest horn band since 1971. That band was started by Bill Comstock and it includes most of the original members. Morgan joined in 1973 after graduating high school in Cleveland.
They first played at The Broken Ski, now Outback Pizza. They also toured around New England on the club circuit. One of their Rutland staples was the 19th Green, which was in Center Rutland where Trader Rick’s is now. That bar was big from the late 60s to mid-70s and was Rutland’s premiere band spot.
It had bands five nights a week. You can catch Satin and Steel a lot in the Rutland area next summer.
About five times a year, Morgan plays with Bob Stannard and Those Dangerous Bluesmen. He also plays with Blue Jay Way – catch them New Year’s Eve at Sam’s