Category Archives: Chicago

Holiday Party Ideas New Years Entertainment

Holiday Party Ideas? Think about this …

This year’s holiday party season has come to a close. It was a very interesting and varied schedule of private parties and company events.

I didn’t have many offers for NYE gigs this year. I had some bar gigs offered. I had a couple of restaurant gigs. But since Amber’s birthday is on New Year’s Day, I like to take something new and memorable. Not that I have anything against restaurant gigs. I’ve just played my share of them so much over the years, that I know they are kind of quiet and low key. Most people who go out to a restaurant on New Year’s Eve are there to celebrate early and be home by 1030.

Those that do go out to a bar are looking for a raucous time. It’s a rare night out for those folks who don’t usually go out all that often. Those of us in the business call New Year’s Eve ‘Amateur Night’ for all the reasons you can guess.

But this year I was rewarded for holding out for an interesting gig. I got a call for a private house party through an agent friend of mine. It was going to require a bit of travel. But the weather has been so mild this year that I thought it would be fun to take a road trip to the eastern part of the USA.

Our hostess had bought her childhood home in Malone, NY – a small town in upstate New York – about 30 miles from the Canadian border. The shortest distance to her home town was through the lovely country of Canada. We left in enough time to avoid a storm which smacked everyone pretty good with some sleet. But we were counting on the Canadians’ extensive experience in snow removal techniques to remain safe and unscathed. We were correct.

Not only were the roads clear and dry, there were fewer pot holes in the entire province of Ontario than there were down my entire Chicago street where I live.

piano music canada, holiday party ideas We were able to stop in Toronto for the night and heard some stellar jazz cats ringing it at an open session. Even tho I am an alum of The Second City, I have never been up to our sister city of Toronto. Very international feel to it all. And people seemed very chill, relaxed and easy going.

I wondered why that is …

Do you suppose it’s because there is less of a chance of getting shot or mugged? Or do you suppose it’s because Canadians don’t fear losing their homes and their life savings if they get sick or injured?

piano music montreal, holiday party ideas, On the return trip we made it a point to visit Old Montreal. Well worth the effort if you’ve never been. It was an easy trip from Malone, NY. Kind of like a trip to Milwaukee for most Chicagoans. Except there was less cheese and more class.

There’s way more to this story of this year’s new Year’s Eve party celebration. So tune in again later to hear more.

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.

Why Pop Music Doesn’t Suck So Bad

I played a pop music gig at a very successful nationwide restaurant chain this last week. It was my first time there. They have music there 7 nights a week. I had resisted taking a gig there. “Why?” you ask? I’ll tell you why. I am so used to being the headliner, if you will, that I wasn’t too keen on taking a gig where I needed to back a female singer. Especially because I know so many of the other piano players who were there and who told me it was a bit of a pressure cooker.

There were set lists and charts and arrangements to follow and I’m more of an improviser. I like interacting with the audience. I don’t like being wall paper per se. I don’t mind being in the background. I prefer comedy and interaction with the audience.

But as things happen, I had the night open and they were in desperate need of a fill in.

So I said “Yes”.

I’m glad I did.

The top manager was completely cool. Very relaxed. So because everything begins at the top, the rest of the managers were chill as well. Not bad for a Saturday before Mother’s Day.

The singer was excellent! Professional and gracious. Very talented and beautiful on the inside and the out. The drummer was a friend of mine who I had not seen in over 15 years. Top flight cat who really takes pop music seriously.

What I mean by that is this: All of pop music tends to be similar. Similar chord changes. Similar melodies. Similar subject matters. You know what I’m talking about. All the same across the board.

The only thing that is different from song to song is the arrangement. My friend Jeff takes those arrangements seriously. He treats them as though they are symphonic scores. He can do that since he has worked with all the top symphonies in the land. He has worked the pit orchestras of the major theater productions here in Chicago. He knows the importance of an arrangement in pop music.

So tune in next time to hear more about this gig that is coming up for me again in the near future. Great restaurant. Great live music entertainment in the great city of Chicago.

Until then … For God’s Sake … Please be nice to somebody, will ya?

More On Chicago Mayoral Election Results 2015

Hi There and Welcome to Another Installment The Piano Bench Blog Cast:
Chicago Mayoral Election Results  

Today’s broadcast comes in the form of some more great piano music and comedy. Our topic? Chicago mayoral election results. I certainly hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed writing and recording.

