How many songs do you know? Because one of Mitch Peters’ favorite things is called “stump the piano player.” Peters said that he usually knows most of the songs requested.
Peters played in the Sandcastles Lounge at the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort from 1985 until New Year’s Eve 2000. He has been on Marco since 1972.
“I’m like a tradition on Marco,” Peters said. “A legend in my own mind.”
Anuj Sood, beverage manager, said regulars and snowbirds came in requesting Peters. So, because of popular demand, Peters returned to the Sandcastles Lounge on Sept. 1.
“I was here for his last time and I’ve got to be here for his first time at the Hilton,” Pat Raney said as she sat at the piano bar.
A Marco resident for 28 years, Raney said that she has seen Peters play many times. She said he has a nice beat and a wonderful personality.
Peters has been playing the piano for 50 years and he didn’t stop playing when he was away from the Hilton. He played at private parties and conventions. He said that he knew a lot of the people who came to see him on his first night back at the Hilton.
One Marco couple, Dick and Trudy Medura, know Peters because 15 years ago they came to the Hilton to celebrate closing on their house. Peters had a raffle and the couple won a bottle of champagne. They were glad to see him back because his music is easy listening. David Straitiff, who sat with the couple, has known Peters for 12 years.
Marion Blomeier has known Peters for 35 years and said he’s always very nice to the people who come to listen to him play. She said she likes that he plays a wide variety of music.
Peters plays during the lounge’s happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Sood said the lounge has two-for-one on top-shelf liquor like Grey Goose. With the hotel 30 percent occupied on his opening night, there were about 25 people in the lounge early in the evening.
“It’s very relaxing, it’s not overwhelming,” Dolores Gilbert said. “You can have a conversation and still listen to his music.”
Evelyn Cook, Joe St. John and Del White sat at a table near the piano to listen to Peters play. Cook said they used to see him play a lot when he was at the hotel before.
“I really enjoyed it and have gotten to know him,” Cook said. “And I wanted to be here for his opening night.”
Mike and Cathy Flynn said they met Peters awhile ago at the Hilton. They said they always go to the Hilton for happy hour before going to dinner because it’s more personal.
Sood said Peters brings a more elegant lounge atmosphere.
“I’ve always played the piano and I love it,” Peters said. “I never want to stop playing the piano.”
Where: Sandcastles Lounge, Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort, 560 S. Collier Blvd.
When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
For more: 394-5000