Author Archives: Dan

Live Band Dueling Pianos

So we played a dueling pianos show last night at Bar Louie’s up in Mil-Town (a.k.a. Milwaukee), Chicago’s largest suburb in Wisconsin and I must say that, once again, we had a great time. Go figure. People in Wisconsin are always way too easy to get along with.

I was with the great Ted Oliver across from me. And he had invited some local musicians he’s been jamming with from a band called C.I.A. Which is short for Caught In The Act I think.

Anyway, they were realllllyy good. Stan and Mark were on sax and trumpet while Tom came up and shredded his vocal chords on some Chicago and Journey and various and sundry hits. They’re wives and friends were there and I must say, it might go down as one of the highlights of my year.

There are always one or twon gigs which stand out as highlights of the year for me. This one would go in the Top 5 for me for 2015, that’s for sure. These guys were exceptional. They’re energy was infectious for me and Ted and for everyone in attendance. I played and sang differently because they were there.

You see, there is something about live music that is completely disarming for most people. When we play dueling pianos we can get people dancing and singing along. But when we added those horns, people were downright defenseless against the power of live music.

I would like to think it is us. I know we’re the ones behind the instruments. We’re the ones on the mics cracking jokes and imploring folks to sing along.

But it is the power of the music that makes it work. It is the universal language of music that is coming into your soul and creating joy and beauty and memories that will last your entire lifetime. Maybe beyond.

Will these musicians remember on their death bed the long days working that senseless day job? Or will they remember with fondness and a great sense of fulfillment the nights of playing music in front of people who truly enjoyed it too?

Let us create memories for you at your next get together. It would be an honor. Especially if you’re in Mil-Town or the surrounding ‘burbs.

All American Dueling Pianos. Creating Lifelong Memories One Song At A Time. 773-527-7417

Yes and …. CFD Saves Historic Second City Theater !

The Second City theater was creatively saved by CFD yesterday. Amazing! I don’t how I would have felt if they brave firefighters of Chicago had not been able keep the water out of our historic theater.

But they did it! Kudos to the Chicago Fire Department. Many thanks. CFD Saves The Day!

So many memories for me inside those walls. The offices were largely destroyed. But both theaters were saved! Those offices used to be apartments where we would “hang out” at after the bars closed. A major part of my history as well as the entire Old Town neighborhood.

The Creative Process and How It Works

This is a great chart of how prolific creative people spent their time on a daily basis.
Want to develop a better work routine? Discover how some of the world’s greatest minds organized their days.
Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).


There are many, many ways to reach through the process. I try to find balance in my daily schedule, a balance between business and creativity, eating well, exercising and finding time to relax and meditate. Its not always easy with a freelancers schedule.

that’s why this chart on the creative process and how others’ have done their best with the 24 hours we have available to each and every one of us was so good for me to see. I hope ou find it valuable too.

If You Ever Drove A Lamborghini Would You Tell Anybody?

I was pulling up to the restaurant gig today and I went to park with the valet. They were very busy because it was the dinner hour. I pulled up in my minivan to own unload my gear. I told the guy I was the piano player for the night and he quickly said, “Okay. Fine.” Then he ran to the car behind me.I was kind of insulted at first. I figured he was thinking, “Oh great! Here’s another musician. I don’t have to pay attention to him.”But I wasn’t insulted when I looked in my rearview mirror to see the car that he ran to.  It was a jet black Lamborghini. The valet was grinning ear to ear.
lamborghini, luxury cars, piano music, live music,

Nice Ride!

I don’t often have car lust. I have lusted after the BMW 700 series. Especially if it still comes with the hydrogen fuel-cell. That would be a cool car to drive. I’ve never driven one. But I definitely plan on driving one sometime in my life.

I have driven the Corvette. Now that’s a nice machine. I would definitely look into getting a Corvette. But most of the other high-end luxury cars don’t really interest me all that much. I’m sure they’re nice. I’m sure they’d be wonderful to drive and to own. But I don’t give them all that much thought.

But as I looked at this Lamborghini I thought,
“Now that’s a car I should definitely look into someday.”

I looked at the valet with a smile on his face as he drove off in the Lamborghini and I wondered “I’ll bet he has a short list of really nice cars he would like to own someday.” I’m sure he does and I’m sure that if he did not have a Lamborghini on his list he does now.

The valet has probably driven more luxury cars than I’ve even thought of in my life.

One more thing — if had ever worked as a valet and I had a chance to park a Lamborghini, I would definitely tell my friends. “Yeah, I’ve driven a Lamborghini.”  Even if I only just parked one.

Should A Bar Counter Sue A Cover Band for the Music They Play?

I wanted to share this video because this marks a disturbing trend. Watch this first then read and join the discussion below. Disturbing for everyone who loves live music and especially for this of us who play live music.

FOX 13 News

If the bar owner is claiming he has no control over what the band plays, and his argument wins in court, then that makes the cover band liable for the fines to be paid to BMI.

So that would now keep the bar owner in business but it would put the band out of business.