Chicago politics has no shortage of great comedy material. So tune in regularly.
And be sure to contact me, Dan, for your custom written music and comedy for your client appreciation night, your corporate event or hospital visit.

Listen To This Hilarious New Blogcast w/ Comedy Music

Howdy All!
Welcome to our new Comedy Blogcast! 

This is the first in what may prove to be a very successful series of blogcasts.

Followers of this blog (and there are thousands of you every month right now) have the keen sense of wit and mental faculties to remember this very popular blog from last week.

Only this time I turn on the mics and get a good take; an interview, if you will, of the principle characters from this news style podcast. Thanks to The Onion for such consistent inspiration.

Please let me know how I did. Rate it with the the choices at the bottom here.

Also be sure to contact me to write custom material for your trade show entertainment, for your corporate events and your coming out parties. Our team has been producing shows for a couple of decades now. You should get it on it.

Call Dan 773-527-7417 right now. 


The Power of Live Music Entertainment Will Astound You!

The Power of Live Music Entertainment
will literally astound you!

Edison said …

“If we all did the things we are capable of doing we would literally astound ourselves.”

The power of music is astounding! I get to see it every night I am playing piano music live in a corporate event or at a club date. I can see it whether I am entertaining in a country club or at a fund raiser.

Yes I can play piano and yes I can sing. But the music isn’t mine. It belongs to all of us and my job is to provide the vehicle for you to climb in and take a ride;

A Magic Carpet Ride.

Ride Sally Ride.

Baby You Can Drive My Car.

The tricky part is letting you know you need it before you know you want it.

So I am here to tell you want it. You need it. You crave live music entertainment and you’re going to be talking about what an astounding time you had last night tomorrow morning and for the rest of your life.

You will remember your event for years to come and maybe even beyond. It won’t because of the bean dip. It won’t be that really funny story Uncle Funky tells every party ever year every time you get guys get together.

It’s going to be the live music you shared. It’s going to be the dancing and the singing and the great memories you’ve created together with me behind the piano or with my band.

I’m not making this up. The music is telling you this is true.
You know how I know?
Let me ask you a question:

Do you remember where you were when you got your first kiss?

Of course you do.

Now what was your favorite song from that time period?

See? You knew instantly.

That’s the power of music.

That song (or songs) that was playing on the radio or on the 8 track player in the car you were in at the time, ingrained your emotional happiness. It became the soundtrack to your life.

That’s the power of music.

It transcends everything that was going on at the time. You don’t remember what you ate for breakfast the morning of your first kiss. But you remember the song that was your favorite.

So call me and let’s create some more great memories with live music entertainment.

I am Dan and I am the PianoMan and I would be honored if you would let me create those moments with you and your friends and family that will last a lifetime.

Live Music Entertainment is Astounding!

Call 773-527-7417

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Piano Music Will Raise Funds. Really!

live music entertainment for events piano player for hire

Live Music Creates Astounding Memories!

Springtime in Chicago Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

This is how we do springtime in Chicago.

It’s our special way of celebrating the coming of warm weather.

piano music, live music chicago, springtime entertainment for events,

Is It BBQ Season Yet?!?

It’s how we welcome the robins.

It’s the way we tease the squirrels. 

This is why we make the most of BBQ season. All 4 months of it.

This is why I think it’s time to get a place in Arizona or something.

We just melted all of this year’s snow last week. It was a good season. Not too much snow, but enough to remember we live in a cold weather climate. Not too freezing, but enough for good ice fishing if you like that kind of thing.

It makes it easier to move the pianos when there’s no snow or ice under foot. Hell, today’s spring snow storm may all melt in two days anyway.

But for now we have lovely traveling conditions.

Fantastic jogging paths.

Superior lake front bike paths.

This what awaits our baseball teams when they return from spring training. The Cubs open on a Sunday Night against the Cardinals. The Cards are used to playing in cold weather. They go to the World Series every other year it seems. The only time the Cubs play in cold weather is the first month of the season – not the last.

This spring snowstorm is why we have a 162 game season. This way we can stretch out the season so the warm weather can get here and then leave.

This spring snowstorm is why Wrigley Field’s bleachers won’t be done in time for Opening Day.

So keep the snow boots handy.

Keep the scarves close by.

Your ice scraper isn’t done yet.

. . . and Thank God piano music is here all year long.

