Play a song, piano man

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By Rebecca Rose

Ryan Luchuck doesn’t mind that hardly anyone knows him by name. He’s fine with being known as the piano man at The Madison Pub, just as long as you buy his new CD.

It’s been just over a year since Luchuck packed his bags and headed for Toronto to pursue a career in music. But his transformation from mild mannered musician to pop superhero did not happen overnight. Like most struggling musicians, he found himself broke in the big city and wound up living with his older sister.

He was working at a Blockbuster when he found his salvation in the form of a newspaper classified. The advertisement said, ‘Piano player wanted for bar.’ Though playing piano for a bunch of drunken university students was not his dream job, Luchuck donned his trademark toque and went to the audition anyway.

He can now be seen pounding out your favourites Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at The Madison Pub. He plays all of the piano essentials like Billy Joel’s Piano Man as well as some more unconventional choices such as Weezer’s El Scorcho. Ryan is a favorite among Madison regulars.

Luchuck has been the man behind the piano at The Madison Pub, located on Madison Ave., north of Bloor Street Avenue, for the past two years. Now he’s branched out with his self-titled CD and an upcoming show Nov. 26 at the funky indie club B-side, located above the Fez boutique on Peter Street.

Although most of his time is now spent in front of the piano, the first instrument he learned was the guitar. He didn’t even touch a piano until high school, where he taught himself how to play during lunch breaks.

At 24, Luchuck’s dreams seem to be taking shape. But make no mistake; it has not been easy. With no manager to guide him along the way, Luchuck has been running a one-man show. He has been busy promoting his CD and auditioning members of his band.

“(The CD) was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said.

Released in July, his CD has been enjoying moderate success. Sam the Record Man, the only store to carry the disc, was sold out within the first month. Toronto music magazine Exclaim also praised Luchuck in a recent review.

“There’s nothing like a man and his piano,” the reviewer wrote.

Luchuck’s music is an eclectic mix of upbeat drum beats, catchy tunes and (of course) rocking piano. But be forewarned, you will be singing these songs for days. The CD also gives listeners a glimpse into the piano man’s personal life.

“These songs are extremely personal,” he said.

Even with all of his success, Luchuck won’t be leaving the Madison any time soon. He plans on staying put for at least another year.

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