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Great Party Ideas That Create Lifelong Memories – The Cure for Presidents Day

So I have finally found one of the most perfect party ideas AND it will cure your next President’s Day.

Throw a party. Yes. That would be throw a party during Presidents Day and bring in a piano player and a award winning chef and see where that would lead.

I have many items on my bucket list. I frequently get new party ideas along with all my new song ideas and lyric ideas. But I don’t think I ever came up with throwing an afternoon party on Presidents Day. 

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No Need To Wait Until Next Year for Great Party Ideas

Well it happened for me yesterday. And what a success! Not a lot of people. Only about 10, maybe 12 folks. A few of their kids showed up. We ate great food, we sang some great songs, we sat down with friends and made great memories. You can too.

Plus, and here’s the good part, you don’t have to wait until next year’s Presidents Day. Start thinking about your outdoor BBQs and your graduation party ideas and your anniversary party ideas. We can make this another fantastic event filled and life long lasting memory creating event that will last a lifetime.

Call me to see what kind of ideas I can come up with for you and your memory tank.

Entertainment that leaves people wanting more…

Did you ever hear one of the attendees leave one of your corporate events saying, “wow…that was amazing!”

I’ve been fortunate enough to have event planners tell me that is exactly what they’ve heard people say, and honestly, they’ve said it themselves.But how do you get to that point? How do you create a corporate event that leaves people “wowed?” For me, it’s a collaborative process with the client.

I’ll create that one special song, or develop that one memorable moment or special entertainment experience that has people clapping their hands and tapping their feet.

Whatever the event, I’ll create customized songs that fit in with a strong brand presence, or key elements of a new product launch or trade show theme, or find a way to honor that someone special.

When you hire me, here’s what you get:  a seasoned professional who has built a reputation of making events an overwhelming success, filled with lasting memories for everyone.

Isn’t that what you want when hiring a lead entertainer?

Of course it is. And I know corporate entertainment! It’s a unique niche, and it’s what I specialize in!

I work hand-in-hand with you to make sure the content, the music and the comedy is in line with your goals, your company and your audience.

There’ll be no surprises, no red flags, no questionable content – nothing that will embarrass you or anyone in your company.

Once we decide on “the line,” I won’t cross it. So you can rest assured that everything will go according to the plan we develop together.

Sound like the professional entertainment you’re looking for?

Let’s talk about it!

I encourage you to give me a call at 773-527-7417. I’m here to answer any questions you may have, discuss the process or check available dates.

Tea Drinkers Don’t Suck

They just sip. And that’s why I don’t like tea.

I’m going to say something here that’s going to piss a lot of people off. I don’t care. It needs to be said. 

comedy, entertainment for events, piano music, comedy music,

Tea Drinkers Don’t Suck

If I’m going to have something to drink – I want to drink it. You can’t drink tea. You have to sip it. And that’s what infuriates me.

You can’t drink tea. It takes forever. I wish it didn’t.

I have things to do. I have people to be. I don’t want to waste my time sipping tea. Give me something to drink. There I’ve said it. I like to swallow.

You have to wait for it to cool down to sip it or you’ll burn the crap out of the roof of your mouth. Who wants a burned mouth? Not “It”.

It’s fine for my wife. She likes tea. No I take that back.

She loves tea. She drinks it all day long and she says it makes life simple and more enjoyable. She says tea lets you think about things before you react to them.

So since she knows so much more about so many more things than I do, I decided to join her at the tea store on one of our dates. Chicago has some great tea stores. There’s this one over on Broadway in Chicago. You can buy tea in bulk and it smells really good in there too.

But when we get home and she makes the tea, it tastes funky. Not like anything “good” funky. I tried to like it but I couldn’t.

comedy, entertainment for events, piano music, comedy music,

Don’t Drink This

To me it tastes like dish water that has been soaking the skillet that you broiled that salmon in last night.

At best it resembles a baby diaper bin at a day care center for children that suffer from inferiority complexes.

Once I had a sip of my wife’s tea and I thought I was drinking hair dye that got poured into the Ganges River and strained through a gym sock that had been left in the bottom of my gym bag from last Thursday.

Who wants to drink that?

I don’t. Not me. Go look for crazy somewhere else. Please.

Tiger Woods Will Never Be Back I’m Not Saying This To Be Comedy

This Is Not Comedy
But I Had To Say It Anyway

entertainment for events, PGA Tour, Tiger Woods, piano music, comedy, Tiger Woods will NOT be back. Many people think he is washed up. They think that’s the last we’re going to see of him.

I tend to agree. When he burst onto the scene as a young Stanford student some 15 years ago he was a beast. He was doing things most golfers never bothered to do. They sure as hell didn’t look like him.

