It's been a while since Scott Morlock has played piano on Hilton Head Island. But it's not like he's gotten rusty.
Morlock made a name for himself during his 16 years on the island as the musical director and a performer for Main Street Youth Theatre. He also is one of the founders of the Electric Piano in Park Plaza, where he banged out any number of requests most nights of the week.
He moved to Mobile, Ala., about four years ago and opened Dahlia's Electric Piano Hall, a dueling piano bar. He also works as the artistic director for the Southern Alabama Family Theater Co.
He's returning to play June 7-9 at the Electric Piano.
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Morlock called from his new home to discuss how life has changed -- and stayed the same.
Question. Why Mobile?
Answer. For Hilton Head, I played in that bar four nights or so and I thought it was time to look at other stuff. It wasn't anything bad, just try something new. We chose Mobile because there's about 300,000 people and no piano bar of any kind. We felt we were bringing something unique.
Q. Do you miss Hilton Head?
A. We lived there for 16 years. I met my wife there. I miss it a lot. We have lots of friends there. I felt like I was getting older and I needed to look for something new.
Q. What's it like playing in a piano bar in Mobile versus Hilton Head?
A. We get a bit more requests for country songs. We don't get Jimmy Buffett much. You always get Elton John, Billy Joel, "Don't Stop Believing" no matter where you go. It's funny, I used to play at San Miguel's on Hilton Head. We literally carried a baby grand out there. The reason I did that is because of the difference in requests I'd get when I had an actual piano versus a keyboard. When you get a keyboard, people think you're a deejay. When people saw the piano, they would request "Walking in Memphis" or Elton John. You'd get more piano-appropriate requests.
Q. Are you constantly learning new songs?
A. We don't learn everything that comes out. But to give you an example, I'm learning "Call Me Maybe" (by Carly Rae Jepsen) because that's the request we get. The only thing I stay away from is rap. A lot of guys do it. Some guys do the mouth beat box thing. I have like three songs where I'll sing a rap song and do ballad chords with it. That pretty much stops the rap requests.
Q. How many songs do you know now?
A. I'm in the 5,000 song range. I used to travel with these giant books full of music, but now I can scan it into an iPad. The thing is, I know the music, but sometimes you forget the words, like, "What's the third verse to 'Boys of Summer'?" Of course, I'm not pulling up lyrics to "Piano Man."