Call now to reserve your warm (or cold) weather party 773-527-7417

Warm Weather Means Chicago Dueling Pianos At Navy Pier

Chicago Dueling Pianos at Navy Pier must mean …
The warm weather is here?

It’s the first warm day of spring here in Chicago. I think we may be close to 70º. I took my walk outdoors today instead of on the treadmill like I usually do. I saw the robins out in earnest. The smell of BBQ was prevalent throughout the entire neighborhood. A sure sign that Chicagoans are ready for the warm weather to appear and the snow blowers and salt to disappear.

Dueling pianos, entertainment for events,

Chicago Dueling Pianos Show

We are down at Navy Pier tonight for a dueling pianos show at a corporate event. Entertaining in front of several thousand people. We’ve got the traditional dueling pianos fun; sing along, dance along, laugh along live music entertainment. Yet tonight we have added a new wrinkle. We’ve added a drummer to the festivities.

That’s one of the reasons why Chicago Dueling Pianos are one of the most versatile party ideas. 

We can take your requests so that you get to decide which music you want to hear. But we can add a full band, or just a drummer like we’re doing tonight. We can add a featured vocalist. It just gives the extra added dimension to our regular piano music entertainment for events. chicago dueling pianos 

So after we do load in and sound check, I think I’m going to go for an additional walk down around Navy Pier and enjoy this beautiful weather. You never know how long it is going to last. Because you know what they say, If you don’t like the weather in Chicago, wait 5 minutes. It’ll change.

Call us for your live music entertainment at your next corporate event, charity events or backyard BBQ. We love BBQ! HeckFire … we’ll c’mon by before it hits 80º. We’re not picky. Live music and comedy goes with every kind of weather. So does Chicago Dueling Pianos for that matter … 

What can we say? We’re Chicagoans! Give us a call. 773-527-7414

We can GUARANTEE … You Will Look Good B’cuz We Sound Good!

Alcohol with Your Piano Music Entertainment? Aghast!

Alcohol was invented so the Irish would not rule the world.” – Irish Proverb

When I’m out playing piano music in public, many folks ask me questions that are quite similar. They range in similarities like, “What do you do during the day for work?” and “What does your wife think of what you do for a living?”; things like that. I would love to write an entire blog post about each of those questions.

But in honor of the great St. Patrick’s Day coming up this week, I would like dedicate this holiday blog post to the patron saint of Ireland with a post about alcohol.

Alcohol is the great social lubricant.” – Also Irish Proverb

A couple of questions I get asked all the time would be:

  1. Where are you playing that we can go see you?” I don’t play out in bars all that often. But when I do, I like Dos Equis …. oooppppss Sorry. I do play out public sometimes when the schedule opens up. But for the most part I like to concentrate on company events and corporate gigs. They’re not as easy to perform at as a bar gig. They require a little more finesse and a whole lot more restraint. Certainly neither of my two favorite things to do in the whole world; restraint and finesse that is.I like the raucousness of a bar gig or restaurant. People cutting loose, cracking jokes, laughing at things that are not normally funny in polite company. But isn’t that the point of going out drinking with your friends? No need to be polite.At company events and corporate functions where we are providing live music entertainment, people tend to hold back a bit because they have a level of decorum they need to uphold in the course of daily commerce. No sweat. People want to keep their jobs.

    For when the wine is in, the wit is out.” – Thomas Beacon

    But that brings us to the next question I get a lot:

  2. Do you think that we need to serve alcohol at our event to be able to get people to sing louder?The answer is a resounding, “No!”“How so?” you ask.I answer thusly.Have you ever heard a room full of kids sing loudly?Of course you have.

    Well they can certainly get pretty loud. And I don’t think ALL of them have been drinking. Do you?

    You answered “No. Probably not ALL of them Dan.”

    So I repeat myself. No. You do not need to serve alcohol at your company event to be able to get people to sing along loudly.

    Does it help?

    Hell yeah!

    It also helps if you’ve got the winning lottery ticket in your pocket. But it’s not going to solve all your problems.

    You will need to hire a professional entertainer (like me, for instance) who knows the tried and true formula for a successful evening of piano music entertainment. Someone who knows how to get people interacting knowing that they won’t be embarrassed come Monday morning around the water cooler, or feel like they’re the only on who knows how to have fun after hours. No.

    If you are not going to serve alcohol at your event, then might I make my professional recommendation that before you start your party, make sure the sun has gone down and that you just gave them all raises.