Tiger hit the course and not only was he winning, no, destroying the competition, he looked really good doing it. He was chiseled from head to toe. He wasn’t sporting a gut. He had abs and pecks and he could drive the ball farther than anybody on the tour. Plus the color of his skin made us sit up and watch. A whole generation did.

He changed the game of golf forever. He changed the tour. The purses went up and now these guys are making more and more every year. They can thank Tiger for that. He is the one that made people watch, which brought in the sponsors who brought the prize money. entertainment for events, PGA Tour, Tiger Woods, piano music, comedy,

In 2014 there were 100 players who earned $1M or more on the PGA tour. In 1996, the year Tiger turned pro, there were less than half of that amount.

Here’s another reason Tiger won’t be back to the form he was.

He averaged 305 yards per drive as a young pro. 305. Ranked #1. No one else even came close. You know what he averaged this year? The same. 305. Respectable? Hell yeah!

That ranks him 19th overall.

But I don’t know what happened. Maybe he got distracted by his off the course challenges. Maybe he worked out and pushed his body too hard. He’s still a beast. Anybody who stays on the course and wins a championship with a completely destructed knee is everything we wanted to be.

But he had to take time off after reconstructive knee surgery. That took a year. Then he had to get that psychological edge back. That takes time. And many argue he never got the edge back after either one of those two incidents. 

Add this — the guys on the PGA tour are the kinds of guys who are super competitive too. So they did what the champion had been doing. They worked out. They pushed themselves to build their gluts, not their guts, their abs and pecs so they could drive the ball further too.

So now Tiger still averages 305 per drive. Yet that only ranks him 19th overall.

entertainment for events, PGA Tour, Tiger Woods, piano music, comedy,

Thank You Tiger Woods

So, No, I don’t think he’ll be back. That’s not a pun. Remember no comedy here today. Just a mini rant. 

Did he destroy his body? Maybe. I doubt it. I think he just lost the edge.

I think he was the right man at the right time for the PGA. He built it up the way no one else ever could before him. There may be someone else behind him. But there will never be another Tiger Woods. I doubt it sincerely that he will ever win another championship. He did what he did when he did it but …. and he’ll never be back. Not anymore. In the meantime … 

Thank you Tiger.

 

How Do You Spell 60th Birthday Party Ideas?

Everyone Loves A Good Celebration — Birthday Party Ideas 

party ideas, surprise parties, piano entertainment, piano music,

Celebrate Now!

Celebrations are to be remembered. With all that can happen in the course of life, the good fortune to be able to come together with friends and family to commemorate a milestone like a birthday or an anniversary is to be relished with a party. But what can I say? I’m a professional entertainer. So there’s that. 

With that said when I get invited to come to your event as a piano player, I am humbled to know that first of all, you value good music, and second of all that you have allowed me to be a part of an intimate family memory that will last a lifetime.

That is exactly what happened last year in the summer when George and Colleen invited me to their home to celebrate George’s 60th birthday party. A little back story first …

George is happy to be celebrating anything above ground. Especially a 60th birthday party. George had had a major heart attack a year earlier. Like as in MAJOR. The weird part is George is one of those health nuts. Apparently he is quite active riding his bike and taking long tours for fun. He’s been doing this for years. In fact, George looks like one those guys who is healthy. Fit, tall, muscualar and full of life and energy.

If you were to put George in a line of 20 other men his age, you would pick him last as a candidate for “The Big Grabber”. But you would have picked wrong.

At the fateful moment he was blessed to be around his family and his wife, who is a registered nurse and knew how to administer CPR, thus keeping him alive long enough to get him on the table and get his operation that allowed him to live.

Now jump ahead a year later and everyone is happy to celebrate a surprise 60th birthday party for him.

So as part of his surprise party his wife, Colleen, and his kids, now grown, prepared this party under the radar. The misdirect (every surprise party needs a misdirect – where you get the celebrant out of the house long enough to get everything prepared) was to take him on a “short” bike ride down around Chicago to the lakefront and back. Nothing too strenuous.

We were all assembled in the backyard when he came around back towards the garage on his bike when we yelled “SURPRISE!!!” to which George was startled so severely that he fell off his bike.

It was then that we immediately realized maybe this whole “SURPRISE!!!” thing might not be good for his health lest we wanted to inflict another hear attack on the unsuspecting birthday boy. 

BIRTHDAY PARTY, 60TH SURPRISE PARTY, PIANO MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT,

No … THANK YOU!

All was well though. Laughter and some memorable video footage will be enterted into the family archives for future laughs.

I was invited to be the piano player because George loves the Beatles and good music all around. Hence, the addendum at the end of the thank you note I received.

As you can see music reaches and heals all of us no matter where we are at. It helps during celebrations as well as times when Mother Nature rears her inevitable patterns.

