Menard's pianists still get unexpected reactions

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- When you think about a piano music, you probably picture a dimly lit theatre, all attention on the pianist, or maybe a high-end department store around the holidays.

That's not the case with one popular southeast Wisconsin venue, the last place you would expect beautiful piano music might be a store like the Menard's in Waukesha.

"I love to talk to people, play for people entertain them, and this is perfect," said one of Waukesha Menard's current pianists Jackie Oakes. The store employs more than a dozen at times.

She said being a musician runs in the family.

"It kind of goes every other generation and I've had the music bug since I could walk," said Oakes.

Oakes plays at church and elsewhere, but said playing at the top of the escalator in Menards part time is very different, as not everyone is expecting it.

"That's the great thing about playing in this kind of setting is that it's very open and inviting all at the same time," said Oakes.

General manager Mike Pacoha says all their two-story locations feature pianists as a way to set them apart.

"Something on top of the two-story store something unique to the two-story stores is what he wanted to do to create a different shopping experience," described Pacoha, who says reactions to it are very interesting, "we had a couple that was out here dancing to the music, which was kind of a different I've never saw that before."

Oakes says she picks music she knows people will recognize and enjoy.

"The thing that I really enjoy playing is movie music," said Oakes, "I've done the main theme from The Fellowship of the Ring from Lord of the Rings, and I had a guy come up the escalator and came around and he said, 'you just warmed my heart' and put something in [my tip bowl] and just kept on walking"

"I played another piece from the end of the movie The Lion King and I had a somebody who was kind of singing along and she remembered the movie and it was nostalgic for her," said Oakes.

She says piano enables her to play music from different genres and time periods.

"I feel like I reached the most people playing the piano. So in that respect, it is my favorite [instrument]," said Oakes.

For Oakes, a venue like Menard's lets her explore the unexpected.

"I was playing All of Me by John Legend. And I had two ladies come around here and they were going to go downstairs and they were singing the song and having a good time," said Oakes, "that made me really happy."  

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