Great balls of fire! On a dismal Sunday evening at the Island’s 23rd Station Piano Bar, a young man sauntered up to the piano and stole the night.
If the genes of P.T. Barnum and Jerry Lee Lewis had been used to clone a prodigy and that talented entertainer landed along the Gulf Coast, Todd and Tommy at 23rd Street found him. With looks somewhere between Tom Cruise and Josh Groban, crowd-captivating Sean Cowin tickled the ivories for over four hours. Not only did he play song after song, but he flat-out entertained and had the crowd in the palms of talented hands for the full four hours.
The owners of 23rd St. Station Piano Bar were looking for something new and different to fill their Sunday night venue and, after listening to many devoted patrons, they came up with “Sing Along Sundays” as a new attempt to bring a good time to the Island. Already becoming well known for the excellent piano players that take to the stage on various nights, Sunday afternoons needed something fresh, fun and upbeat. With karaoke, bingo and drag becoming pretty much passé around the Island it was time for something new. Bringing piano music and sing-along fun to the club seemed to be the ticket for the Sunday slot; the patrons can sit and talk, hear each other and not be drowned out by screeching karaoke or the “illusionists” gyrating to loud tunes and reaching for dollars.
“I have not had this much fun in gay bar in years” said one patron visiting the bar that afternoon. He was from Houston and as he left, said, “All I can say is, wow! I will be back and bring friends, for sure.”
So who is Sean Cowin, the new “Face of Sundays” at the Station? The 24-year-old performer hails from the “Show Me” state of Missouri — and show you, he does! Raised in a religious family in St. Louis, Cowin was always involved in music and performing for others.
Around age seven he took up the piano and found his instrument. He credits his grandparents for introducing him to the lively music of Jerry Lee Lewis around that same time.
Along the way and with his family he listened to gospel and great “oldies” like Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and other musicians that filled his head with ideas and a desire to perform.
“I grew up in the church, always performing and entertaining the crowd. It just came natural,” Cowin said.
Studying at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee and Missouri State, music and teaching became his vocation. Cowin studied jazz, voice and vocal performance, as well as music education.
When asked about role models that have influenced him along the way and who he listened to most, he is quick to respond, “Hall and Oates, Billy Joel, Ray Charles and Jerry Lee are my favorites, but there are others.”
His repertoire seems limitless as he proves effortlessly diving into each request handed him or shouted out from the crowd.
While focusing on jazz in college and thinking there just might be a career in music and entertaining, he had an epiphany.
“There is not much money or options in just playing jazz,” he said. “There must be something I can do. Using the music combined with my love of performing and entertaining, it all came together. I love of seeing the crowd’s reaction to my performing.”
His favorite songs to play are from the ’70s and ’80s, rhythm and blues, soul, gospel and jazz. During his performance Cowin sprinkles the selections with a few well-loved country and western songs, as well. It is like his hands and fingers are alive as his eyes sparkle and his tousled hair falls forward.
When things could get no better on that particular evening, he jumped up onto the piano bench, bent over and beat out “Great Balls of Fire” in true Jerry Lee Lewis style. This brought the crowd to their feet, clapping and calling out. In between songs and sometimes during, there is great banter and comedy used to connect with the audience.
By day and when not performing at a venue, Sean teaches music in the Bay area. He especially enjoys playing golf when he can work it in and spending time with his two dogs, a boxer and a husky, Eliza and Avery.
For some time now, the musician has been performing Friday and Saturday nights at Rocky’s Piano Bar in Webster, where he has drawn quite a following and reputation. He is a regular face at Rocky’s and the Galveston crowd hopes he will become the face for Sing Along Sundays at 23rd Street Station Piano Bar. What better way to spend a fun Sunday afternoon and evening than listening to live, hand-clapping, toe-tapping and ivory-tickling music provided by a young, talented and versatile performer. And he’s not bad on the eyes at all! Check him out and see what the fuss is about.
For bookings and information call 512-785-373 or firstname.lastname@example.org