Which means, kind folks, since most bands are only hobbyists who do not make their full time income from playing music, (People like me seem to be in the minority these days) there will now be even fewer qualified bands to perform live music.

If this trend persists, the restriction of which music a band can or can not play based on a license with the performing rights agency, live music will cease to exist.

I would like people who know more about this subject than i do to chime in here and let me know if this is what is going to happen.

Will Live Music cease to exist on a grass roots level? Will bar bands stop performing due to high licensing fees? What does an amateur band or a bunch of kids in high school do to get compliance?

4th of July Thank You To All

4th of July thoughts:

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

John Adams

On this 4th of July 2015 I am truly living the American Dream. I would like to thank you.
I get to play music for a living. That s because of the sacrifices people made before me. My Grandfather (not that I knew him or anything) apparently came here from Ireland and worked as a laborer. My Dad went to school on the GI Bill and started and ran a very successful law firm Chicago for decades. I have been able to raise a family playing music and writing and producing CDs and theater projects with an endless list of quality artists.

Happy Birthday America!

I owe you so much I can not express the depth of my gratitude. So I will attempt to give something back 1 song, 1 lyric, 1 show at a time. And I will hope that it begins to fulfill my obligation that this is truly the greatest republic in the history of man kind.
God Bless America and God Bless You. 
Now let’s hear Ray Charles’s gratitude.

Graduation Quotes Worth Remembering

Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving.
They make mistakes but don’t quit.- Conrad Hilton

This is the season of new beginnings. Spring time. Hope. New things.

One season ends and another begins. Accomplishments bear fruit and we see the results of our efforts come forth. Graduation.

We had another high school graduation this month. Our youngest left high school and embarks on her next chapter. College. A new season. A new beginning.

With all of our children, we have hopes and dreams that they will one day do well; find their way, contribute on a meaningful way.

We give them the best of ourselves (and sometimes the worst) and we hope that it will be enough for when they need it most. Schools. Clothes. Friends. The best of everything – or at least the best that we can provide at the time.

graduation quotes, graduate, graduation parties, comedy, quotes, It’s like the great Robin Williams joke. And I’m paraphrasing of course, You hold them in your arms as a new born and you wonder what their lives’ will be like. Will they be hearing “… and now to accept the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, Physics and Basketball …” or will they be saying “Would you like fries with that?”

So here’s to all of you and yours doing well this graduation season. May all your parties be grand and festive and may all your futures be bright and productive.

graduation quotes 

What’s Your Favorite Song?

The question I get asked second most is, favorite song 
“What kind of music do you like to play the best?” 

favorite song, piano music, good music,

Two Kinds of Music

I always like to quote Duke Ellington who said, “There are only two kinds of music. Good and the other kind.”

I only play one kind. Which is good.

But what is good? How do you know it’s good? It’s so hard to tell these days. Let’s go back to the Grand Master Duke who went on to say,

If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good!”

So it starts if I can make it sound good. Brown Eyed Girl can have a great groove. You can play it reggae style. You can play it bluesy. You can even go Calypso on it and fill the dance floor in nothing flat. favorite song 

So, basically, if my audience is having a good time, it’s probably cuz it feels good to them.

I can play Sweet Caroline 4 times a night because if I place it in the right portion of the night, people love that song. They’re having a great time with it. So I’m having fun too.

I got asked that question the other night again, “What is your favorite song to play?”

I was in a club. It wasn’t all that busy. Kind of a quiet night. Maybe 50 people in the bar. The usual mix of foreigners and American tourists. A few Canadians but mostly Brits. A relaxing, warm spring evening in Chicago.

I love meeting new people. Especially people from other places than my neighborhood or my city. It’s good to have another perspective.

I remember one time I was playing on a boat that was spinning around Lake Michigan. I was a young man; about 20 something. I struck up a conversation with a woman from Israel who was living in Germany. I was complaining about our government and all the problems. She just looked at me and in no uncertain terms expressed, “You have no idea how good you have it here in America.”

There are always more than one way to look at things. I forget that sometimes unless I am talking with a wide and varied group of people on a regular basis.

Last night at a party I met a woman who was probably in her late 60s who is deeply involved in the justice system. Her point of view is massively different than my friends who are police.

That’s why when people ask me what kind of music I like the best, I have to answer with a question; “What kind of music do you like? What is your favorite song?” Because as an entertainer I’m not really allowed to judge. I want you to have a good time. I want you to hear the music that makes you feel good. If you’re feeling good, then I’m feeling good. Pretty simple really.

But as a musician (not as an entertainer) I have a very different point of view. First and foremost, it has to have a groove. I also like music that tells a story. I like music that has interesting harmonic structures; something I can spread my wings on and investigate tonalities and textures within the course of the tune. I like to discover something new in every song. Especially if I’ve been playing it for many months – or years.

It’s pretty simple. It comes down to the same thing for me too. Does it make me feel good? Cuz if I’m feeling good, you are too.

Let’s feel good together with live music and piano songs that create more great memories that will lat a lifetime for you.

Call me at +1 773-527-7417 and I GUARANTEE we will have some fun!