Category Archives: event

Chicago: Event Planners Dream Location

Hi All …. Event Planners give Thanks to Tim O’Malley and Concierge Preferred for this excellent video. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Chicago has it all when it comes to destination management … venues, food, entertainment, music, arts, sights to see, things to do and … people to be!

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.

Can You Really Effectively Do Fundraising For Your Church With Just A Piano Player?

It’s always interesting when I get a call to do some fundraising for your church or school from someone who wants me to play piano music at their charity event. But they think the piano can only be relegated to background music.

It’s true we can offer some beautiful ambiance.

But there is so much more to what I bring to the table. What I offer for your fund raiser entertainment is to bring people together. But if I am also going to be the background piano player first, then I need to bring them in differently than if I am your headliner entertainment.

That’s exactly what I was able to do here for this church fund raiser. Check this out …

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Thank YOU!!!

You’re Welcome! 

It’s always a pleasure to help raise funds for churches and schools. I never get tired of it.

We have a wonderful community here in Chicago. A real mixture of people and cultures and needs. St Nicolai has been around for 125 years now. Think about what that means. All the different changes this community has seen over the decades. From working class families to immigrants to 2nd, 3rd and now 4th generations of people living and working ad dying in the City of Chicago.

I’ve been living and working in Chicago as a musician since 1981. I grew up in the suburbs. I came down here to U of I as it was called back then. Now our kids have grown up here and call these neighbors their friends too.

I’ve known Dave Antieau for a long time. He’s been the pastor at St. Nicolai’s for several years now. He started off as one of my piano students back when I was teaching full time.

His wife is a wonderful woman who is just as active in the community as David is. They’ve seen me perform live music at a mutual friend’s wedding. It’s all the same thing for us.

Bring people together with the power of music and
create great memories. Let us do the same for you and your fundraising efforts.

Call now 773-527-7417 

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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.

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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 

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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: 

sheet music, piano music,

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.

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.

You Call it Dueling Piano Music. Your Soul Calls it Stress Relief.

We played a corporate event with our dueling pianos show last week.

We are up in Wisconsin providing entertainment for events like these all the time. While every night is special, I need to tell you about this one.

We were performing to a group of law enforcement folks.

Sheriffs and deputies and their office staff. There were about 130 people in attendance. We took one look at the room, noticed there were mostly men in the house and thought, “Keeping 50% of these guys would be a major success.” Usually in a corporate event keeping 25% is successful. It’s just the way it is.

Let’s face it most folks go to a convention or a conference to meet other people in their industry and to reacquaint with old friends. So live music entertainment is the last thing on their minds.

So we went up there on stage and tried something a little different. We didn’t go up there and do our usual, “Hey! Here we are! We’re going to rock the house!” Instead we just went up there, laid down a saucy groove, played a couple of solos and listened to them get quiet as they began to listen. We introduced each other, waited for the applause and then went into our show.

It was remarkable! We kept over 90% of the people in the room.

We know we’re good at what we do. We know we will get people feeling good and singing along (even if they’re not inclined to sing). We just don’t always know how you’re going to get there. Our methods are to take chaos and organize it somehow. But honestly the audience tells us everything we need to know and we adjus from there.

By the end of the night, we had everyone gathered around the pianos, arm in arm singing at the top of their lungs. An organized chaos if ever there was one.

Handshakes all around and platitudes galore.

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You call it Live Music Entertainment. Your Soul calls it Stress Relief!

One of the quotes from one of the wives said, “You don’t kow how much these guys needed this!” Someone else explained, “These guys are under intense pressure everyday. You gave them some much needed relief.”

I’ve kept thinking about that all week. These folks in law enforcement see the rest of us at our worst. Either as perpetrators when we are guilty or as the victims when we are not. I have no idea how they do it, how they hold empathy and compassion while doing their jobs. In essence, how they maintain their humanity.

Again, it wasn’t us. We were the guys behind the pianos that night and we are good at what we do. But it is the music. It is the power of the music that speaks to all of us – when we bother to listen, it is the music that heals and nurtures and pulls us all together in the face of our day to day trials.

So let us help you. Let us come to your next event and take your guests and friends and family to a relaxing, soothing place. Let us do our jobs so you can do yours. Thanks.

You call it Dueling Piano Music. Your soul calls it Stress Relief.