Category Archives: Entertainers

PIano Music Maker Satisfies The Masses

As a piano music maker in the piano bars around Chicago  

I get the opportunity to meet and greet some of the finest of citizens.

It is my pleasure to introduce to one such group of fine patrons from the late night gig last week. Just a warning Poison Squirrels, I mean, Boys and Girls, alcohol was involved in this particular encounter.  

This is just one cute little tale I’d love to pull on your coat tails about, Gather ’round kids . . .

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I took a break and walked around the room to talk with people at the club and see what they wanted to hear for the next set.

One highly energetic and slightly giddy trio of young women had a request of sorts.

The first one said, “Let’s find you some good songs to play. Do you play any Shania Twain?”

No. I haven’t played any of her songs in years.”

The next wanted to know, “Do you do any Taylor Swift?”

Do I look like I know any Taylor Swift?”

So the next one says, “How about some N’Sync?”

I said, “I thought you wanted to hear something good.”

piano music, live music, comedy,

To All My Friends

They finally laughed. In fact, it was as if someone flipped a switch because then the first one said, “Well I just thought you could spice things up. What Lionel Richie do you know that will really rock the house?”

I smiled and told them, “Ummmmm … how ’bout none?” They got the joke.

I quickly changed the subject by getting someone to take our picture. I love my job!

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The best part is I get to play to all kinds of people. When folks have an idea about what they think is going to be a good song, I can usually play it. But as a professional, I know which songs are going to work. Stress the word ‘KNOW’. I’ve been doing this awhile now. I’ve got a repertoire that expands decades. Anything you want to hear will fit. However, as a profession piano music maker, I can tell you, without a doubt, that Lionel Richie will never get the room rocking. Sorry my dear.  Thanks for playing along though. We sure appricate the thoughts and condolences.

 

Life As A Cruise Ship Piano Entertainer

The kids on the cruise ship are hilarious. They are very antsy and energetic. Like, constantly. But mostly right after a meal. They can’t understand how grown ups just want sit back and talk and relax after a good bite. Kids got to get up and run around. They got to do things.

This is especially so when the child has been fed a very steady diet of soft serve ice cream. It can’t be beat. They don’t want anything but french fries and ice cream. Who can blame them? If I didn’t have repercussions from eating like that I would do it all the time. It’s hypnotizing to think about. Donuts and ice cream. No veggies. No rice cakes. Just ice cream. Mmmmmmmm … mesmerizing.

I saw one little tyke this AM who didn’t look any older than 2 years old. I don’t even think he had been walking for more than a month or two. He was holding his Mom’s hand as they were walking along the pool deck to go to the buffet.

It was as if he could smell the ice cream 50 meters away because once he realized where they were going, he just looked up at his Mom as if to say, “Can’t you move any faster Lady?” I mean he was pulling on her limb as if he wasn’t going to stand for the delay in the proceedings and if she didn’t get with the program, he was going to have to release of her of her duties so he could get on over to the ice cream! “Let’s get on with it!” 2 years old.

His poor mother knew exactly what was going on and was not going to release him until he got something nutritious in him first. But she looked utterly defeated. She knew she should not have brought this kid with them on this trip. She thought she was going to catch up on her sleep. She thought she was going to relax. But Nooooo. This 2 year old needed ice cream and immediately after he was going to run around. Probably where danger existed in the form of swimming pools and slippery floors.

I can’t say I miss those days. I’m only working on this cruise ship as an entertainer because our kids are grown up and out of high school now. This is my time to sit back and watch all those parents deal with saying no to ice cream.

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.

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?” 

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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!

 

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?

The Best Hits – Bruno Mars Treasure

Bruno Mars Treasure is another great example of how this talented young star is coming up with some of the best new material these days. I try to work on the tunes that every one asks for. Yet when it comes to fielding all the requests, there can be a very short shelf life. So I like it when I get to hear a tune like this one from Bruno Mars that has all the right components for a long alsting hit years after it came out.

His band is actually playing their instruments. They have built on the rots of the greats that came before them. And they acknowledge it. They’re not hiding behind ignorance like some other stars who have recently been sued by family heirs. Listen here:

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.

Dueling Pianos FundRaising Entertainment

We are getting ready to go on at a cancer fundraising event. Great benefit here in the SW Suburbs of Chicago. fundraising entertainment With dueling pianos is a great idea if you’re looking to raise money for your charity.

Charity event entertainment

They have a bunch of great items to give away at he silent auction. Do you see that Blackhawks jersey from Shaw. That’s pretty cool. I would bid on that.

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!

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Live Music Creates Astounding Memories!