In fact, out of a pool of perhaps seven contestants, nearly all of them were worthy of advancing, even if only the four best could do so.
Each contestant sang a tune chosen from a pool of famous ditties, like “I’ll Be There” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” before the 6:30 p.m. kickoff of River Rhythms, which drew around 300 people despite a grim forecast, blackening skies and a bit of rain. Lucille’s co-owner Ted Oliver accompanied all on piano.
Also judging in the first round were sound engineer Tom Fay and Brian Bernier of Lucille’s Rockin’ Pianos, which hosted the finals after River Rhythms wrapped at 9 p.m.
There, the competition was tight as the four finalists each rocked another tune and proved themselves all worthy. In the end, Jennifer Butters took the top spot with Alyssa Krueger second, Meghan Essig third and James Antony fourth.
In related news, Bernier tells us that Lucille’s is doing so well that he and Oliver are looking at reconfiguring the space to accommodate an extra 150 seats. They’re also looking at locations in Madison and out of state to open two more Lucille’s dueling piano bars.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.