So when considering party ideas, whether the good celebrations or the not so good, remember music will touch the soul of everyone who is there. It is an honor to not only play piano music for your birthday party ideas but also to be invited to your intimate family event. Thank you.

Dan – your performance not only touched & thrilled me,
it reached everyone’s soul who was there.
Love George”

How Do Piano Players Learn New Songs w/o Sheet Music?

I don’ know about the other piano player, but we rarely use piano sheet music when we’re playing piano for hire.

I used to use all kinds of Fake Books when I first started out. But not anymore. When I want to learn a new song, I have a bunch of other ways to get the song memorized and into my repertoire. Here are only a few of the methods: 

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Need Sheet Music?

  1. Fake Books are otherwise known as lead sheets. They resemble piano sheet music except that don’t use a full staff. There’s no trebele and bass clefs. There’s only treble clef. Only a melody and lyrics are printed. There will be a chord chart over the treble clef. Those may be in the form of a symbol like a C7 or Cm7 or something like that. Sometimes it will be a chord grid showing the frets and the fingering. That would be more for guitarists not pinao sheet music.
    There used to be fake books when I was learning playing jazz piano gigs. They just had the melody and written out chord symbols.Not so much anymore. We tend to find almost anything we need on a variety of apps or on lyric sites online.
  2. Tabs are used for guitarists mostly. As a piano player I dont have much use for them tabs. Short for tabluture, again it’s like a grid showing which fret and which fingers go where.
  3. Apps are used in force these days. I love ’em. Not only does it allow me to look up songs on the fly when someone requests an obscure hit, I can also leave all my fake books at home. I used to carry a suitcase full of tunes with me to every gig. I would every fake book I thought I might need for that particular gig and inevitably, someone would ask for something I didn’t have in my collection that particular night.Now I use OnSong.com or I go to GuitarTabs.com and download their software. It usually costs $7-10 a year. But well worth it every time.
  4. Play By Ear most times. It’s faster and since most Pop songs are all the same basic 4 chords, the only thing to get is how they phrase their lyrics. The arrangements are all pretty musch the same magic trick. If its in a minor key it will resolve to the relative major. For example, if it’s E minor then the chorus will come around to G Major. Listen to Take Me To Church by Hozier. Listen to Blank Space the new hit by Taylor Swift.If the song is G Major, the turn around or the bridge is going to start on the E minor ….. and so on and so on.That’s pretty much it for how professional piano players learn new songs without using sheet music. Fake books are fading out. Apps are the most popular. But I still rely on my ears and my experience to get a new song ready for performance.

Hope this helped.

How Does A Piano Player Learn So Many New Songs?

Learning new songs is part and parcel of our daily existence as a piano player who plays live music regularly. The challenge is sifting through all the new music and finding what works and what doesn’t work.

In my opinion most of the Pop and Country music these days has become homogenized. For those of you that didn’t grow up in the 60s ‘homogenized’ is not a sexual connotation. It means that everything is made the same. Some might say made to the same standard of quality. But I think what has happened is that most of the popular songs have the same chord changes and a drought of tasty melodies. I know there are some great and talented songwriters out there. But by the time their tune gets to the producer and to the recording process, there are changes that get made to make the song palatable. Axis of Awesome did this comedy music bit that has become a perfect example of what I’m taking about  

That’s okay by me. I don’t mind. I just know, as a writer, there are so many possibilities harmonically and melodically speaking, that there is no excuse for this. Even if a song were to have one ‘mystery chord’ in there somewhere, it would go a long way. It could be laziness. It could be ignorance.

But I think what has happened is when people like something, the creators replicate it because they know it’s a winning formula. This is true in every successful business. The music business is no different.

I think Adele has had some good success with adding tasty chords into her songs. Bruno Mars is copying many of the greats that came before him. They are both quite open about the fact that they are standing the shoulders of the giants who came before them.

My job is a piano player is to interpret what is out there and make it my own. For example, I don’t use massive amounts of music production techniques at our performances. I know some players use backing tracks and drum machines, even at dueling pianos shows. That’s cool. I never found it all that inspiring. As a piano player who works a lot I find I get inspiration from the people who are listening. I like that kind of energy rather than a technical energy.

The idea is that then the piano player turns the song into something of his own. Since we are all standing on the shoulders of the great ones who came before us, the only thing left for us to do is to personalize it.

That’s one of the things I learned early on as I was an aspiring musician learning to become a professional piano player. I used to think “Who is the best piano player?”. But then I realized it’s all one magic trick. Once you learn that one trick everything else after that is about adding the personality you were born with or that you are willing to let shine through.

So when I learn a new One Direction song or something from Jason Aldean, it doesn’t matter to me that all the same chords sequences are being used over and over again. I try to find the essence of the tune and make it my own. Sometimes I get it right, other times I need to keep learning.

