2 Nov 2014
Paranormal activity: Downtown piano bar an unknown local 'haunt'
SALT LAKE CITY — If dishes mysteriously being placed on the kitchen floor like displayed playing cards; a piano playing at random; an apparition; and balls of light or “orbs” caught in photos aren’t signs of a haunting, they are certainly unexplainable.
Even skeptic workers at Keys on Main maintain incidents like these have happened enough to question whether the downtown dueling-piano nightclub may in fact have a few patrons who have lingered beyond closing time for this life.
“Even during the daylight this place is kind of a scary building,” bar manager Ben Raskin said. “There are a couple of passages down there (in the basement) which make you wonder why would someone ever construct it.”
Raskin is emphatic: He does not believe in “ghosts or the supernatural or the occult or any of these things," but he does have something he experienced himself that would raise the eyebrows of even the most devout skeptics.
His story starts in the 1930s when the building was being used as a hotel or hostel. A fire supposedly started in a basement kitchen and took the lives of five workers.
He then deviates to modern day. As Raskin tells it, he was the only person inside the bar early in the day about two years ago when he heard dishes crashing. He said he rushed back to the kitchen and found that the cook had not shown up yet, the lights were off and the rear door was locked.
When he turned on the lights, he couldn’t believe what he saw on the ground — not broken dishes, but five intact dishes that were spread across the floor like playing cards about 7 feet from where all the dishes had been stacked.
“The weird thing is they were so far out and kind of fanned out there would be no cause to have the things fanned out,” Raskin said. “It was one of those moments where you go like, ‘Holy Toledo! Five people died in the fire, five people with the plates, what if there’s a connection?' ”
I don't have an explanation for it and to me, I don't know, I would chalk that one up to the paranormal.
Stories like the one Raskin tells are what drive the members of the “Ghost Hopping” crew to continually seek out unknown, local haunts.
Ben Powers, David Morrison, Danielle Martino and on-air star “Marcus” — also a comedian featured on “Last Comic Standing” who only goes by his stage name — have a series of YouTube shows and have traveled as far as the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg to document photographic abnormalities, light anomalies and voices in the dark.
Very early Halloween morning between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., they joined KSL reporter Andrew Adams and photojournalist Steve Breinholt to investigate Keys on Main.
Over the brief two-hour investigation — some go as long as six to eight hours — they encountered more of the unexplained.
They crept down to the basement, through a century-old passage into another room that didn’t look like it had been used since the 1970s.
There they turned off the lights and turned on their detection devices, audio recording equipment and cameras, including one that utilizes night vision.
Martino held an Ovilus device that is supposed to allow a Q-and-A session with spirits with word-generation software. Marcus employed a Spirit Box that cycles swiftly through radio frequencies and generates white noise that spirits can, in theory, use to speak.
In the basement, the Spirit Box was particularly active.
“Do you know anything about the fire that happened here?” Marcus asked whoever might be listening while in complete darkness.
The Spirit Box replied with a female voice, “Fire.”
Soon afterward, Marcus asked another question.
“Can somebody say Andrew’s (Adams) name?” he asked. “Say hi to Andrew?”
A voice softly replied, “Andrew.”
Breinholt was more popular with the unknown entities, with multiple male and female voices emanating from the Spirit Box, saying “Steve” about a dozen times. In one instance, a voice seemed to say “Steve’s forehead” as he adjusted the light on his head.
“I don’t know if it’s after me or if it doesn’t like me, if it likes me,” Breinholt shrugged afterward. “I don’t know. I just don’t know.”
Perhaps the most curious piece of paranormal evidence from the night came as the investigators and news crew started to leave the basement.
“Are you in here?” Marcus questioned into the darkness of a passageway.
All six observers heard a disembodied voice as if it was in the room with them. After reviewing an audio recording and amplifying it, it sounded like a man’s voice that said, “Hello?”
After spending 10 minutes combing over the basement and finding no people and nothing disturbed, the investigators could not debunk the response.
“It doesn’t sound like any human that was down there. It doesn’t sound like either of these guys,” Marcus said, referencing Raskin and another club employee who were still upstairs at the time. “I don’t have an explanation for it, and to me, I don’t know, I would chalk that one up to the paranormal.”
As is custom at the end of the evening for the paranormal investigators, Marcus politely thanked whatever spirits lingered for allowing the investigators to temporarily disturb their peace and urged them not to follow any of the crew home.
Marcus said he had experienced some unexplained activity at his home following past investigations.
“You never want to be disrespectful in any way, you never want to leave with someone being mad at you. We always go in as guests, respectful as if you would go into anybody’s house,” Marcus explained. “We never try to anger anything.”