During the First Yell concert in September at Reed Arena, singer-songwriter Roger Creager stepped away from the center-stage microphone and sat down at a nearby keyboard for a few songs. The crowd erupted when Creager pounded the familiar opening notes of Journey's Don't Stop Believin'.
"That's the perfect example of a great piano bar song," Creager says. "Something that people feel a little funny about singing along to -- especially Texas country fans. But they're drinking and they just kind of let it all go."
The Texas A&M graduate will make that the order of the evening tonight, as he performs a piano bar show at The Tap. It's just his third such show, he says, but the idea is an old one. He started out playing piano in a country band, and wanted his early concerts to have "the feel and intensity" of a piano bar.
"All these years later, the thought finally hit me -- 'Why don't I do a full-blown piano bar?'" he says. "It's a little different because we bring the full band in, and they play on most of the songs, but it actually just turbo-charges it into something that's really hard to explain. Honest to God, I think it's like the best piano bar you've ever seen, times 10."
Creager, whose latest single Road Show is in the top 10 of the Texas Music Chart, says covers will dominate the concert, including songs by such musician pals as Stoney LaRue, Wade Bowen and Jason Boland. The rest will be "drinking, sing-along songs" by the likes of Hank Williams Jr., Bon Jovi, Billy Joel and John Denver.
Speaking of drinking songs, Creager recently returned from a trip to Ireland, where he performed several shows alongside fellow artists Josh Abbott, William Clark Green, Bart Crow, Bleu Edmondson, Rich O'Toole and "about 200 Texans."
"It was an absolute blast," he says. "We went from one pub to the other. They open at 10:30 in the morning there. The Irish will never take over the world unless they can do it by 10:30, because that's when the pubs open and they start having pints."
As for his holiday plans, there won't be much of a break. A run of piano bar shows and a concert at Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth -- "one of the premier gigs in the world," he says -- will keep him busy.
"We're not taking much time off, but we are doing some really cool stuff," Creager says. "It's exciting for me. I'd rather do that than fish, and that's a mouthful."