Quick Retirement Party Ideas

I had a call last week for another custom writing job. It was to be part of a long list of retirement party ideas.

I’ve had these calls before. An executive of seasoned tenure is about to retire. The accolades will be forthcoming. The revealing anecdotes will be told. … and … in this case, a special song parody will be written and recorded for the celebrant.

The gentleman going into the golden years of his life was a life long salesman. He had founded his company, mentored many young professionals in his time and was looking forward to go off hunting and fishing. The perfect choice was a song parody of the Kenny Rogers hit The Gambler.

The interview process is a simple one for gigs like this. I have a 2 page questionnaire I have the contact fill out. They usually send it around to the other executives and co-workers around the office. They become our eyes and ears.

The process is going to take at least two days. I get all the info. I write up a few verses. 5 or 6 to be exact. I’m only going to use one or two. Then I get the chorus to go along with the plan.

After that I get the studio all cranked up. Fire off the essential parts. Arrange it for timing of the jokes and then I get a quick demo out the door. Once the customer signs off on it, I know I’ve got a winner. Then I just re-record it, mix it and master in the studio.

Listen to the final product. How did I do? Let me know.

Lickety split, Super quick Retirement party ideas will last a lifetime.

There’s simply nothing like running a successful event.

If you have the responsibility to book a key entertainer for your company’s next big event, I know that this is not your first rodeo. 

It’s a complex process that’s probably taken you many years to acquire the skills required to make it a successful event. 

And there is absolutely nothing like getting a call or note from the CEO telling you what a great event you orchestrated. 

My career is based on playing a significant role in helping you get those types of calls and notes. 

Whether it’s the parody songs I create or the way I weave your message into comedy entertainment or my ability to get everyone to stand up and sing along together, I know how to engage a room full of people. 

I’ve been doing it successfully for most of my adult life. 

But don’t just take my word for it. Take a look at what others in your position have to say about me: 

Marda Cottrell Popejoy Inc. Fairbury, IL 61739 Ph-815-692-4471

“We had an absolute ball with your guys at our party! Since we have used you before we knew what we were getting and the second time was just as great as the first! My boss said he thinks this was the best Christmas party that we have ever thrown! I hope that we can work together again in the future!”

Cheri Breneman, Administrator Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts cheri@iafpd.org  800-524-6620team building

“As for the evening entertainment, I heard nothing but positive comments on you performance.  Your talent was an exceptional fit to our audience (age, gender and culture) and the conference social event. It is a true pleasure being involved with something that makes others happy and you accomplished that in more ways than one. Thank you for your service to the IAFPD 72nd Annual conference.”

Hopefully, I’ll be able to add your testimonial to my list of references. 

A phone call is the best way to get that process started. 

Please give me a call at your convenience. You can reach me at 773-527-7417. 

I look forward to talking to you! 

When Was The Last Time You Had A Good Laugh? Dueling Pianos Music and Comedy

Another beautiful frosty day in November here in Chicago. We had another successful corporate event last night. It was a dueling pianos show in Peoria IL courtesy of Central Illinois Dueling Pianos. Thank you very much Andrew

We entertained a whole bunch of government officials. Some newly elected. Some newly un-elected. And of course all of their staff. We had a lot of laughs.

I love that part of our job as a musician, as an entertainer for an event.

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When Was The Last Time You Had A Good Laugh?

Getting people to laugh. Sometimes we’re just improvising. Sometimes they’re routines that we have been doing for years. But the thing about dueling pianos is we are always going to have something different.

It’s because of the audience. Every audience, tho similar, is different. Different requests. Different celebrations. Just different.

But we know you’re going to have fun. We know we’re going to get you to where you want to go. You want to have fun and you need to laugh. We just have to organize the deck chairs, if you will. Alphabetize the chaos.

We had that rolling laughter last night. That interactive banter that keys off of people in the audience and their responses. A quality dueling piano show allows for that to happen. It’s so flexible.

I feel like the laughter is the key. I have always been looking for that laugh. As long as I can remember. Its a key component of what I do. Getting people to laugh.

One of the ways to do it is to be able to laugh at myself. That right there is probably the top way to get others’ to join me in laughter. I don’t take this whole music and comedy thing too seriously. I know, comedy is a serious business and all. But I just don’t take myself too seriously.

I hope you don’t either. And don’t take it too personally either. We’re all human. We’re all really kind of the same – for the most part. We all do and think the same stupid stuff. So it’s okay to laugh at yourself sometimes. It lightens the load we have to carry.

I think I read something somewhere about how laughter releases a chemical into our systems that keeps us young. I hope that’s true. Because there are times when I absolutely crave hearing laughter and having a good laugh – at myself most of all.

I hope you have a great Holiday season. We are busy busy busy again. Yet there are still a few dates open. I’d love to help you laugh some night too. Call me and we’ll see what we can do.