    But No, you do not need alcohol to be served in order to have a good time with live music entertainment for events at your company party.

Thanks for playing along and I’m certainly glad you’ve decided to read this far. Maybe you would indeed like to go a bit further. Give me a call at 1 773 527 7417 to see how affordable live piano music can be at your event.

Happy St Patty’s Day one and all! 

The whole world is about three drinks behind.” – Humphrey Bogart

piano music entertainment and green beer celebrations

Happy St Patty’s Day

You Call It Piano Music Entertainment. Your Soul Calls It Thirst Quencher

You Call It Piano Music Entertainment
Your Soul Calls It Thirst Quencher

It was one of those gigs where I was so happy I took piano lessons as a kid, I had stuck with it as and adult and, most importantly, remained a professional so that I could witness what I am about to tell you.

No one thinks they really need live music. Most importantly the ‘Bean Counters’ who sit around in their office and don’t realize that music truly is the universal language that we all understand.

That’s okay. We all have a job to do.

My job today is to let you know how important
live music and comedy can be for your soul.

It’s like Gatorade after a 60 minute workout. It’s like scratching an itch in a hard to reach place. It’s like a hug and a kiss from a loved one who has returned from a long trip.
Here’s the story …

piano music entertainment

Sing Like No One Can Hear You

This guy was your typical office worker who didn’t have anything else going on his life except to be an office worker. He was kinda grumpy. He had no sense of humor. He had no friends. So he was the guy that made everyone feel a little uncomfortable.

He wore the weird shirt that didn’t appear to coordinate with his tie – or anything else that he wore for that matter. And his hair was always a little bit messy. He didn’t talk much because, well, he liked to be quiet.

Let’s call him ‘Ralph’.

What nobody knew about ‘Ralph’ was he had watched his Mom die of cancer when he was 10 back in 1969. As you can imagine it was horrible.

She was a single Mom. He was an only child. They were not members of a church so there was no support network of any kind. After she died he went to live with an aunt he had never met, in a state he had never been to, with an ‘uncle’ who wasn’t married to his aunt. They had no other kids either. His aunt was nice enough and all. But let’s just say ‘nurturing’ was not a concept she knew much about.

School was also a little rough for Ralph in this small rural town of about 4000 people. They were nice and everything. But having come from a large city school, he felt lost and way behind the other kids.

He wasn’t very coordinated or even remotely interested in sports. He just didn’t get the importance of all that running around and throwing balls and stuff. No one had ever showed him how and he didn’t have any allegiance to one team or another. So, seriously. Like, what’s the point?

The thing about his new school tho, was they had a choir as part of their curriculum. He had no idea how it would change his life.

Choir allowed Ralph to be around other people – especially girls. It allowed him to comfortably shift into his changing voice as puberty set in. It allowed him to express his emotions which ran so deep and so pensive at such a vulnerable and tenuous time of his life.

He stayed with choir all through middle school and high school. He didn’t excel at singing. He was never a featured soloist or anything. He just really enjoyed it for reasons that a growing young man could simply not explain.

But that’s where it ended. College was not in the picture for Ralph. He went to work and learned finance. He was actually pretty good at analysis. He eventually learned accounting with a small local firm that had hired him right out of high school.

In 89 that small local firm was bought out by a much larger one which then grew into a multi-billion dollar corporation through the 90s. He was a good and consistent employee. He was promoted regularly but never to management. He got transferred back to his hometown city in 98 where he just slipped easily into the anonymity of the hustle and bustle. He lives there to this day.

He never married. He never joined a church or a community choir. He doesn’t do much of anything in the way of outside activities. He likes going to the movies. But he feels too shy to search for anything. No one ever gave him permission.

Until one night in February his company event consisted of a large Holiday Party featuring piano music entertainment.

‘Ralph’ was sitting alone, kind of in the background. I don’t think he was eating much off the buffet. I didn’t notice his beverage of choice. But I did notice he was alone.

When I perform I never call anyone out. I never embarrass anyone. What I use is a technique I call “A Saucer of Milk”. It’s like when you want to call a cat over. You don’t yell or command. You just lay out a saucer of milk. If you want what we have to offer, (and your soul knows you do), then you’ll be over in time.

This story is getting a little long. So I am going to finish this tomorrow.

In the meantime, thanks for listening and let me know when you want to have great live music and comedy in the form of piano music entertainment and interactive, sing along fun that brings people together and creates life long memories for everyone in attendance.