Work: Nye's newcomer

SARAH HARPER | Updated 4/4/2013

Pianist Becca Dougherty had never set foot in Nye’s before being hired last fall.

Becca Dougherty at Nye’s Polonaise Room
Photo by Bre McGee

 Q: You’ve been playing music all your life. How did you get in at Nye’s?

A: I do dueling pianos, as well. One of the patrons at Nye’s was there seeing another player and apparently liked what she heard. I went into the bathroom and she followed me in there and said, “You gotta audition for Nye’s, you’d be perfect there!” Well, I’d heard of it and I knew the stories, but I’d never been there.

Q: What were your first impressions of the place?

A: It was like I was home. You know, the décor? I was raised in the country. I just walked in and, seeing all the dark seats and all the lighting and everything, I felt really comfortable.

Q: How tough of an act to follow is legendary Nye’s piano woman “Sweet Lou” Snider?

A: Well, it’s probably a good thing I did not see her play. But she came in on my very first night to support me and give me some tricks of the trade — the transpose button is your friend, don’t worry about intros. I was intimidated a little because at Nye’s, it’s the standards. It’s the Frank Sinatra songs and all that, and that was not my forté. I was doing rock ’n’ roll. That’s also what intrigues me about the gig. I’m bound and determined to learn every song in Lou’s book.

Q: What’s the song that people always want to sing but very few have the chops for?

A: Some of these Broadway tunes and some of the old standards — I like to say they have a lot of hair on ’em.

Q: Have any notable singers stopped by since you’ve started?

A: Amy Klobuchar came in the day after the elections with all the people who worked on her campaign, and they filled up the whole area. Ms. Klobuchar did not sing on a microphone, but she sat at the table and sang along with everybody else and had a ball. And then the Channel 4 traffic gal — she came out with her parents one night. You never know who comes out.

Q: What’s the best part of the gig?

A: When people come in and they’re absolutely fabulous, I get to throw a harmony on or maybe play a little differently. Musically, that’s a hoot. But it’s the faces of the people — they might not even be that good, but they try and they have fun. They get the room going and they get a chance to be the entertainer. That really melts my heart.

Becca Dougherty

Age: “I’m OK with it, I just don’t want the world to know.”

Job: Self-employed musician. Plays at Nye’s Polonaise Room Wed. & Thu. nights.

Employer: Nye’s.

Hire date: Fall 2012.

Education: Bachelor’s in broadcast communication from Winona State University.