2009-06-13 / Top News

Grammy Winning Pianist Darryl Dybka Joins Iroquois Hotel

Music Producer Has Varied Background
By Jane Alexander

Darryl Dybka plays his nightly show at Iroquois Hotel. Darryl Dybka plays his nightly show at Iroquois Hotel. Upon first meeting Darryl Dybka, one might not suspect he is a Grammy award-winning music producer who has toured in numerous countries and been recorded on several CDs. He is a pleasant, humble person who doesn't even think to mention his accolades until asked.

"It's not about me, it's about the music," he said.

Mr. Dybka is a pianist at the Hotel Iroquois.

He was born in Detroit to a father who led a polka band and encouraged him to learn the accordion. He took accordion lessons for three years and taught himself several other instruments, including the trumpet and flute, ultimately deciding that the piano was what he wanted to play.

He played keyboards for Frank Zappa on his midwest "Zoots Allures" tour in the 1970s.

"It was a wild experience," Mr. Dybka said. "Kind of spectacular. Hundreds of people are flashing cameras and screaming so loud. Frank Zappa was a very nice guy. I was impressed by his grasp of music and composition skills."

Mr. Dybka then joined the Earl Klugh Band, playing at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and touring in Japan and England. He has also played on several albums.

"Carnegie Hall was very intimidating," he said. "Look at how many talented people have played there. I had to have a mental conversation with myself. I said I simply had to go out there and play."

From 1984 to 1993, he worked with Chet Atkins, touring and recording several records. He also co-produced the Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed duet album, "Sneakin' Around," which won a 1992 Grammy for Best Instrumental Record, and he was nominated for an Emmy in music by the Michigan Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1998.

From there he went to Nashville, Tennessee, where he played at the Nashville City Club sporadically throughout the 1990s and steadily from 2003 to 2008.

"I like being a one-man band," Mr. Dybka said.

He played at Grand Hotel last year and then played as a piano soloist on a cruise ship for five months, going to Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia in the South Pacific.

Now finding his way to Hotel Iroquois, he plays every night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and will play at Saturday brunch from 10 a.m. to noon in July and August. He plays pop, jazz, and some classical piano.

"It's a beautiful experience for me," Mr. Dybka said. "It's a beautiful hotel, and it's wonderful to sit at a Kawai Baby Grand and stare out at the lake."

Mrs. Barnwell is pleased to have Mr. Dybka at the Iroquois.

"He's fantastic, and his music is fantastic," said Becki Barnwell, the hotel's food and beverage director. "Aside from all of his accolades, he's just an incredibly friendly guy. We hope he'll be with us for a long time."

Mr. Dybka has also been working on several albums. His latest, "Curiosity Dance," features such musicians as Viktor Krauss, Gene Dunlap, Jr., Alison Krauss, Chet Atkins, Larry Barris, Larry Carlton, Earl Klugh, Marcus Belgrave, Kirk Whalum, and Gary Burton.

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