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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mike and Bob Bryan match tennis talent with musical passion.

 By Mirza Iqbal Baig
Mahajir City

 For a long time, Jeff Launius knew a little about his star players’ devotion to music, but was admittedly more concerned about their tennis. Whatever Bob and Mike Bryan decided to do in their free time was fine was him, so long as they continued to take the world — not to mention World TeamTennis by storm.
The brothers have certainly done the latter. When they haven’t been playing for Launius’ Kansas City Explorers over the past seven years, they’ve only risen to break countless records and become the No. 1-ranked doubles team in the world.
But Launius says he didn’t realize how passionate the brothers were about their other craft until roughly five years ago, when they wrapped up a press conference at a Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis one day and Bob spotted a baby grand piano nearby and decided to put on an impromptu show for the stunned audience.
“Bob just hopped on it and started playing,” Launius said, “and it was fantastic. Some people came out and said ‘Oh, that must be an electronic piano.’ And I’m like, ‘nope, that’s Bob Bryan playing.’ And they’re like, ‘really?’”
Really. As good as the Bryan Brothers are at tennis — and when it comes to doubles, there’s nobody better — the 33-year old twins still find the time for a side hobby. With Bob on the keyboard and bass and Mike on the guitar and drums, they started their band — appropriately named The Bryan Brothers Band — in 2009 with fellow musician David Baron.
“We’re not cool enough yet to come up with a cool name like U2,” Mike jokes.
Mike maintains a sense of humor about what he calls their “secondary passion,” but rest assured it is no laughing matter. The brothers released a CD with Baron in 2010, and Mike says they play 15-to-20 gigs a year and entertain fans with a variety of music, ranging from rock to pop. Their father, Wayne, has been known to get in on the act from time-to-time and function as the front man.
“It’s in our blood,” Mike says. “We played music when we were little and we had all these musical instruments in the living room. We always dreamed of being rock stars, though it’s probably never going to happen.”
That doesn’t keep them from trying to fulfill the musical dreams in the same way they did their tennis dreams. Growing up, they wanted to be like the Australian doubles team of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde (also known as The Woodies),who played with flair and held a number of doubles records, that is, until the Bryans came along.
Since they began their professional tennis careers in 1998, the Bryans — who are fresh off their second Wimbledon doubles title, which they collected earlier this month — have broken the Woodies’ record for most tour titles (73 to 61) and are tied for most Grand Slam titles (11).
It’s obviously taken tons of practice and hard work to achieve all of that, which — in a roundabout way — also confirms how serious they are about their music.
“We practice as much as we play tennis,” Mike said. “We put in a few hours a day, at least.”
And they’ve gotten so good that for a while now, Launius has gone out of his way to get the Bryans to perform their music here in Kansas City. They actually did a show in the Power and Light District last summer, and after they help the Explorers take on the Sacramento Capitals in a home match at 7:35 tonight, they’ll come right back to Barney Allis Plaza at 7 p.m. Friday.
Tickets for the concert cost $15, but Launius says all proceeds will go to charity. He’s unsure what the turnout will be — he says the crowd for their most recent concert on Tuesday in Sacramento was good — but one thing he will vouch for is this: if their last concert in Kansas City was any indication, fans hoping to see the best doubles team in the world perform at their second craft will come away satisfied.
“People who came out last year were amazed how good they were,” Launius said. “You will not be disappointed if you come out.”

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