Key of gee whiz! Merton hits the mall tonight

The artist-outfitted pianos that the Downtown Denver Partnership placed on the 16th Street Mall last November were such a hit that ten of them returned this summer for a command performance. And while they were initially supposed to stay there just through June, the gig kept getting extended, and extended -- first through the Biennial of the Americas, then through the Taste of Colorado, allowing for tonight's gig by Merton, the YouTube phenom of PianochatImprov who's slated to tickle the ivories at 16th and Welton streets from 7 to 10 p.m.

"It's been a learn-as-you go process for us," says Sarah Neumann, communications manager for the Partnership. "Our team is still trying to figure out when to pull the pianos off and if they should go back out during the holidays (the issue of snow keeps resurfacing)."

The pianos were not part of the mammoth 16th Street Plan Steering Committee study of mall options that ultimately decided... to leave things pretty much as they are. From a traffic-flow standpoint, at least. "There will still be plenty of changes," Neumann says, and those changes were outlined at a final public hearing on the project last week. "It was the wrap-up of an eighteen-month process," she notes. "It went really well."