This summer, Mondays needn’t be mundane — at least not at Tropix on the Mile in Freeport, where dueling piano-show musicians J.D. Leonard and Frank Stainkamp go head-to-head performing requests from the crowd.
“It’s very interactive,” says Mike Danon, Tropix’s co-owner. “Crowd participation is encouraged.”
Tropix has the feeling of being at a vacation resort, with its cabanas, lounge areas with wicker couches and fire towers, plus umbrella tables on a raised deck overlooking the canal. Patrons get a list of tunes with their menus. Between nibbling on sushi and flatbread pizza, they write requests on Post-it notes that get delivered to the stage.
Leonard and Stainkamp have been performing together for many years, and it shows. Situated on opposite sides of the stage facing each other, they take turns on the mic ping-ponging back and forth. Leonard delivers a spot-on Dave Matthews Band cover of “What Would You Say” and Stainkamp gets the crowd singing with Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.”
The duo, accompanied by a drummer and a saxophonist, plays a wide range of music, from country to ’70s rock to Motown to ’80s pop.
“It’s kind of all over the place. We like to jump around from genre to genre,” says Leonard, of Medford, fresh off hitting all the high notes on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” “It’s the most fun when you get people involved.”
A group celebrating a birthday requests the theme song of the NBC sitcom “Friends” (“I’ll Be There for You” by the Rembrandts) and the musicians oblige.
“We are down for anything,” says Leonard, who has his own solo career as well as playing in Eagles and Paul McCartney tribute bands. “We invite people to have a drink and sing along. It opens the line of communication.”
Back on the mic, Leonard whipped out a ’90s flashback, Barenaked Ladies’ hit, “If I Had a $1,000,000”; meanwhile, Stainkamp went total ’70s with AM chestnut “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass. Leonard picked up the pace with Blues Traveler’s “Runaround,” followed by his original country-tinged single, “Just Drive.”
Jon Roitman, 22, arrives with his friend Sean Mohr, 22, both from Seaford, and they get comfortable at the end of the outdoor bar.
“I come down here every couple weeks to wind down,” says Roitman. “In the summer, the Nautical Mile is the place to go.”
Over a plate of fried calamari and a couple of Coronas, they choose a Zac Brown Band tune, “Chicken Fried.” The reason?
“That song has got nice summer vibes,” says Roitman.
In the adjacent lounge, a reunion is going on. Three women who grew up in Massapequa Park catch up over cocktails.
“I like the long happy hour [drinks are half-price from noon to 7 p.m. weekdays] and the crowd is cool and laid back,” says Nina Chmiel, 59, of East Rockaway. “On the weekends, it gets very young.”
When it comes to a request, she shouts out, “I’m down for any John Mellencamp song!”
Deep into the final set, the band brings in guest singer Karen Kateridge, 53, of Ronkonkoma, who belts out Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” as well as Melissa Etheridge’s “I Want to Come Over.”
“Once in a while, I’ll drop in,” Kateridge says. “It’s always a good time playing with these guys.”
The band gets a charge out of the collaboration.
“We love bringing up our musician friends,” says Leonard. “It keeps everything fun and fresh.”
Dueling Pianos with J.D. & Frank
WHEN | WHERE 6-10 p.m. Mondays through Labor Day at Tropix on the Mile, 395 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport
INFO 516-623-8767, tropixonthemile.com