Arizona Republic - Scottsdale Republic North - June 23, 2006 ...Article by Michelle Hoffman
PIANO MAN KOSTAKES A POPULAR DRAW WITH NORTHEAST VALLEY BAR CROWDS
The O Bar, sunk inside Mastro's Ocean Club, is not just for sipping martinis while waiting for a table
in the dining room. Maybe it started out that way. The wait list can top 300. But many descend into
the cavernous room Wednesday through Saturday to hear piano man Steve Kostakes play the kind
of songs that make you wish you hadn't quit those piano lessons when you were a kid.
"He's got a great voice," O Bar regular Mike Mendelson said as Kostakes performed Georgia on My Mind.
Kostakes starts the evening with Vince Guaraldi's Cast Your Fate to the Wind, and winds up his first set with Satin Doll. The pulse of activity is around the grand piano that doubles as a bar top. When you feel the music through the lid and sip on your cosmopolitan, it's practically guaranteed that you'll sing along to Fly Me to the Moon.
Playing exclusively by ear, Kostakes started playing along at home to commercial jingles when he was 3 years old. "There was a piano in our house," said Kostakes, who grew up on the south side of Chicago. "I just started playing it. My parents never forced me. My mother tried to encourage me to do other things as well."
Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue songwriting, got involved in blues music and toured the globe with East Coast blues band Roomful of Blues. The band played gigs like the Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland, which has seen the likes of piano titans Oscar Peterson, Diana Krall, Chick Corea and Dave Brubeck.
In 2000, Kostakes moved to Phoenix to be near his twin daughters, Katie and Jackie. He has played at the Pointe Hilton Resort, Lil' Ditty's, Maggiano's Italian Restaurant, Mastro's Steak House and Drinkwater's City Hall. To name a few.
Kostakes is a human jukebox. His repertoire extends beyond the standard Jimmy Buffett/Billy Joel paradigm with favorites like As Time Goes By, Cruella De Vil, Great Balls of Fire, Brown Eyed Girl and even Coldplay's Clocks, in which Kostakes pumps out the song's powerful and repetitive chords, delivering a burst of energy to the night.
Brenda Cook, a regular at the O Bar, gave Kostakes a kiss on the cheek. " He's so good," she said. "He's a wonderful performer."