Watch any respectable Western and there’s always at least one saloon scene with a piano man tinkling away at the piano. The Alisal’s saloon piano man, for over 50 years, is Bill Powell. Bill has been an important part of The Alisal experience since 1968. Back then, by day, Bill was a school teacher (later a school principal) and in the evenings he would take piano requests in The Alisal Oak Room. By the mid 80’s Bill had retired from his school job and focused all his energy on bringing his music to generations of Alisal guests. Bill loved playing piano so much that for a short time he spent his couple of nights off from The Alisal, going down to play piano at the distinguished Beverly Wilshire Hotel lounge in Los Angeles.
I love the warm atmosphere at The Alisal and getting to play for the guests.
- Bill Powell
Born in Santa Paula (just south east of Santa Barbara), Bill’s love of music began early. He started playing piano and stand-up bass when he was eight-years-old. When he came to college in Santa Barbara, his musical talents paid off as he joined the highly regarded I. Newton Perry Orchestra. The specialty of the orchestra was big band tunes and great American standards. Bill’s continued appreciation for upbeat classics has created the foundation for 50 harmonious years at the Ranch. With a long history of tickling the ivories it is not surprising that there have been many exciting memories. Bill recalls the night actor Fess Parker and his wife came in with the famous singer Rosemary Cloney for an impromptu sing-along. Bill also recalls teaming up with McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc for a few musical numbers.
While playing with celebrities makes for good stories, when we asked Bill what his favorite memories are of playing at The Alisal, he didn’t hesitate, “I love the warm atmosphere at The Alisal and getting to play for the guests”, said Bill.
Many a regular has walked into the Oak Room to be greeted by Bill with their favorite song. Bill also enjoys taking requests. His knowledge of classics and pop hits never fails to impress those who hear him.
Bill’s roots at The Alisal are deep and personal. He met his wife at the Ranch, he played for Ranch notables like wrangler and poet Jake Copass and above all he has made countless friends among Ranch regulars. Not long ago a big party was thrown to celebrate Bill’s 50th anniversary of playing at the Ranch.
If you haven’t had a chance to hear Bill play we invite you to mosey into the Oak Room, order up a refreshing beverage and sit a spell. It’s therapy for the soul.